Sharkoon have introduced an interesting product for PC enthusiasts that allows you to plug SATA hard drives into an external enclosure – without the need to screw into a drive bay. It looks just like a HDD docking station, you can plug/remove drives at any time and access the data on your PC via USB cable.
As computers are upgraded it is inevitable that spare SATA drives will start to mount up, and yet there isn’t enough space to attach them to most motherboards. This solution lets you quickly access drives when required, saving the hassle of swapping drives inside your PC with the power off. You can use 3.5” or 2.5” drives without the need for any screwdriver or tools.
The contents of the box include the QuickPort bay, Power Adapter, USB Cable and a small quick start guide:
It is immediately noticeable that the drive bay is constructed to a high standard, a compliment which cannot be given to all drive enclosures. The SATA QuickPort is constructed from a matte finish plastic, however it feels extremely solid and sturdy. Of course this does not affect the overall performance of the unit, but it contributes somewhat to a quality product.
The rear of the unit features an on/off switch, a power socket and a USB connection:
The front top of the unit includes a quick release button (to remove the hard drive from the dock) and an oval HDD status indicator:
The procedure for mounting a drive is to ensure the power and USB cables are connected correctly, slide the SATA drive into the bay, and then finally power on the unit by pressing the switch on the rear. Every SATA hard drive should have the data and power connectors in the same location, meaning that when you dock the drive it should click into place with ease. This standardisation applies to both 3.5” and 2.5” drives, unlike IDE HDD’s that could mount connectors in many configurations. The smaller 2.5” drive can be inserted via the opening in the flap (as seen on the images above), whereas the larger 3.5” drive must be pushed past the flap to fit.
When you have the drive mounted and turned on, Windows should automatically detect the new mass storage device without the need for drivers. Within a few seconds, a new drive letter will appear and you can access your drive. When the HDD and Quickport are powered the blue status LED will light, when drive activity occurs a red LED will flash accordingly.
The drive works exactly as any other hard drive once connected to your PC, and is ideal for creating periodic backups that are too big for DVD/CD. Now that hard drive prices are exceptionally low it may be cheaper to back up to a large SATA drive.
Access speeds on the drive seem comparable with other USB 2.0 drive enclosures, and quite adequate for general storage/backup requirements. However these transfer times could be greatly improved by adding an eSATA connection to the QuickPort (alongside the USB 2.0 ports). It does appear that Sharkoon have introduced a Pro version of the SATA QuickPort which includes this useful feature. It would be recommended to take a look at this improved version if you require faster drive access (which would be useful if you run applications or edit video files directly from the drive).
Overall this is a high quality and useful PC accessory, which system builders and frequent upgraders will find invaluable. However, I would suggest going for the potentially improved transfer speeds of the “PRO” version of this unit.