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Nov 13, 2005 by Mike Chin
Growth in the digital storage markets has been explosive in recent years. So much so that both flash memory makers and hard drive makers are happy. BusinessWeek Online reported recently (29 Sept 2005):
"Chang Gyu Hwang is chief executive of the world's largest supplier of flash memory chips, South Korea's Samsung. Over the last few weeks, he has been quoted as hailing the start of the 'Flash Rush Era.' Flash memory chips -- specifically, a type of flash known as NAND, which is used to store data in devices such as music players and digital cameras -- will in time challenge and may even replace small hard drives."
"To Bill Watkins, chief executive of Seagate Technology (NYSE:STX - News), the world's largest manufacturer of hard drives, that sounds like a challenge. Samsung also manufactures hard disk drives, but in much smaller quantities. 'It's kind of funny,'says Watkins. 'I see so much opportunity that I would be more than willing to take his hard drive unit [division] off his hands.'"
Much of the demand for digital storage, whether in the form of flash memory or hard drives, is being driven by "personal storage". Micro-size storage devices are used in digital cameras, USB drives, MP3 players, mobile phones, etc. Among hard drives, it's demand for storing music, images and movies in digital format that's driving growth. Half-terabyte 3.5" drives were recently released by Seagate, Hitachi and Maxtor. Demand for high capacity drives is said to be the fastest growing sector of the market.
Among external storage devices, there is the now ubiquitous USB flash memory drive, which started at just 16 MB a couple years ago but have increased dramatically in capacity. A search on SPCR's Shopping Engine showed 2 GB models starting as low as US$100. There's talk of >10GB USB flash drives in the near future, but at least initially, the price will be pretty high. Only slightly larger devices that use Hitachi, Seagate or Toshiba micro hard drives with discs of <1" diameter offer higher capacity. Seagate's 5GB Pocket Drive can be had for ~$80 and a new Iomega 8GB model has a MRSP of $170.
Moving a big step in size are external hard drive storage devices that use 2.5" and 3.5" hard drives. In general, this is a metal or plastic box not much larger than the hard drive it encloses, with a USB 2.0 or Firewire interface to the computer. Their larger size puts them in a somewhat different category than the teeny-tiny USB flash and micro drive devices, but a further distinction needs to be made between the 2.5" external drive and the 3.5" external drive. The latter requires external power, usually in the form of a wall-wart; the former does not.
From left: USB flash drive, 2.5" external drive enclosure, 3.5" external drive enclosure.
This freedom from additional external power is made possible by the 2.5" drive's very low power consumption, typically under 3W during seek or write, and just a single watt in idle. It is powered by the PC via the USB 2.0 interface. As a result, 2.5" external drives...
- fall into the category of storage devices that are self-powered (or at least don't need a dedicated AC or DC external power source)
- are generally very portable, being little bigger or heavier than the typical notebook drive (4" x 2.75" x 0.375", 3.5oz / 100g )
- are the biggest of the self-powered portable storage devices.
- have the biggest capacity by far, currently up to ~120 GB, and
- the lowest cost per storage unit of any self-powered portable storage device.
Any road warrior will confirm that these are compelling features. The 2.5" external drive enclosures are not new; they've been around for a few years. There are two basic varieties: The ones that come supplied with a drive (and often some backup-type software) and the ones that don't.
LAUREATE EB205U 2.5" HDD ENCLOSURE
The product under review is an enclosure (without a hard drive) from Enermax, a brand long associated with power supplies. Like so many component brands, Enermax has expanded into other product categories, including cases, accessories and external storage enclosures. The EB205U is one of several offered by Enermax, including some 3.5" drive enclosures like the one shown above. The unit comes in a nice little box that holds only three parts, as shown below:
The unit comes in a nice little box...
...that holds only three parts: Pouch, enclosure and short USB2.0 cable.
LAUREATE EB205U FEATURES & SPECS (from the Enermax product page)
| External 2.5 HDD box with USB 2.0 for easy plug & play between laptop and desktop
| Slim size with excellent portability
|Quality aluminum for the strong structure and best heat dissipation
|Classic distinction with the stylish cover and blue LED indicator
|Water-resistance & shock-proof travel bag to protect HDD
|Low power consumption requiring power source from one single USB port
|| 2.5 IDE HDD
| Data Transfer Rate
| Case Material
| Power Source
||One USB Bus Power +5V
| Support HDD
| Power & Access indicator
|| Blue LED
| Support OS
||Windows 98SE/ME /2000 /XP
Mac OS 8.6 or higher
| Dimension ( D * W * H )
|| 125mm * 74mm * 12mm (~40 g weight)
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