ULTRA Stackables Review

Admin - 2007-11-07 07:12:56 in Mobile, Digital Photography/Video, Storage / Hard Drives
Category: Mobile, Digital Photography/Video, Storage / Hard Drives
Reviewed by: Admin   
Reviewed on: December 20, 2007
Price: $200.00

Introduction:

There are many things in life that you think you don’t need, until you get the chance to actually use them. Remote car starters are one of those you truly appreciate when it's -10° F outside and you can get your car nice and toasty with a push of a button instead of having to endure the weather. Ultra Stackables are looking to be such an item with their Card reader/USB hub, USB 2.0/FireWire external IDE HDD and E-SATA/USB 2.0 external SATA HDD. Are these components not needed until the convenience of having them on your desktop opens your eyes?

The Ultra Stackables includes, in this review, the Stackable 180-watt multi-outlet DC 12V power center, Stackable USB 2.0/FireWire 3.5-inch IDE External Hard Drive Enclosure, Stackable USB 2.0/E-SATA 3.5-inch SATA External Hard Drive Enclosure, and Stackable All-In-1 Card Reader & USB 2.0 Hub (there is also a Stackable 7-Port USB 2.0 Hub available if you need additional USB 2.0 ports) are one of many desktop devices looking for a home on your desk. Ultra uses a sleek flat black finish on the components with the requisite blue LEDs that are aesthetically pleasing and look at home on most desktops.

Closer Look:

The Stackables come packaged separately in similar boxes that are very informative with the connection info and full specifications listed on each box. The packaging shows the Stackables in the various mounting positions available as well as the stacked configuration.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Closer Look:

First up is the Stackable USB 2.0/FireWire 3.5-inch IDE External Hard Drive Enclosure. Opening up the box, you are greeted with the install disc for Windows 98 SE. Getting down to the packing shows the contents packed securely in egg crate with the power supply off to the side. The accessories include a 3’ FireWire and 3’ USB 2.0 cable, along with the aluminum feet to mount the drive upright and the rubber feet to stack the drives.

 

 

  

 

 

 

Here the drive is shown with the aluminum feet attached to mount upright. The front of the drive has the Red HDD activity LED and Blue power LED. Swinging around to the back shows the exhaust for the 30mm fan, On/Off switch, two FireWire ports (you can daisy chain up to three devices), USB 2.0 port and the DC Power outlet. Getting to the inside shows where the drive mounts, the ATA 133 and internal power connection, and the instructions to make sure the jumper on the HDD is set correctly.

 

 

 

Next up is the Stackable USB 2.0/E-SATA 3.5-inch SATA External Hard Drive Enclosure. Packaging follows suit as the previous drive. When the box is opened, you are greeted with the install disc for Windows 98 SE and manual. Getting down to the packing shows the contents packed securely in egg crate, with the power supply off to the side. The accessories include a 6’ E-SATA and 3’ USB 2.0 cable, the E-SATA backplane, along with the aluminum feet to mount the drive upright and the rubber feet to stack the drives.

 

 

 

Again, the drive is shown with the aluminum feet attached to mount upright. Same as the IDE enclosure, the front of the drive has the Red HDD activity LED and Blue power LED. Swinging around back shows the exhaust for the 30mm fan, On/Off switch, E-SATA port, USB 2.0 port and the DC Power outlet. Getting to the inside shows where the drive mounts, the SATA and internal power connection.

 

 

Closer Look:

Next up is the Stackable All-In-1 Card Reader & USB 2.0 Hub. Packaging follows suit as the previous drives. When the box is opened, you are greeted with the install disc for Windows 98 SE and the manual. Getting down to the packing shows the contents packed securely in egg crate, with the power supply off to the side. The accessories include a 3’ USB 2.0 cable, and the aluminum feet to mount the drive upright and the rubber feet to stack the drives.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One more time, the drive is shown with the aluminum feet attached to mount upright. The front of the All-in-One Card Reader has the four ports for the various supported cards (CF/MD/SD/MMC/MS/SM) along with four blue LEDs for activity. Swinging around back shows the six USB 2.0 ports, the main USB 2.0 Port, and the DC power outlet.

 

 

Last up is the Stackable 180-watt multi-outlet DC 12V power center. Packaging breaks away since the power supply is a little more stout. Opening the box reveals a quick connection guide and the power supply encased in closed cell foam. Getting it out shows the protection provided by the foam. Included with the power supply are the plastic feet to raise the power supply for better airflow, power cable for the wall, and six DC power cables (two 3”, two 6”, two 9”) to connect to the stackables.

 

 

 

The power supply is the base to the Stackables that the rest of the components sit on top of. The front of the unit has six blue LEDs that are very bright to show how many components are connected at any given time. The rear simply has the six DC power inputs, 115V/225V voltage selector switch, power switch and power cable port.

 

Installation:

Installing the hard drive into the drive enclosures involves sliding the cover off, dropping the drive in, making the connections and securing the drive with screws. Replace the cover and secure with provided screws and the installation is complete.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Since the Stackables are external devices, installing them is a breeze. If the units are to be used separately, just attach the data cable from the enclosure to your system (USB 2.0, FireWire, E-SATA), and use the supplied power brick for power.

 

 

When stacking the enclosures, first start by attaching the "feet" to the bottom of the enclosures to assist in keeping the stackables in place. Once the feet are attached, the units are ready to be stacked.

 

 

 

Making connections using the Ultra Stackable Power Supply simplifies wiring. The enclosures are supplied power and the connections are all located in one area. Depending on which Stackables are used, connect the data cables to each enclosure and then to your system.

 

 

 

 

Installation is now complete and unless you are running Windows 98, there are no drivers to load. Just find a comfortable position for the Stackables to be placed, and they are ready to use.

Specifications:


Stackable 180-Watt Multi-Outlet Power Center

 

Output

12V +/- 5%

Min

1A

Max

15A

Max Power Supplied

180W

Input

AC 115/230 V

Frequency

50/60hz

Dimensions

187 x 120 x 50 mm

Weight

900g

 

Features:

 

 

Specifications:

 

Ultra 3.5-inch USB 2.0 & E-SATA External Hard Drive Enclosure

 

 

Interface

Plug and Play USB 2.0 and E-SATA

Support

3.5" SATA Hard Drives

Maximum Capacity Supported

750GB

USB 2.0 Transfer Rate

480Mbps

E-SATA Transfer Rate

2400Mbps

DC Power

12V

 

Features:

 

 

Specifications:

 

Ultra 3.5-inch USB 2.0 & FireWire External Hard Drive Enclosure

 

 

Interface

Plug and Play USB 2.0 and FireWire

Support

3.5" ATA 133/100/66 Hard Drives

Maximum Capacity Supported

750GB

USB 2.0 Transfer Rate

480Mbps

FireWire Transfer Rate

400Mbps

DC Power

12V

 

Features:

 

 

Specifications:

 

Ultra Stackable All-In-1 Card Reader & USB 2.0 Hub

 

 

Interface

Plug and Play USB 2.0 Wire

Front

All-In-1 Media Card Reader

Rear

6 Port USB 2.0 Hub

USB 2.0 Transfer Rate

480Mbps

DC Power

12V

 

Features:

 

 

Testing:

HD Tune 2.53 will be used to measure transfer rates across the Ultra connections available (USB 2.0/E-SATA/FireWire) where applicable. Baseline results will be acquired with the hardware installed in the system below.


Testing Setup:

 

Hardware used in Stackables:

 

Stackable 3.5" Hard Drive Enclosure - USB 2.0 & E-SATA

 

E-SATA is the way to go if you are planning on using external storage. Benchmarks are as if it is an internal drive with the benefits of hot-swap ability. USB2.0 transfer rates are on par with what they should be.

 

Stackable 3.5" Hard Drive Enclosure - USB 2.0 & Firewire

 

USB 2.0 takes a small lead over FireWire. If you have the need for an IDE external drive, look for USB 2.0 connectivity. CPU usage is high as well with the data having to travel over the USB bus.

 

Stackable All-In-1 Card Reader & USB 2.0 Hub

 

The All-In-One Card Reader & USB 2.0 Hub is personally the most used of all the Stackables in my setup. The sheer number of digital photos I am working with on a daily basis, with reviews as well as four kids, two dogs, and three cats, this has been a time saver, and I do not know why I hadn't grabbed one before. The access time is high on the xD card since USB card readers do not provide direct access to the flash memory on xD memory cards.

Conclusion:

 

The Ultra Stackables would be of great use with laptops where internal capacity is somewhat limited, and using external peripherals would be cost effective. On the desktop side of things, the Stackables are nice to have for portability of data, and if you go the E-SATA route, it's comparable to an internal drive's speeds. My favorite peripheral is the All-In-One Card Reader & USB 2.0 Hub. I use the card reader and USB hub almost daily, transferring digital photos and swapping USB devices without having to reach under my desk to do it.

The power supply runs extremely quiet, as does the whole setup. The blue LEDs are a bit on the bright side, and frosting the clear plastic lens would diffuse some of the intensity of the LEDs. I will probably end up just sanding them to take the "edge" off. There was an issue with the first power supply that was recieved where the data connections, primarily the USB, were leaking current. Ultra assured me that this was not normal and a sealed replacement unit was sent and tested out positive.

 

Pros: 

 

Cons: