By August 24, 2011

ineo I-NA317U-Plus 3.5″ and 2.5″ SATA Hard Drive USB 3.0 Docking Station Review

Every once in awhile I need to transfer a lot of data back and forth. This usually happens when I build a new computer and need to back up a bunch of local files, or if an existing machine’s hard drive has an operating system failure. The latter strands my local data on the hard disk, and I have to mount the disk onto a working computer in order to rescue my bits and bytes. On rare occasions I transport a lot of video back and forth, and I need to use a drive with larger capacity than a typical USB “thumb” drive.

I have a network file server, but even with a gigabit Ethernet connection it can take awhile to move a large amount of data. I also dislike “messing” with the file server, so shutting it off to put in a corrupted hard drive is not on my list of top things to do.

I used to move hard drives around inside of a USB enclosure. This was a pain — open the enclosure, unscrew the old hard drive, screw in the new hard drive, close the enclosure, drag up the power supply and the enclosure to a machine, copy copy copy. Plus back then all I had was USB 2.0, and file transfers could take awhile.

I wanted a hard drive dock instead of an enclosure. A dock does not fully cover the hard drive, you just insert the drive and hit the power button. This would make it easier for me to manage multiple bare drives and would also take up less space around my main workstation. I also wanted a faster USB 3.0 interface … and as usual I didn’t want to spend a lot of money.

The I-NA317U-Plus by ineo seemed to do the trick, and it was delivered in two days via Amazon Prime.

Construction and Installation

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The ineo I-NA317U is really simple to setup and use. You don’t need to install any drivers, and you don’t have to open your computer or the dock. The ineo has three parts: the white plastic dock, the black power cable, and a blue USB 3.0 cord. That’s it. Installation is easy; you can plug the dock into any available USB port regardless of speed (1.1, 2.0, or 3.0).

The I-NA317U accepts either 3.5″ hard drives commonly found in desktop computer or larger external storage enclosures, or the 2.5″ hard drives typically found in laptops or smaller external drives. This gives you a lot of flexibility that a typical external drive may not. The dock would have come in handy when I was doing some of my SSD vs HD testing on my laptop.

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There’s a power button on the back of the unit. All cables are managed through the back, which helps give the I-NA317U a clean look.

One this I really dislike about the dock is the bundled USB 3.0 cable. It is very very short — only three feet long. If you intend to buy a replacement cord, make sure you get one with a “B” socket on the other end. I linked one up down below so you can see what I’m talking about.

If you don’t have a computer with USB 3.0 ports, you can buy a card that fits inside of your computer. They are only 2- and 4-port cards, but it’ll get you started at the expense of another $25 – $35.

Performance

This was actually more difficult to test than I expected. For some reason my 3dMark test suite no longer works after patching to the latest version. I used Nodesoft’s Disk Bench to chart the transfer speed of a raw video file I shot for my Krups GVX-1 burr grinder.

The file was about 2.3GB and took 43 seconds to copy from my internal SATA-II hard drive to the SATA-II hard drive in the I-NA317U. In contrast, copying the same file to my file server over the network took 214 seconds.

Conclusion

At about $30, the ineo dock is a good value and did exactly what I wanted it to do. External enclosures can be purchased for that price, but the dock allows me to switch between disks very easily. Aside from the short USB 3.0 cord I am pleased with the ineo I-NA317U docking station.

Strongly recommended

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1 Comment on "ineo I-NA317U-Plus 3.5″ and 2.5″ SATA Hard Drive USB 3.0 Docking Station Review"

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  1. Hank says:

    I just purchased this fine product, based on this review.