It's often possible to take advantage of a really good price on a hard drive or SSD intended for internal installation, and put it into an external enclosure for portable use. Once, installing drives in external enclosures required tools, patience and the ability to squish a connecting cable into a very small space. Nowadays, though, manufacturers are making the process as painless as possible. And the enclosures can be very nice to look at, as well. The Inateck Tool Free USB 3.0 HDD Enclosure with UASP is an attractive, lightweight enclosure that promises simple installation and high speed access. Does it live up to its promises? To find out, read this review:
What Is UASP?
UASP stands for USB Attached SCSI Protocol. It's a computer protocol used to move data to and from USB storage devices, that promises higher transfer speeds than the standard USB protocol. It was introduced with USB 3.0, but if the hardware allows it, can be backwards compatible with USB 2.0 as well. It is supposed to be noticeably faster than the standard USB protocol, especially when used with solid state drives. Microsoft made it available starting with Windows 8, and Apple made it available starting with OS X Mountain Lion.
NOTE: The drive will still work fine with previous versions of Windows and OS X, but not at UASP speeds. You can read a somewhat technical Wikipedia article that goes into more detail about the protocol.
Unboxing The Inateck Tool Free USB 3.0 HDD Enclosure With UASP
The Inateck Tool Free USB 3.0 Enclosure with UASP arrives in a glossy black cardboard box, with an illustration of the enclosure on the front.
The back of the box has a list of features and specifications. It's designed for use with 7 mm/9.5 mm SATA HDDs and SSDs.
Inside the box, you'll find the enclosure, a brief instruction manual, a USB cable, and a small foam sticker that is used to help 7 mm drives fit snugly in the internal space.
The enclosure has a matte black finish and softly rounded corners, giving it an attractive appearance. It also has a blue LED power light, one USB port, and an on/off switch. The on/off switch is an especially welcome addition.
Inateck is a German company that offers a wide range of well designed peripherals, available in the USA and in Europe. The drive size is 136 x 84 x 11 mm, or 5.35 x 3.31 x 4.17 inches. You can see the official page for this enclosure here.
It shows several photos of the enclosure, lists the technical specifications, and allows you to choose the national version of Amazon you wish to order it from.
Is It Really Tool Free?
The short answer: Yes. :) Opening the enclosure is a simple matter of pressing down on the top of it and sliding it toward the Inateck trademark. The lid will slide back a little and you can then lift it up.
Inside, it's quite clear where the drive should go.
For the purposes of this review, we used a 7mm Corsair Force LS SATA3 60gb SSD.
Installing HDDs and SSDs Inside The Inateck Tool Free USB 3.0 HDD Enclosure
We opened the enclosure and installed the extra foam sticker on top of the one that was already in the lid, according to the instructions for a 7mm drive.
It was then a simple matter to press the drive into the enclosure,
Slide it firmly onto its connector.
Then, replace the lid. It doesn't get much easier than that.
We booted a Lenovo B590 laptop running Windows 8.1, attached the USB cord to the drive and to the computer, and… Nothing. Say what???
Now Comes The Fun Part
OK, so it wasn't exactly nothing. Windows 8.1 gave a little chirp of recognition, but didn't actually recognize the drive. Because, of course, it had not yet been formatted. How do you format a drive that the computer can't see? Even the Disk Management snap-in was no help. A quick trip through search-engine land disclosed that Windows often has problems with newly installed SSDs. No one really explained why to our satisfaction, though. So, being the intrepid hardware hackers that we are, we connected the drive to a 2011 MacBook Air running OS X Mavericks, which promptly recognized the new hardware. It was then a simple matter to use OS X's Disk Utility to format the drive as one partition, FAT, eject the newly formatted drive, and reattach it to the Lenovo. Presto! We gave Microsoft a Bronx cheer and ourselves a round of applause and carried on.
Where To Buy
The Inateck Tool Free USB 3.0 HDD Enclosure with UASP is exactly what it says it is: tool free. You need nothing more than your own hands to install an HDD or SDD in it and connect it to your computer. It is well made, lightweight, attractive to look at and sturdy. It comes with everything you need to fit popular HDDs and SSDs, along with a nice thick USB3 cable and clearly written instructions. Putting the drive in it was straightforward and simple. Definitely a winner.