I’ve looked at many hard drive docks in my time, and most are pretty much the same, just a place to stick your hard drive to transfer files back and forth. Cirago has sent me over their new HDD dock that adds a bit more features to the regular plain dock, theirs has a built-in card reader and two additional USB ports as well. The additional features do make the dock more useful than the plain HDD docks that we’re accustomed to, with this dock you won’t need a card reader and USB hub because it’s all right there for you. Not a bad idea overall, but let’s see how it performs when I compare it to my Thermaltake BlacX Duet HDD dock. Read on…
Tech Specs,Features or the Basic Info:
* High Speed USB 2.0 Backwards compatible with 1.1
* Higher Performance Transfers up 480 Mbps
* Plug and Play
* USB hub function with 2 USB 2.0 ports
* Supports 2.5” and 3.5” SATA I/II hard drives
* Supports PC (Windows 98SE/ME/2000/XP/Vista/7), MAC (MAC OS 10.4.8 or above) and Linux
* Active LED Power Indicator
* One-touch backup button activates included PCClone EX Lite back-up software
Interface 1x USB 2.0 (device)
2x USB 2.0 (hub)
1x SATA I/II 2.5” or 3.5”
Memory Card Support: SD/MMC, MemoryStick/MemoryStick Pro,CompactFlash, XD
Power: 5V, AC/DC adapter included
Warranty: 1 year
Dimension: 6.5 x 4.5 x 4’’
A Better Look at Things:
The Cirago USB JHDD Dock comes in a box as one might expect, on that box you’ll find pictures and information.
Unpacking everything you’ll find the dock, USB cable, software disc, user manual and power supply.
The dock itself is red and black plastic with a support on the back end for your hard drive, I like the idea of the support to help hold the drive up.
On the top you’ll find a spring door that is access to the SATA connection and a red button for backups.
On the front you’ll see the card reader and two USB ports.
On the back is where you’ll find the USB and power connections along with the main power switch. The bottom of the dock does have four rubber feet as well.
Installation, Testing and Comparison:
There’s not much to the actual hardware installation process, just plug it into your USB port and power outlet and you’re ready to go. Windows installs the drivers automatically for you, no issues there.
I use the Thermaltake BlacX Duet hard rive dock all of the time, so that’s what I’m comparing it to in this review.
Here’s both docks with a Western Digital Caviar Black 750GB Hard Drive in them:
If you want to use the backup feature though you’ll need to install the software on the disc.
The backup software is PCClone EX Lite, it’s something that I’ve seen before on many backups units, apparently it’s a popular program. It’s configurable, and it’s fairly easy to use.
The idea of using this for backups I guess works, but it’s not something that I would use really. A dock to me is so I can quickly and easily, without the hassles or enclosures, to transfer data to and from hard drives I’ve got floating around. To use the backup feature essentially you need to leave the hard drive in the dock, that doesn’t make much sense to me, at least in how I would and do use a dock.
I used ATTO Disk benchmark for the testing, and I ran into an issue with the Cirago HDD dock with the transfer speeds. I thought maybe it was a bad hard drive, but I’ve got a few WD Caviar Black drive and grabbed another one to test again and I got the same results. The transfer rates were just all over the place with the Cirago Dock. Using the Thermaltake dock I had no such issues though. Here’s the results done two times on each dock with two different WD Caviar Black drives:
As you can see the transfer rates on the Cirago HDD dock were just all over the place, not sure what’s going on there as I used the same USB port and drives with the Thermaltake dock and got the expected rates of transfer.
Still thought, it works, but just not as fast as the Thermaltake dock obviously.
I guess it’s a trade off, to get the other features like USB hub and card reader you’ve got to sacrifice something right? Oh well..
The price, well for $35.99 it’s not bad I guess. The Thermaltake BlacX Duet is $44.99 on Amazon and while it does have the ability to use two hard drive, it does not have a USB hub or card reader. The regular single bay BlacX costs $33.99 at Amazon, and with that you get only one spec for a hard drive and that’s it, so I guess the Cirago HDD Dock is a pretty decent deal then…
Summary and Comments:
The inclusion of the card reader and the two USB ports in this dock is a great feature really, it allows you to get rid of a couple other things that you might have lying around. With the Cirago HDD dock you’ve essentially got everything in one place right there for you, which is something that I think most people will appreciate.
I’m not sure what was going on with the transfer rates, they were all over the place as you saw. The speeds weren’t bad, but the Cirago HDD Dock wasn’t as fast as the Thermaltake BlacX Duet, still they weren’t bad overall for transferring stuff back and forth.
We give the Cirago USB Hard Drive Dock with Card Reader a 4 out of 5 score.
+Easy to use
+Card reader and USB hub built-in
+Better than a standard HDD dock in terms of features
+Push button backup