NewerTech Voyager Q Hard Drive Dock
Company: Newer Technology
The ever falling price of hard drive storage means that we can now own and manage terabytes and terabytes of space if we wish. But the ongoing increase of capacity and fall in price leads to a new problem – if you are anything like me, you will have a shelf littered with external drives, surrounded by a detritus of data cables and multiple “wall wart” power supplies. Mine act like a series of time capsules – the further back in time you go (based on when I bought each one), the smaller they become and the more disparate the type of data we retain.
Of course, the downside with this approach is that each time you buy one of these devices, you are paying again and again for the overhead cost of the USB or Firewire interface, the cable and the external power supply (needless to say, every drive uses a slightly different output voltage on the power supply, so they are all incompatible) – and a quick scan of any online electronics store reveals that external enclosure drives are substantially more expensive than bare drives themselves. Bare drives do not need to be the exclusive domain of the Mac Pro and its easy access drive bays, however – and I am not proposing to crack open an iMac and change the drive in there either. But use a NewerTech Voyager Q device and you can swap in and out SATA drives to any Mac to your heart’s content without the need for a screwdriver.
Looking like a small digital toaster, the Voyager Q sits on your desk, with 3.5″ and 2.5″ sized dust flap protected slots in the top, and an ejection handle and status LED on the front. Around the back of the device are a full complement of ports – Firewire 400 and 800 ports, USB 2.0 and eSATA. In a refreshing fashion, you will find a matching set of connector cables for all of these ports in the box. You just insert the SATA drive vertically, data port down, into the Voyager Q, and once it is snugly connected it will appear on you Mac’s desktop like any other drive.
These devices will recognize SATA I and II devices up to 2 terabytes in size, and certainly coped with the five or six drives that I used with no problem. Performance was as you would expect from a SATA drive in an enclosure – I wasn’t able to try it on eSATA, but Firewire 800 was very close to the speed of my iMac’s internal drive. I was able to use it for specific tasks – formatting old 3.5″ drives upgraded from a Drobo prior to selling on eBay, migrating data over from an upgraded laptop drive etc. But where it really comes into its own is if you have a stack of SATA drives lying around. With these, you can use them like large capacity ZIP disks of old – swapping them in and out at will, and accessing the data on them at high speed. It’s a beautiful system, and for me works so much better than external housings – and it saves you money, as going for larger capacities will cost much less for bare drives then branded external devices. You can also retain and use your older drivers for longer. OWC can even supply rubber sleeves for the SATA drives for protecting them while they are stored away. If you don’t need the Firewire support, you can get a USB2/eSATA version for a fair bit less, though naturally you are trading some performance with that unit – USB relies on the CPU managing data transfer, so causes slow down when the machine is busy.
You will pay close to the price of a Voyager Q for a bare drive enclosure with four interfaces on it, and obviously an enclosure is much less flexible. This makes the device great value for money, and it is highly functional and well designed. I can’t fault the Voyager Q at all, and I highly recommend it.