When Brando sent me the USB 2.0 to IDE Cable a year ago, I didn’t think I’d ever have the opportunity to actually put it to use. However, I was wrong and was able to eventually put it through its paces for a review. But after that one use and review, this cable has stayed at the bottom of a drawer in my basement computer lair. That’s why a month or so ago, USBGeek.com asked if I would review version 2 of this same product, I was somewhat reluctant. But, being the push over that I am, I said ok. Joe sent the cable and it has sat on my desk until about a week ago when as luck (or non-luck depending on who you ask) would have it, I had the opportunity to give it a try.
For those of you that might recall the first review, this is a cable that allows you to connect an IDE device to your computer via a USB port. Version 2 has the same features as the original version, but adds one important feature to the mix. The first version only allowed for connections to devices using a full-sized IDE connector. This new version has a double sided connector. One side is for 3.5 inch drives and the other is for 2.5 inch (notebook) drives. That’s really the only difference with this newer version and the older version.
Fully supports USB 2.0
480Mbps high speed data transfer rate
Supports 3.5, 2.5 Hard Disks, CD-ROM(max. 52x), CD-RW, DVD-ROM, DVD-RW, Combo device
AC Power Adapter input : 100 ~ 240V, 50/60HZ, 0.5A
AC Power Adapter output : 12V/2A, 5V/2A
My first test of this product, was to I pull the drive cage out of an old 800MHz Athlon desktop that I had laying around. I hadn’t booted up the computer in ages and didn’t even recall if I had copied all the files off the two 3.5 inch drives before retiring the computer.
If you look closely at the picture above, you can see that the IDE connectors on the drives are keyed. There is a notch in the middle of plastic surrounding the pins. This notch is supposed to keep you from plugging in the IDE cable incorrectly, as the connector has a matching ‘key’ to the notch. Unfortunately, even with the ‘key’, you can still plug the connector in upside down. At least this was something that I was able to do with the 2 drives I tested it with. So, just make sure you pay attention to what you’re doing. You’ll also notice that there are little plastic jumpers to the right side of the IDE connector, and then to the right of the jumpers there is the power connector.
According to the very terse one page user manual (sheet) included with this cable, you are supposed to make sure the drive is in Master mode. That’s what the jumpers are for. The drive on the bottom in the picture above has a sticker that shows how to arrange the jumpers for Master or Slave mode. The drive on top doesn’t have any information for setting the jumpers. Was this a problem? Nope. I don’t think it really matters if the drive is set to Master or Slave, it worked fine for me either way.
Here you see the connector plugged into one of the drives, and the included power adapter plugged into the power port on the same drive. The correct way to connect the drive to your computer is to plug in the IDE cable to the drive, plug in the power to the drive and then plug the USB connector into the computer. This product is compatible with PCs and Macs. Another area where the user manual is wrong is where it tells you to install a driver if you want to use this product with a Mac. I tried it with my G5 iMac without installing this driver and it worked just fine.
After you plug the USB connector into your computer, the drive should show up automatically either under My Computer on your PC, or as a newly mounted drive on your Mac desktop. From there you can treat it like any other drive by dragging and dropping files.
I haven’t included any file transfer speed info in this review, because the results of such tests are dependent on the speed of the drive, speed of your computer, etc. I tried transferring several large files back and forth from drive to computer and visa versa, I had no real issues with speed.
After testing the 3.5 inch side of the cable, I didn’t think I’d have the opportunity to test the 2.5 inch connector on this product, but one Saturday afternoon I received a frantic phone call from my friend Bill of iPhotoSports.com. The conversation went something like this:
Bill: My Sony card reader died while I was shooting a baseball game today!
Bill: I need to get the pictures off so I can post them on my site [sniff].
Julie: And this effects me how?
Bill: I was hoping that you had a way to copy the files off [whimper].
Julie: Do I look like a CompUSA?
Bill: But you’re The Gadgeteer! You can do anything!
Julie: This is true…
Bill: Well??? [whine]
Julie: Well what?
Bill: Do you have SOMETHING to copy the files from this 2.5 inch drive?!
Julie: Maybe I do gah!
Bill: Can I come over? Puhleeeeese?
Julie: I’m busy.
Bill: What are you doing?
Julie: I’m watching reruns of Xena Warrior Princess.
Bill: I hate you.
Julie: Ok, bye. [click]
Actually only the first 2 sentences of that conversation really happened. Bill does have a tendency to whine though… Anyway, he did bring over the defective Sony HDPS-M1, which we ended up destroying in the process of removing the drive.
This isn’t the Sony drive, this is the drive out of Bill’s notebook computer that also died that same week… do we see a pattern here?
The smaller connector on this cable isn’t keyed in the same way that the 3.5 inch connector is. Instead of having a plastic ridge to mate with the channel in the IDE connector on the drive, the smaller connector has one pin opening closed. In the picture above, if you look at the pins on the drive and the holes in the connector, you’ll see what I’m talking about. At least you can’t plug this connector in upside down.
Once you plug it in, you’ll notice that there isn’t a place to plug in the power adapter. No worries though, the drive will receive power from the USB 2.0 port that you plug it into. Like the 3.5 inch drives, the new drive will show up under My Computer or on your Mac desktop. You gotta love plug and play products!
Plug and play
Now works with both 3.5 and 2.5 inch drives
Possible to plug the 3.5 inch connector in upside down