Installation, as anticipated, was an absolute breeze. I plugged in the power and USB cables, then inserted a hard drive into the dock. The computer took a few moments to recognize and process the drive. Once I was given the "green light", I was able to access the drive via My Computer like any other drive. It doesn't get much easier than this. You can see the power and HDD activity LEDs in the photos above.
For testing, I ran two benchmark programs: SiSoft Sandra Lite XII SP1 (2008.1.13.12) and HD Tune 2.53. I will be using a 3.5" Western Digital Caviar SE 80Gb, 7200 RPM SATA drive. First up, Sandra's Physical Disks benchmark.
Sandra reported a Drive Index of 30.06 MB/s, which is pretty much what I expected from this drive. Keep in mind that the dock uses a USB 2.0 interface, so this will ultimately limit you in terms of data transfer speeds.
Next up, HD Tune 2.53.
Again, the results were pretty much as-anticipated and right on with other external USB HDD solutions.
As mentioned in the introduction, the BlacX USB Hard Drive Docking Station is such a simple, yet brilliant idea and I am surprised nobody else thought of this sooner. For those users who have multiple hard drives, both 2.5" and 3.5", and don't want to store them inside your computer (or don't have enough room), the BlacX is a must-have. Support for both Windows and Mac operating systems is a definite plus. Sure, you could do essentially the same thing with pretty much any external HDD enclosure, but that requires you to take the enclosure apart, install the drive, then re-build the enclosure... a lot of extra work. With the BlacX, simply slide the drive(s) in and out; that's it.
The BlacX worked great during our testing, but there are two small shortcomings that I found. First, the power cable is a bit on the short side, measuring in at only 4'. This may be quite a stretch for some users. Second, I would like to have seen eSATA support on the BlacX. I realize that not everyone has eSATA capability, but for those that do, the increased data transfer speeds would have been nice.
As of writing, the Thermaltake BlacX USB Hard Drive Docking Station retails for $39.99 at a popular online reseller.
The Thermaltake BlacX USB Hard Drive Docking Station has earned the OCIA.net Seal of Approval.