Athena Power EB-2319B2 External Drive Enclosure

There are many practical uses for external hard drives. Perhaps youre a computer tech on the road, or even a weekend warrior who helps out friends and family. In both cases, its helpful to carry as many programs and utilities with you as possible. External hard drives are a great way to move large files (such as movies or MP3 collections) between home and work. Theyre also great for laptop owners looking for expand limited storage space. If you already have a spare hard drive lying around your home or office, you might consider purchasing an external hard drive enclosure, which will house your hard drive and allow you to simply connect it to your computer.

Athenas EB-2319B2 External Enclosure is one such device. The unit, which retails for $39.99, allows users to install an IDE hard drive into the unit and connect it to a PC or Macintosh via either USB or Firewire.

Immediately upon opening the box, the units level of cheapness becomes apparent. Included in the box is the unit itself, a USB cable, and power supply, and the instruction pamphlet. To Athenas defense, theres not much explination needed unscrew four plastic thumb screw to remove the units top to reveal the mostly hollow insides. In the inside rear of the container is a small PCB with IDE and power connectors. To install a hard drive, simply place the drive inside the container, line up the connectors, and push it back into place. The power connections position is slightly adjustable, but not very.

To test the unit, I grabbed a stack of old hard drives from my garage. It became apparent to me very quickly that the Athena was designed for newer and not older hard drives. None of my old Conner or Seagate hard drives from the late 90s would fit in the unit the power adapter simply could not be shifted far enough over to fit in the drives. All the Western Digital drives I tried fit, however I had mixed results from a few of them until I removed the master/slave jumpers, something not mentioned in the documentation. All the modern drives I tried worked in the unit, which means it works well with newer drives but if you have a 3-4 year old drive youre wanting to use with the Athena you might try it out in a store first.

Once the drive was installed, power must be supplied via a provided power adapter which plugs into the wall. With power and USB cables connected, Windows XP recognized the unit instantly, and in a matter of seconds I had an E: drive appear.

While powered up, the entire case glows with blue LEDs. When the drive is being accessed, the entire front of the unit flashes orange (more LEDs). Long term users may tire of the light show, which makes the entire unit look like a crashlanded UFO. And in case the neighbors call and complain, theres no way to disable the flashing lights.

SUMMARY: Although the unit feels cheap and many of my older hard drives wouldnt fit, the unit worked as advertised with newer hard drives. For a long term solution, potential owners may want to move up a level and look in the $50-$60 range for something a little more sturdy.

Purchased from PC-Club for $39.99 (March 2006)

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