A common scenario I've been hearing a lot about lately is the enthusiast who has a full compliment of hard drives and a pair of opticals and still wants to add another burner of some sort. A number of times I've seen a recommendation to get some sort of PCI board that provides additional IDE channels, but making sure this board is compatible with ATAPI devices. While this will work, I have run into configuration problems in the past when using this type of solution.
Well now there is another manner to access those extra optical components; the Vantec NexStar 2 5.25" External Drive Enclosure. It worked flawlessly during the entire spectrum of testing and played back DVD movies without a hitch. You have a choice between USB 2.0 or Firewire, but for those who don't have Firewire access you can save a few bucks and purchase the model with just the USB interface.
Though not formally tested for speed, I was also able to burn CD disks using both interfaces and data was burned perfectly. This is just icing on the cake for a device that already had a lot going for it. Everything worked just as advertised and there were no compatibility problems at all. It was really that good!
As far as price is concerned, MSRP (Manufacturers Suggested Retail Price) is US$52.99 for the model tested and US$38.99 for the version with only USB support. Expect lower prices through your favorite online eTailer when these things get out to the masses. While not exactly cheap, the pricing isn't terribly out of line considering what a decent PCI based IDE board can run you, and you still won't have the configuration issues to look forward to.
Bottom line... If you just happen to have some extra optical drives sitting on a shelf taking up space and want a means to make use of them, this is the just the ticket. With perfect compatibility and painless installation, there is just no reason to not allow those devices to lead a productive life again.
Works flawlessly during all methods of drive usage
Excellent drive performance
USB and IEEE1394 interfaces
Truly Plug n Play (for those running WinME and up)
Rating 9.5 out of 10 and TweakTown's MUST HAVE Best Performance Award!
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