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Connectivity: Newer Technology USB 2.0 Universal Drive Adapter

Hard drive adapter for SATA and PATA devices By Dave Nagel
Summary: Newer Tech's USB 2.0 Universal Drive Adapter is a true innovation in connectivity at a budget price. This adapter is, as it's name implies, universal, supporting SATA and older ATA hard drives in both 2.5-inch and 3.5-inch form factors.
Manufacturer: Newer Technology (
Platform: Mac OS X and Windows
Price: $24.95
Users: Notebook users and those who need quick and easy access to spare drives
Recommendation: Strong Buy

I'm up to my knees in internal hard drives that no longer have a home--some 2.5-inch, some 3.5-inch, some SATA, some PATA. Some are old, some new. And in all cases, I occasionally need to access these drives for the data stored on them. Problem: With all the mixed formats, there's really not a single drive enclosure system that will work for me. And with the ridiculous prices of even the most junky single-drive external enclosures, it's not practical to house them all individually. If only there were a better way....

Well, in case you hadn't already guessed it, there actually is a better way. It' the USB 2.0 Universal Drive Adapter from Newer Technology. And it's truly an innovation in low-cost data connectivity.

The USB 2.0 Universal Drive Adapter is a device that lives up to it name. Offering support for four major hard drive interface types, it connects you to virtually any (except SCI) unenclosed hard drives you might have sitting around. The concept is a simple one. The Universal Drive Adapter consists of a USB cable the has a triple-purpose connector on the other end: one for ATA drives, one for 3.5-inch ATA drives and one for the smaller 2.5-inch ATA drives.

The USB 2.0 Universal Drive Adapter's base cable

It also includes an external power supply, an adapter for connecting power to the drives and a Serial ATA cable.

Components included with the USB 2.0 Universal Drive Adapter

To use it, you simply connect the power and data cables to the drive, then plug the USB connector into your USB 2.0 port. That's it. There is no enclosure. You just connect the drive, copy over whatever data you might need to access at any given time, and then disconnect it. It's that simple.

Now, I happen to be the ideal custom for this particular device in that have have one or more of each type of drive it supports, and each one of these drives is currently without a host computer or enclosure. So, as a reviewer, I had the advantage of being able to test out each one of them. How did the Universal Drive Adapter fare?


In no case did I encounter ay problems with the drives whatsoever--not with recognizing the drive, not with mounting the rive and not with transferring data from the drive.

In fact, in one case (my 2.5-inch standard ATA drive), the drive had previously been "destroyed" by something faulty in another manufacturer's enclosure, and there was basically nothing I could do with it. Hooking it up to the USB 2.0 Universal Drive adapter, I got my MacBook to recognize the drive and reformat it, which I was unable to do previously.

Just to show you how these things connect up, here's a look at each one of the drive types supported, along with connections using the supplied equipment.

First up, we have a modern Serial ATA 3.5-inch drive, in this case from Maxtor. This one was previously part of an internal RAID in my G5. I took apart the RAID owing to heat issues, and the drives became high-performance paperweights until now.

Here we have a 3.5-inch standard (old-style) ATA drive that was the base drives in one of my old G4s. It's been sitting loose since my G4's motherboard, CPU ad power supply got fried in a power surge. And now, with the Universal Drive Adapter, it provides me with a few extra gigs of storage, plus access to the family photos that might otherwise have been lost to the ages. This unit is an old Seagate Barracuda.

Next up: a 2.5-inch Serial ATA drive. This is the stock unit that shipped in my 13-inch MacBook. I'd given it up for a loss, since, as of right now, 2.5-inch ATA enclosures are pretty much non-existant. But now it's good as gold, serving as 60 extra GB of ultra-portable storage. This particular unit is a Fujitsu SATA drive.

And, finally, we come to this 2.5-inch ATA drive. This was the drive that had previously been fried and, again, given up for dead. This unit is a Hitachi Travelstar. Note that in this configuration, the external power need not be connected up to the drive itself.

So how's that for versatility? Not bad at all.

And the best part? You get all this for about $25--the cost of one clunky, ultra-low-end external USB enclosure on clearance at your local computer retailer. And I'd call that one H-E-double-hockeysticks of a good deal!

Now, obviously, this is not something you'd want to be using for continuous connection to a drive, since this is just an adapter and doesn't provide any protection or cooling for the drives. But it is a fantastic gizmo to have around should you need to access older drives on a newer computer or simply want to use old drives for quick transfers.

The bottom line
Newer Technology's USB 2.0 Universal Drive Adapter does exactly what it ought to do: It provides connectivity to four major types of hard drives via your computer's USB port--3.5-inch SATA and PATA and 2.5-inch SATA and PATA. t does it flawlessly. And it comes at an extremely reasonable price. At just $25, it does the work of four separate USB drive enclosures. What more could you want? I give the USB 2.0 Universal Drive Adapter a recommendation of Strong Buy.

The USB 2.0 Universal Drive Adapter from Newer Technology is available now for $24.99. It supports Mac OS X and Windows systems. For more information, visit

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Related Keywords:hard drive adapter, usb, usb 2.0, sata, 3.5", 2.5", ata, ide, pata, external, cable


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