It should come as no surprise that manufacturers out there looking to cash in on the Apple cash cow have trended towards developing products specifically made for Apple enthusiasts. Most products made for Mac involve silver or aluminum color schemes - rarely do they brandish some sort of Apple logo due to trademark and copyright infringement laws. However, peruse eBay and you will find some interesting little toys that slip under the radar - and mimic Apple made accessories down to the accessories included. Today we review two such items - the iHDD portable hard drive enclosure. As far as we can tell there is no manufacturer that claims ownership of producing these items, but as items for Apple enthusiasts to use and show off to friends, these products are worth a look. Check them out after the break!
There are a few sellers of of the iHDD on eBay at the moment and for the most part they are based out Hong Kong. I was able to secure my products from a USA based seller that had an inventory of them, but chances are if you are looking to purchase these items, you will have a 2 week wait for them from overseas.
To kick off this review, looking at the box and packaging of the items, you will notice the similarities the products have to official Apple products. The iHDD has the classic black box with a picture of the product and the iconic apple in the top corner. You will also notice similarities down to the label with the serial number and barcode. Impressive so far. The iHDD sits in a plastic form fitted seat and the documentation will make you smile - looks just like Apple documentation. If you didn't know that Apple doesn't carry these products then you could easily be fooled into thinking you are actually looking at a genuine product. Looking at the iHub2, you will see that the hub sits in a clear plastic case much like the iPod line up. The only give away to the authenticity is the cheesy cardboard that the iHub2 sits on inside the box. Still, a very nicely packaged product.
Open up the box and you will find the hard drive enclosure in two pieces and the actual board that connects to the hard drive sits separately outside of the case. You will also find a a couple of instructional booklets that are quite comical in how they compare to genuine apple products. VERY similar! However the information in the booklets will tell you everything you already know if you were savvy enough to purchase this enclosure. The hard drive enclosure also comes with a white usb mini usb to usb cable.
The build quality of the hard drive enclosure was at first, questionable to me since it is purely plastic. Despite the questional sturdiness of the drive, there is no denying that the drive enclosure is sexy looking. The smooth plastic has a clean and perfect apple engraving on the top of the case, and grooves inlaid on the sides of the case for easy handling. On the back of the case, there is a large printed iHDD, and some writing on the bottom that is similar to what you would see on real apple products - the usual "Made in California" etc.
The drive works as it should, and does not require an extra power adapter. It is bus powered and allows you to just tote around the 6inch USB cable that it came with. There is also a tiny indicator light that shines white light when the drive is in use. Because it is plastic, the drive is very light weight. In this review, I used a light SSD that is impervious to vibration or movement. I question the safety of using a traditional hard drive with this enclosure as there is virtually no shock absorption or dampening. Look at the pictures and you will see the hard drive itself will sit snugly with no movement in the enclosure.
All in all, since I am using a SSD in this case, I think this is a good buy. The case looks smooth and very Apple-esque, and it is smaller than other external enclosures that require screws and other methods of putting the case together. The curved corners and the clean lines makes this case an attractive one. Hard drive cases go from $7-$30 these days, and this one can be had on eBay for around $12 or up. The downside of this is that these enclosures come from Hong Kong unless you are fortunate to find a US based reseller. Note: Apple is very stringent on the use of Apple branding on products and therefore, it may be very difficult to find one of these.
Stay tuned for the iHub 2 review!