My inner recycler loves finding new ways to use old tech products, so Wiebetech's TrayDock hot-swappable hard-drive enclosure intrigued me. The product lets you convert any internal IDE or SATA hard drive into an external unit perfect for backups. In my tests the product worked well, although for $170 (sans drive) it isn't the best option for people seeking a basic, inexpensive backup solution.
The aptly named TrayDock is a solidly built, black metal box with a removable tray. The basic bundle comes with either an empty IDE tray or an empty SATA tray (additional trays sell for $50 apiece). Wiebetech also sells the box with a SATA or IDE hard drive (prices start at $250 for a 120GB unit). Because I always seem to have a few hard drives lying around, I opted for a unit with an empty IDE tray.
You connect your drive to the short IDE (or SATA) and power cables built into the tray. You then slide the tray into the TrayDock, plug in the unit's AC adapter, connect the TrayDock to your PC via USB 2.0 or FireWire (cables included), and then power it up.
Using USB 2.0 as my connection, my Windows XP system immediately recognized the TrayDock as a USB drive. When I swapped in a second drive, though, I had to turn the box off and on again for Windows to see it. Transfer speeds were acceptable, but I wouldn't advise using the TrayDock drive for demanding tasks like video editing.
If you're simply looking for an affordable external hard drive, you can find a better deal. However, it's an excellent product for anyone who has old drives or who needs to swap in different drives for backup and security purposes.
Easy-to-use device lets you reuse old hard drives and swap in multiple drives for backups.
Price when reviewed: $170, extra trays $50
Current Prices (if available)