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iStarUSA HDD Docking Station (xAGE-N99-SAU Drive Dock)

Storage Accessories For Easier HDD Handling

Product Type: USB 2.0 / eSATA 3.5” HDD Dock

Cost: ~ $35

Product Information:

The second product we received from iStarUSA is a hard drive dock module. It allows the user to plug 2.5” or 3.5” Serial ATA hard drives into the device, which then connects to a host PC either via eSATA or USB 2.0. iStarUSA positions this product as a “simple and compact idea, which offers an easy and convenient way for data backup and recovery, hard drive testing, and fast access to archived hard drives.” Is this an administrator’s favorite HDD tool?

The Device

The device is completely covered by black plastic, and looks like a part of the center console in your car. Hard drives are inserted top down; if you use a 2.5” drive, then you simply have to insert it into the opening, while 3.5” drives will leave the larger cover open once you push the drive inside. The front holds an activity LED, which looks like a power button—this is not the case, though, as the power button is located on the back, right next to the eSATA and USB 2.0 ports. To ensure that the device is stable when standing once you play around with hard drives, iStarUSA equipped the bottom part with a metal plate.

Plug and Jam? 

Unfortunately, we ran into major trouble when we first tried the xAGE-N99-SAU, as we could not plug any drive onto the SATA connector. In theory, it should all be so easy, but it turned out that the build quality of the device is poor. The slot was misplaced by a few millimeters, which we were able to resolve by opening the device, and relocating the SATA connector to make it fit.

How Good is It?

After solving the initial troubles, we repeatedly made use of this device to hook up a hard drive to a host system so we could back up or restore a system image. Performance was bottlenecked to a bit more than 30 MB/s when using USB 2.0, which was expected; you will not experience performance limits if you run the xAGE-N99-SAU using eSATA. iStarUSA also adds protective rubber drive covers, which we recommend using with care, as they could interfere with cooling by insulating the drives. Careful drive handling clearly is more important than using these protective devices anyway.

 Drive Insertion 

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  • 4 Hide
    nihility , July 31, 2009 7:34 AM
    We really need USB 3.0 for external hard drives.
  • -7 Hide
    alagadnidonald , July 31, 2009 11:02 AM
    will Crysis run off these? ^_^
  • -1 Hide
    Glorian , July 31, 2009 3:06 PM
    We really need USB 3.0 for external hard drives.

    we'll get there soon.

    Its too bad the Unitek Docking Station wasn't on a faster interface, but its still a great piece of hardware, I might actually invest in it.
  • -1 Hide
    cadder , July 31, 2009 3:41 PM
    Do all of these allow you to plug in and later remove a SATA drive while the computer is powered up? Do you do the same "Safely Remove Hardware" step with a SATA drive that you do with an external USB drive?
  • -1 Hide
    Anonymous , July 31, 2009 3:56 PM
    "However, the build quality was so poor that we had to open the device and relocate the SATA connectors....."

    is it because Made In China?
  • -1 Hide
    XD_dued , July 31, 2009 4:34 PM
    Imagine a usb 4.0 that will eventually replace SATA ^.^
  • -2 Hide
    xsamitt , July 31, 2009 11:49 PM
    All together now,

    On the 1ST day of Christmas my true love gave to me,a harddrive"
    On the Second day " "
    Think you get the idea
  • -1 Hide
    Anonymous , August 1, 2009 1:02 AM
    "All together now,

    On the 1ST day of Christmas my true love gave to me,a harddrive"
    On the Second day " "
    Think you get the idea"

    That was soo terrible I think it gave me cancer
  • -1 Hide
    patvs , August 1, 2009 3:42 AM
    I can recommend the Sharkoon Quickport PRO (which looks remarkably similar like the HDD Docking Station by iStarUSA). I thought my 3 yr old SATA Maxtor harddrive had died: I couldn't hear it spin, a Windows installation bootcd wouldn't detect the drive... and hooked up inside a different computer in Windows it was unable to read/copy any data. However the Sharkoon docking station (with eSATA) had no problems reading it whatsoever and I could save all the data. :-
  • 0 Hide
    matt87_50 , August 3, 2009 4:15 AM
    the gigabyte ex58 ud4p came with this cool io bracket, it let you convert 1 or 2 internal sata ports into e-sata ports, and more importantly, convert one internal molex power plug into 2 external sata power plugs, came with all the cables you need, and you could use it in any computer.
  • 0 Hide
    mman74 , August 3, 2009 4:30 AM
    idunno"However, the build quality was so poor that we had to open the device and relocate the SATA connectors....."is it because Made In China?

    China assembels everything from iPhone to even Sony LCD panels. Production location has nothing to do with it. Price points do. You pay for crap or buy dodgy unbranded items thorugh US-importers who markup unscrupulously, then guess what - you end up with crap. Look at all of your electronic items - including the branded "quality" items. Most are made in China.
  • 0 Hide
    Humans think , February 1, 2010 2:22 AM
    A friend of mine has bought the "iStarUSA HDD Docking Station (xAGE-N99-SAU Drive Dock)" and he lend it to me to use it for a while.

    I did not notice the eSATA plug problem and it was very fast as the benchmarks showed. The whole black appearance is very sleek and it does what it says for a very small price.

    When comparing to Unitek model, I would go for the iStar for 4 reasons:
    1) It is cheaper
    2) Most people already have card readers or USB hubs or simply at least 6 USB ports.
    3) Subjective comment: Who cares about one touch backup and additional software, I personally don't
    4) Subjective comment: I wouldn't put this ugly thing on my desk :p 
  • 0 Hide
    CTB1 , April 3, 2013 7:31 PM
    I've had my iStar xAGE-N99-US/SAU Toaster for years without problem, didn't remember the make or m/n so I did a search and found this page. Forgot it was an iStar and that it had an eSATA connection. Looking for another toaster with the same features.