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External Storage With A Mac Design

M9 Mini Pod Details

Macpower offers two versions of the M9 hard drive enclosure.

The M9-LX is a version with USB 2.0 while the M9-DX comes with both USB and Firewire/1394a. Macpower recommends using the Firewire interface rather than USB 2.0, which is pretty much what we found when analyzing our benchmark results.

Initially, the device does not come with a hard drive, but retailers will certainly add one before it reaches consumers. In case you want to put a hard drive in the Mini Pod yourself, Serial ATA is not supported in case you want to add an UltraATA hard drive. We received a version with a 400 GB Hitachi DeskStar 7K400 hard drive. As with every USB 2.0 or Firewire/1394a storage device, the interface will prevent data transfer rates from reaching potential maximum. Up to 40 MB/s can be transferred over 1394a while USB 2.0 hits its ceiling at over 30 MB/s.

From a performance point of view, a Firewire/1394b interface supporting double the bandwidth (800 Mbit/s) would suit this neat device very well. However, we expect eSATA (external SATA) to be the most readily available storage type over the next couple of months, as it combines the advantages of Serial ATA, including high bandwidth and easy cabling, with the luxury of running devices externally.

You will find a status LED at the front of the device. This lights up blue as soon as the device is turned on, and it will change to an almost white color tone when there is drive activity.

At the back side of the Mini Pod M9-DX you will find two dip switches. The left one is used to set the device to manual or automatic fan mode. With the manual option, the right switch allows the fan to be set in low or high speed. In high-speed mode, the fan operation's is clearly noticeable. We would recommend operating the device in automatic mode, because it proved to do a nice job.

Not only does it come with USB 2.0 and Firewire 1394a interfaces, but the MiniPod also includes a USB hub. The dip switches (red) are used to control the fan speed.