Storage Accessories for Geeks and Pros

Wiebetech Combo Dock V4

Wiebetech offers two similar products on its Website: The Combo Dock v4 and the SATA Dock v4. It's not hard to imagine that the Combo Dock is for UltraATA drives, while the SATA Dock (see below) was designed for SATA. v4 represents fourth-generation storage adapters for 3.5" drives with Firewire and USB connections. Wiebetech focused on Firewire 800 and USB 2.0 to offer maximum throughput.

The Combo Dock is a little box that allows users to run any UltraATA hard drive via USB 2.0 or Firewire 800. The device is compatible with Firewire 400, but you'll have to get conversion cables yourself. Wiebetech provides a small power supply, which makes the Combo Dock v4 independent of Molex power cabling, but it still has a Molex connector that can be used instead of the stand-alone power supply. We like how the solution is boxed, because it protects the components and should help to boost the Combo Dock v4's lifespan. Wiebetech also provides a metal plate, which you can mount to the bottom of a hard drive to protect its circuit board.

Although all hard drives automatically move the heads into a secure parking position once the power is switched off, the Combo Dock v4 has a hardware power switch. Four LEDs display 12 V power, USB connections, hard drive activity or a Firewire uplink. An 80-pin ribbon cable and a Molex power cable have to be used to hook up UltraATA hard drives to the Combo Dock. We tried several models and didn't encounter any problems.

The Combo Dock v4 maxed out at 64.8 MB/s when using Firewire 800 and at 31.9 MB/s with USB 2.0. Both results are within the expected range. However, the SATA Dock v4 is considerably faster with Firewire 800. There also is a Forensic Combo Dock, which only supports reads for data recovery or forensic analysis.