Since I needed another hard drive for my server but lacked the space inside the case, I needed a solution that could be external to my server case, but still had the speed that the SATA interface adds. After a lot research, I settled on the Azio External eSATA Hard Drive Kit. What makes this external drive shine is its eSata interface.
What's the difference between eSATA and SATA? Are they compatible? Do I need to buy a new interface card to work with a SATA drive? No. There isn't any difference whatsoever between eSATA and SATA except that eSATA cables have a different connector, have higher bandwidth capabilities, and are therefore more heavily shielded. If we were to stick with a regular SATA cable, we'd run into a lot of electromagnetic interference issues, so it requires a heavier duty cable. Realistically, the developers of eSATA could have been kind and kept the same connector type, but all in all its just a higher grade SATA connector.
What's great about this kit is that it includes all the cabling necessary. It comes with a bracket that slides into your computer like you would a PCI card that plugs into your existing internal SATA interface, which exposes on the backside the eSATA socket. You get the adapter, eSATA cable, power brick, and a USB 2.0 cable inside the box.
Setup is really easy for the connection, though I felt that the case itself lacked a little in design. The case is held together by eight small screws, four of which you have to remove to install your hard drive. Maybe I'm just spoiled by an iPod's screwless design, but exposing eight of them seemed a little ridiculous. A little more design could have made it appear a little bit better.
But how does it perform? Like a champ! I don't have any official benchmarks, but it performs just as well as if it were inside my machine with my other drives.
Some people on Newegg's reviews have complained that the drive gets extremely hot. This may have a little to do with the HD that you stick inside, but more than anything, I think it has more to do with the air ventilation that the drive gets. It so happens (not really) that my server sits not only near a ceiling fan, but a central AC vent, so it gets plenty of airflow. That said I can say that the drive barely gets warm.
Now to my last complaint. Why do manufacturer's insist on big, bright blue LEDs on their products is a little unconscionable. This is exacerbated by the fact that my server already has an LED flashing when the drive is being accessed. It would be nice if the drive didn't use the light when it's in SATA mode, utilizing instead when you use it as a USB device.
Overall, this is a great product. There are a few aesthetic details that leave a bit to be desired, but as an external drive delivering SATA speed, this enclosure definitely measures up.