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Overview

The BytePac kit we are looking at in this review takes a different,innovative approach to an external HDD enclosure.

Firstly the enclosure itself is basically a cleverly engineered cardboard box designed to hold a 3.5" or 2.5" HDD securely. Convar Inc have elected for cardboard instead of metal or plastic to the eco friendly properties of cardboard as well as the cost aspects. Need more cases? You can buy them in multiple packs which double as storage containers for your hard drives.

Secondly, the electronics that connect the HDD itself to the host PC are completely independent to the enclosure. The electronics are integrated 'downstream' from the enclosure as two adapters that connect into the interface cable. The idea is if there is an electronics failure, the commodity part can be easily and simply replaced. IN theory that is a great idea but in practice the components we tested are proprietary in nature and not common to the industry.

Thirdly, this modular design allows nearly infinite interface possibility which would not be possible had the SATA-USB circuit be inside the enclosure. With Convar using eSATA as the backbone for the BytePac kit, various types of adapters can be made available to convert SATA to USB2, USB3 or Thunderbolt without having to change the design of the kit itself. There is also an Optional IDE adapter to fit into the cable chain.

As a 'bonus', the kit supports eSATAp, powered ESATA of which both variants are supported by the kit, 5V and 12V. With the appropriate motherboard, 2.5 or 3.5" drives can be powered by the host system over eSATAp without a power supply. However we have not seen a widely available motherboard or laptop that supports eSATAp 12V, however 5v is very common as all laptops that have a eSATA/USB combo port or some Top Tier motherboards have such a port.

If you do not have eSATAp or are using a 3.5" drive, the BytePac Kit includes a power injector to connect the also included 12V Power Supply just as any other external HDD.

The Gigabyte 990FXA-UD7 motherboard we used for this test supported eSATAp on its two eSATA ports.

We could only get our test 2.5" Hitachi SATA HDD to power up correctly one of the ports.

eSATAp has limited appeal and utility unless you are lucky enough to have a PC with eSATAp 12V support and even then it would need to support up to ~20 Watts maximum over the cable to properly power a 3.5" 7200RPM HDD.

eSATA's main utility is to provide a easy way to natively connect a SATA HDD to a PC or to provide a high speed backup medium to a laptop, however USB 3 makes some uses of ESATA rather redundant. BytePac does offer a USB3 version of their kit which we think is more useful however we were not sampled this variant.

The BytePac enclosure kit offers a smartly engineered flexible drive connection system that is eco-friendly at the same time.

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