Welland Ezstor ME-751 Tool free 3.5” SATA dock

ReviewHardware 3 years ago by
Pros Easy to install
Lock and key mechanism
Tool less installation of HDD
Comes with all necessary cables
No compromise on performance
Hot swap
Cons Door / Latch construction
Presentation  7
Performance  6
Usability  7
Features  6
Value  9

One of the best features that I have seen in the recent cases that I have used/ reviewed is the presence of hot-swap SATA bays. They are a life saver for anyone who does a lot of disk swaps (for whatever reasons). It is the one feature that has always tempted me to change my primary computer case (a venerable Stacker 830).

For those of us who don’t want to part with their beloved computer chassis (again for whatever reasons) there are external and internal solutions that provide hot swap capability. Today we’ll be looking at one such solution from Welland.

Welland is East Asian manufacturer of DIY storage solutions. There OEM is Optimark Technology located in Dong Guan China. A quick browse of their website reveals several categories of storage solutions. These include Network Attached Storage (NAS), hard disk docks including those on based on the latest USB 3.0 standard. Recently they also introduced a device called 3D wizard which claims to convert 2D content to 3D and display it on existing 2D (and 3D) HDTVs.

Though the company has been around since 1988, it is very difficult to find reviews for any of their products (at least those bearing the ‘Welland’ badge).

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The product comes in a very Welland looking box (lots of greens and white).

The front of the box has a picture of the product and three small icons which display the main features of the product –SATA 3Gbps, 3.5” SATA drive support and tool free hard disk installation in the device.

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The back of the box details some of the features of the product as well as it specs. The main features are listed in English (at the top) and several other languages (bottom). At the right are a couple pictures that show off salient features of the device

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The actual product lies inside a flip-top box enshrouded in protective foam like material.

The packaging is very basic externally. Internally it is well done. There is the flip-top box and the protective foam which will be enough to protect the device from almost all trials of shipping.

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The 5.25” sized bay is made up of plastic and metal parts. The central part of the mount is a hollow cavity. This is where the hard drive fits. A metal wire helps guide the hard-disk in its place. The electrical interface is located at the back of the device.

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The device fits a 5.25” bay via two metal rails which come attached to the drive. To minimize vibrations these are attached to the main bay via silicon washers and screws.

The front of the product is mostly plastic. The bulk of it is taken up by the door which swings open by pulling the latch next to the locking mechanism. The latch has a SATA label on it. Next to the latch is a perforated door which allows for hard disk ventilation. The rest of the door has the “Welland” logo.

The fastening mechanism is via a simple lock and key mechanism. It is possible to lock the device even without the disk being present inside. The power and activity LEDs are located below the lock

The device fits a 5.25” bay via two metal rails which come attached to the drive. To minimize vibrations these are attached to the main bay via silicon washers and screws.

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The front of the product is mostly plastic. The bulk of it is taken up by the door which swings open by pulling the latch next to the locking mechanism. The latch has a SATA label on it. Next to the latch is a perforated door which allows for hard disk ventilation. The rest of the door has the “Welland” logo.

The fastening mechanism is via a simple lock and key mechanism. It is possible to lock the device even without the disk being present inside. The power and activity LEDs are located below the lock.

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The back of the unit has the SATA interface (in red and below) and the LED control circuit (green).

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The SATA interface sports a ‘scratch proof’ design which is good for at least 50,000 insert/eject events.

The disk is inserted by pulling the latch on the front to open the door.

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As the door is opened a metal arm with a plastic head rotates into the bay. This helps eject the drive (in red; if one were in it)

The drive is simply inserted through the door

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The door then can be closed (and locked if desired) to mount the drive

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This how the device looks (below) mounted in our test machine. Notice the multi color lit interior!

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Notice the blue LED. This indicates that a drive is mounted in the bay. An activity orange LED is located next to this.

The device comes with a full set of accessories that includes all that is needed to install and run the product. You get 4 screws, two cables (power and data), as well as a quick installation guide and the two keys to lock and unlock the drive

The power cable requires a 4 pin molex connector (for power). The power and activity LEDs are powered by a smaller connector forked off the same cable. Though is possible to use a standard SATA cable, but that would make the LEDs inactive. The SATA cable is your standard run of the mill type.

The drive installation is a no brainer and is possible to do without opening the installation guide. Though for novices the guide would definitely come in handy.

The device seems to be well constructed. The only iffy component (if you can call it that) is the latch on the door and perhaps the door itself. It seems too fragile and flimsy. Once a drive is inserted, the door does offer some resistance before it closes. At times I was scared that door would simply come off. Thank fully that has not happened yet (and I did try it quite a few times just to see if I can yank it off!)
The device should work in any computer with a free 5.25” bay, SATA connectivity and motherboard south bridge ICH 7 or better (for Intel boards). This implies that the board will work with almost all Core series boards. The product will also work in a LGA 1156/1155 socket motherboard that does not feature a discrete south bridge (as the functionality is integrated in the PCH). The product is compatible with all recent versions of Windows including Windows 7.

We are going to test this device to see how it performs in comparison to plugging the drive directly to the motherboard. Though this is a purely academic test (as there should be no difference in performance), it is being done to satisfy the editors who love to see charts and numbers in a review

The hard drive that will be used for testing is a venerable Maxtor 320GB unit.

The HD Tach short tests will be used to gauge average read and write speeds.

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As you can see the device bay device (EZSTOR) functions exactly as if the drive was plugged into the motherboard.

The hot-swap capability was also tested. As expected it worked as advertised.

These devices can be an amazing time saver. They are easy to use and can improve productivity by many folds. The Welland EZSTOR is as good as any device in its category. It comes with all that is necessary to get the product up and running and features a handy locking mechanism so your data is secure as long as you don’t keep the key with the device. The LED lights are bright but not overly so. About the only concern that I have is the construction of the latch and to an extent the door. They seem a little to delicate for my liking.

 

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7
Good
Detailed Score

The Welland EZSTOR is as good as any device in its category. It comes with all that is necessary to get the product up and running and features a handy locking mechanism so your data is secure as long as you don’t keep the key with the device. The LED lights are bright but not overly so.

I am an avid console / PC gamer, I own a PC and a PS3 along with a DS Lite. I follow all major game releases and am very familiar with major titles. I am part of the games review team on the site, so watch for my reviews of all major titles as they release.

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