On the back, you'll find a regular USB 3.0 port. The device comes with a USB 3.0 cable and works with both USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 ports. It doesn't support any other connection types, such as eSATA or FireWire. However, we don't see this lack as a big shortcoming as USB 3.0 is by far the fastest peripheral connection to date. We do wish the device came with a USB 3.0 add-in PCI card, though, as most existing computers don't have support for USB 3.0.
Like most docking stations, the Vantec NexStar requires no setup and there's no software to install. All you need to do is connect it to a computer via a USB port (preferably a USB 3.0 port), insert a hard drive, and power it on. The computer will then recognize it and you can work with the hard drive as though it were connected to the computer internally. The device works with Windows XP or later and Mac OS 10.4 or later.
We were happy with the Vantec NexStar Hard Drive Dock's performance. We tested it with Windows 7 64-bit and a few different internal hard drives.
When tested with a USB 3.0 connection, the device registered sustained throughput speeds of 99.8MBps for the write test and 113.1MBps for the read test. When used with a USB 2.0 port, the NexStar also did well with 26.71 MBps (write) and 37.8MBps (read). These score were within the average of the fastest USB 2.0 external hard drives we've tested.
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
The Vantec NexStar Hard Drive Dock worked smoothly during our testing without any hiccups.
Service and support
You won't need much help with the Vantec NexStar Hard Drive Dock, but in case you do it comes with a one-year warranty. Vantec's toll tech support phone is available Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. till 6 p.m. PT. The company's Web site includes an FAQ section, a searchable knowledgebase, and an RMA center.