The Ineo USB 3.0 HDD Docking Station is the first such device we've seen that supports USB 3.0. It supports 2.5-inch and 3.5-inch SATA hard-drive designs in one compact unit, and it performs well with both USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 connections. It's well worth its price tag of just about $45.
If you are working a lot with internal hard drives and your computer has a USB 3.0 port, the Ineo USB 3.0 HDD Docking Station is a must-have. On the downside, the Ineo Docking Station doesn't have FireWire or eSATA connections and it doesn't support the older IDE hard drive standard. If you're looking for something that support more connections and don't care much for USB 3.0, we recommend you look at the Voyager Q or the WebbieTech UltraDock V4.
Design and features
Out of the box, the Ineo USB 3.0 HDD Docking Station looks somewhat like a compact, white version of the Voyager Q, sharing the toaster design with the hard-drive slot on top. You can insert an internal hard drive vertically into this slot, much like you would insert a piece of bread into a toaster. The device can handle both the 2.5-inch and 3.5-inch designs of SATA hard drive. The opening of the slot features a spring-loaded latch that automatically secures the hard drive, regardless of its thickness. However, you won't be able to use legacy IDE hard drives with it.
The Ineo has nothing on its front surface apart from the Ineo logo. On the top right end there's a color-changing LED that shows the status of the device. Solid blue means the drive is on and flashing pink means data is being transferred. On the back, there's a USB 3.0 port and a power switch. For computers that have USB 3.0, the docks lack of eSATA and FireWire support doesn't really matter--USB 3.0 is by far the fastest peripheral connection to date. However, since most existing computers don't support USB 3.0, we wish the Ineo also offered other connection options.
Where the Ineo is clearly better than the Voyager Q is its power adapter. It's small and compact compared with the bulky model on the Voyager Q.
Like most docking stations, the Ineo requires no setup, and there's no software to install. All you need to do is connect it to a computer via an USB port (preferably an 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.
We tried the Ineo USB 3.0 HDD Docking Station with a few different hard drives and were very pleased with its performance. Each single hard drive could be hot plugged, meaning it can be removed or inserted when the computer is running.
When tested with a USB 3.0 connection, the device registered speeds up to 78.9MBps for the Write test and 59.5MBps for the Read test. Compared to the 72.6MBps (Write) and 59.4 (Read) of the Seagate BlackArmor PS 110 USB 3.0, these scores were slightly faster. The Seagate is the first USB 3.0 external hard drive we reviewed. Note that all hard drives used in the test are based on SATA 2 (3Gbps), which is slower than the ceiling speed of the USB 3.0 (5Gbps). This means when used with upcoming SATA 3 (6Gbps) hard drives, the Ineo will be potentially even faster.
When used with a USB 2.0 port the Ineo also did well with 23.8MBps (Write) and 29.9MBps (Read). These scores were within the average among USB 2.0 external hard drives we've tested.
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
The Ineo also worked very quietly in our testing. We didn't run into any trouble working with it.
Service and support
We believe that you won't need much support for the Ineo USB 3.0 HDD Docking Station. But in case you do need it, it comes with a one-year warranty. According to Ineo, during this time it will repair the device for free. At Ineo's Web site, we found only the download for the device's manual and a tech support e-mail address.