USB 2.0 External MAP-K51U Media Bay Review
USB 2.0 is the latest standard to hit mainstream integration, and with it comes the promise of Firewire (IEEE1394) like transfer speeds. While USB has technically been a standard for quite some time now, USB2.0 is
only now starting to find itself as common add-on with some fully featured motherboards. MSI were one of the first to offer a USB2.0 enabled motherboard with their K7T266Pro-RU, and most subsequent boards now have it onboard in addition to a full compliment of USB 1.1 ports
offers up data transfer rates of up to 480Mb/s, a far cry from USB1.1 which can
only support 11Mb/s. While Firewire offers similar data transfer speeds, it is
not compatible with USB. USB 2.0 is on the other hand, is backwards compatible with USB1.1, so if you will not have to throw away all your older peripherals.
There are still just a handful of USB2.0
products available on the marketplace, but one device which caught our interest
recently is this generic USB2.0 External Media Bay. The box actually comes in a
variety of flavours, and will no doubt be available under a half dozen
manufacturer names, but what it does is actually useful (for a generic media bay
The simple beige box has a small circuit board with an
In System chipset that converts ATA66 IDE to USB 2.0. Either a 5.25" or a 3.5"
IDE device can be hooked up, and in the case of a hard drive, there is even
space at the front for a small (and almost useless) fan.
The MAP-K51U generic media bay is rather expensive
however, retailing for roughly $110USD.
What you get for that price is an internal 120V power supply, the IDE to
USB2.0 conversion circuit and a set of left and right RCA audio jacks (in the
case of a CD-ROM. The rear of the box has the power supply plug, a power switch, a
small cooling fan, the USB2.0 jack and the RCA connectors.
On the inside of the unit are three sets of connectors; an ATA66 IDE cable.
Molex power connect, and audio cables. The drive comes with a small pack of
mounting screws and some rubber feet. We kind of expected a really cheap locking
mechanism, but interestingly, there was none. A driver CD is also included with
the unit, but Windows XP or Windows 2000 should really just treat the hard
drive, CDROM or burner like any other USB device.
We set up the MAP-K51U with a 40GB 7200RPM Samsung hard
drive and set about testing it briefly to see what kind of numbers we would see.
A 1GB file took 1 min 30 sec on USB 2.0 to
transfer from the internal hard drive out to the Samsung 40Gb drive,
an 17min 45 sec to transfer when the Media Bay was connected by USB
1.1. The difference is quite dramatic, and underscores just how much we're
really needed USB2.0.
For comparisons sake SiSoft Sandra tested the same Samsung hard drive while connected via USB2.0 and
achieved a 11462 Drive index rating. Conversely, with the Media Bay connected via
USB 1.1 the Drive index was a scant 974.
the Generic MAP-K51U is really expensive, ugly, and remarkably well thought out.
The audio connectors on the rear are really nice touch, and the internal power
supply is quiet and better than an external AC adaptor. That the Media Bay can
accept both 3.5" and 5.25" IDE devices is super, and even though it cost
$110USD, its usefulness at the end of a USB2.0 wire is unquestionable. In the
vacuum that exists before the flood of USB 2.0 devices arrive to market, the
Generic MAP-K51U is an ugly
alternative with a lot of versatility that gets the job done.