Review: WiebeTech UltraDock v4

The UltraDock v4 is WiebeTech’s greatest in its Dock range of products.This unit accepts PATA and SATA on the input side, and eSATA, FireWire 800 (2 powered ports), FireWire 400 (1 powered port), and USB 2 (1 port) on the output side. It’s an amazing small piece of hardware that’s indispensable to anyone who wants to use bare disks and Blu-Ray drives.

WiebeTech used to be small company. Today, it’s been acquired by CRU-Dataport, a well-known company specialised in forensic hardware. Wiebetech used to do that too, and still does, but CRU-Dataport has an incredibly large range of those products.

Luckily for us, Wiebetech’s new owners have decided to keep the existing products alive, and improved. UtraDock v4 is probably the most modest of their products. It’s a small, aluminium box with some cable attached to it that can accept a hard disk or media burner and connect it to a Mac via any other interface you care to throw at it. UltraDock v4 does this for SATA and PATA (IDE) 3″5 and 2″5 disks with standard interfaces at the input side, and it can be expanded to accept any type of disk using WiebeTech’s adapter extension kit (which comes in a cool Pelican case). By default, the UltraDock v4 comes with all possible grade 1 cables delivered.

The UltraDock v4 is indispensable to people who have bare ATA/SATA disks and media burners lying around. It’s also great if you have spare disks that you want to use as a backup medium without having to buy an enclosure or worry about disk temperature.

The UltraDock v4 has a power adapter that provides external power to the unit itself and to the connected hardware. If you want it, you can also power the unit by connecting an internal power plug from your Mac. You can connect one hardware product at a time. If you’re connecting a PATA disk or media burner, you use the flat cable and classical power connector; the flat cable can be disconnected from the unit, the power cable cannot.

Both in PATA and SATA “mode”, UltraDock v4 is a charm to use. There’s no added noise of a ventilator, and as the unit comes with an alumimium metal sheet to which you can attach a disk, there’s little risk of overheating. I tested several SATA disks with iDefrag, my favoured application to heat up disk drives and see how they react to the continuous spinning and head movements. None of the disks became hotter than 40 degrees (Centigrade/Celsius).

UltraDock with disk

The numerous LEDs on top of the UltraDock v4 inform you about power on both sides of the fence and activity. I also tested the unit using several DVD and Blu-Ray burners and Toast Titanium 10 recognized each of them without a glitch, and burned disks at optimal speed. The UltraDock never got in the way.

In short: UltraDock v4 is a must-have, even if you don’t have bare drives you want to use. It can solve problems with drives inside enclosures that add their own stream of code so the host application gets confused. The UltraDock comes in two versions: the one I tested was the general purpose one. There is also — as expected — a forensic version. UltraDock will set you back approx. 150.00 Euros.

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J.D. – Copywriter – Tech. Writer – Editor at Visuals Producer – Contributor at Photoshop User, Studio Daily – Sub-editor at RedShark News

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