Installation is straightforward, but does require a small Philips-head screwdriver. The back of the box, where the sockets are located, has two plastic catches that slide apart and allow the entire panel to be removed. The aluminium top then flips off, exposing the insides and a small motherboard. This board must first be unscrewed, and the hard drive is then attached to this using the provided screws. Once everything is tightly fastened the board and drive are then screwed back into the case, the top returned, and the back panel refastened.
The casing is reasonably sturdy, although concerns must be stated about the strength of the back panel. The plastic clips feel flimsy, and could easily break. However, as you are not likely to be opening the box often this is just a minor worry.
The aluminium top and bottom act as a heat sink for the drive, and even after several hours the unit is only warm to the touch. No problems should occur with overheating.
Connecting to a computer
Unlike a lot of other external cases, the MG-25 only requires a single USB port. This provides both the data connection, and powers the hard drive. Other cases make use of dual-USB ports, or USB and PS/2, in order to obtain sufficient power. The instructions are a little hazy on exactly how it manages to squeeze the 5V required by the hard drive through a 2.5V USB port, but does mention that the USB cable is a ‘special design’. This is possibly true, but when connected to an Acer Travelmate 800 laptop it caused a warning message to appear stating that a ‘power surge was detected on USB hub’. Whilst this was very worrying, it soon disappeared and the drive (and laptop) appeared to work fine thereafter. A search on Google shows that this may be a problem with Windows XP SP2, and doesn’t affect anything else.
If your USB port doesn’t provide the required power, or you are concerned about damaging your computer, then the bundled power supply can be attached. Fortunately this is a very small lightweight power supply, and not the usual brick.
Once attached, and depending upon operating system, the drive should quickly be identified and installed as a normal hard drive. It is then possible to perform whatever tasks are required. A bundled CD provides drivers for older operating systems.
To fully use the MG-25, the drive must be formatted as FAT32 or NTFS. The FAT32 file system is more compatible with other operating systems (Linux, Mac, and earlier Windows), but suffers from a maximum partition size limitation of 32GB. For the purposes of this review, the drive was formatted using NTFS. This allowed a single partition on a 40GB drive. Multiple partitions are supported, although this does deepen the on-screen hierarchy by one level when playing content.
Using SiSoft Sandra 2005, the following disk throughput was recorded:
|Hitachi 40GB in Mediagate MG-25:||17MB/sec|
|Hitachi 80GB in Acer Travelmate:||18MB/sec|
As can be clearly seen, the speed of the drive via USB2.0 is very close to the speed of an internal drive. It should be noted that the drives themselves are not identical and so the test is not entirely accurate. However, for the purposes of this review it gives a good indication.