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Peripheral Round-Up: Vantec SATA/IDE to USB 2.0 Adapter, Creative Zen Mozaic 4GB

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Today’s entries focus on data recovery and portable music.

Vantec SATA/IDE to USB 2.0 Adapter

When would you use this funny-shaped adapter that looks like the lower intestine of a desktop computer?  There are all kinds of useful applications.

First, say your computer dies due to a power or motherboard issue.  How will you get all that data off your drive?  What if you get a virus that is nasty enough to prevent your computer from booting?

Skip the thousands of dollars on data recovery specialists and instead spend $15 on this adapter, pull the hard drive out of your system, connect it to the adapter, plug the adapter into the USB port on another computer, and voila – there’s your data.

It’s useful for data recovery, obviously, but also for other troubleshooting with drives that are acting flaky or won’t boot.  Take it out, plug it into this gizmo, and you can run utilities or other tests, format, or even wipe the drive.  I wouldn’t recommend using it as a permanent solution for making an internal drive into an external; there are enclosures for that which are much more secure.  For diagnostics and saving your data, though, this is the kind of thing anyone – tech novice to wizard – should have handy.

Creative Zen Mozaic 4GB

Granted, it’s not the most current release, but after the iPod Nano, there haven’t been many great strides short of bolting on a touch screen to MP3 players.  I brought home this little guy and showed it to my iPod-devout girlfriend, and given the smaller form factor, support for more media types, drag-and-drop MP3 migration and playlist creation WITHOUT having to screw around with iTunes, and a built-in FM radio tuner (the iPod got this later).

Overall it’s a great device.  The sound playback is good and customizable for those who like to tinker with equalizers.  You can make playlists on the fly or connect it to any PC and build them with simple copy/paste ease of use.  Photos and video play back really well despite the small screen size, and I’ve had no performance issues with the device on its own.

It’s one Achilles heel is in the charging interface.  It only comes with a USB charging cable, no standard wall adapter, which wouldn’t be a problem except for the fact that it doesn’t charge normally off other USB chargers or wall adapters.  You can charge if off a computer’s powered USB port or another device it can “communicate” with, but if you connect it to an iPod wall charger, you’ll get nothing.  The only exception I’ve found is a PlayStation 3 controller charger seems to charge it properly, though sometimes I have to press the Reset button on the Mozaic after recharge to get it to turn on properly.

Having said all that, to be free of the shackles of iTunes, use my MP3s my way, and have another tiny, portable storage/display device for photos and video, and at a price much smaller than that of the Apple equivalent, it’s worth the minor headaches with charging.

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About Mark Buckingham

  • Jessie

    Found this through a Google search… I’m also the proud owner of a Mozaic, and I’m curious to know if you’ve since found a wall charger that DOES work. Without dropping the $30 for a Creative adapter, that is. I love the Creative line and refuse to purchase iThings, but the charging thing really is a pain in the arse.