Manufacturer and Sponsor: Cooler Master
Product on review: Choiix Air-Through Stash
Street Price: £23.84
Our second offering from Choiix, the Air-Through Stash is another which is packaged like the Notepal U2 in a plastic clam-shell. This unit is the second smallest on test here today taking notebooks up to 15 in size only, but this unit does have one rather special feature up it's sleeve a built-in 2.5 HDD dock supporting SATA II drives.
The rear of the package has a small card showing the obligatory Feature and Specifications, the words Notebook Pad in 18 different languages, and product code and serial number information.
Features and Specifications
Compatible with up to 15 Notebook Computers
Center silent 8cm fan for efficient cooling
Compatible with up to 500GB 2.5 SATA II HDD and SATA II SSD
Innovative, convenient, and inexpensive way to expand your notebook HDD storage capacity
Integrated 3-port USB Hub for expanded connectivity
Power On/Off and data transfer LED indicator
Powered directly from notebook USB port
Hot-swappable and Plug and Play compatible no driver installation necessary
Materials: Plastic and Rubber
Dimensions: 230 x 320 x 50mm
Fan Size: 80 x 15mm
Colour: Black, White
A Closer Look
The Air-Through Stash is a great looking piece of kit, the white model we received to test would be a fantastic accompaniment to a Macbook but is equally at home under any other notebook, and of course it comes in Black too. The 80mm fan is one of the smaller ones we have seen today, and on its own it's facing quite a challenge to provide decent cooling performance.
Once turned over the lack of ventilation holes is even more apparent compared to some of the units we have already looked at today however what is also immediately evident is the cover to the 2.5 HDD bay to the right of the fan intake. The area to the left of the fan intake is given over to the 3-port USB Hub internals, with the power switch and activity led along the left hand edge. In the middle behind the fan is where the mini-USB power input is located along with an optional jack socket for external power if required. The USB power cable is of course provided, and as you would expect from Choiix it's colour coded to the model of Air-Through Stash that you have.
The SATA drive bay is a fairly standard device you simply remove the plastic cover and slide in a 2.5 HDD (or SSD if you have one lying around!) of up to 500GB capacity, slotting it into the combined SATA power and data connector on the small PCB visible in the picture above. Replace the cover and you are ready to go! Instant storage which is always available for your notebook what a fantastic idea!
The USB power cable which comes with the Air-Through Stash is a 'Y' type cable meaning that you have to use two of your laptop's USB ports to provide enough power for the drive and the fan. Although the inclusion of a 3-port USB Hub does alleviate this somewhat giving back more ports than you lose but you may find the optional external power supply is needed here if you are going to use a lot of USB devices and have a drive installed.
In use the Air-Through Stash performed admirably and quietly despite it's small single fan the rubber feet underneath the unit made it quite stable, but the lack of rubber grips on the surface was a problem. To overcome this Choiix have included a set of four self-adhesive rubber feet which the user can attach to the surface, positioned according to their own needs unfortunately the ones included with our sample were a dark grey colour which would spoil the clean overall look of it... but hey, we really are being picky with that! (and I guess you could stick them to the bottom of your notebook instead). The plastic construction of the unit is acceptable, but I would have preferred to have seen at least some metal, and maybe some mesh would help airflow and hence cooling too?
SATA HDD dock
3-port USB Hub
Fan power switch
Single small fan