[Updated Mar. 3, 8:56PM PST] A reader in Japan points to new products seen in the stalls of the electronics district of Tokyo that can improve the naked drive lifestyle. However, some readers say enclosures, like pants, may have a benefit for protection of valuable data and your investment in drives.
Joel Ingulsrud, a former colleague in the professional color-calibration business who's now living in Tokyo, directed me to some interesting products he's seen on the streets of the Akihabara district, which is also known by natives as "Electric Town." I've been there once. Fantastic.
First, he mentioned a mini-tower stack that holds 5 naked drives. He said that it's been a "hot-seller recently — with an unfortunate and apparently unintentional product code." He's right: it's called the "CRAP-BK5."
Next is a docking station for SATA drives, called the FireWire Toaster. There's one for 2.5-inch disks and another for 3.5-inch HHDs. The back panel provides a full array of interfaces, including eSATA, USB2, FireWire 400 and 2 FireWire 800 ports.
This unit reminds me a bit of Peerless, an older Iomega removable drive system offered on the market years ago. The hard drive module fit into a proprietary base unit. At the same time, it also looks like a monstrous version of a PC Card reader.
He also pointed to the Naked line of bare drive products by Century Co. Japan. The line lets you build a minimalist "enclosure" for drives with a modular system. The starter is the Naked Bikini, which is a set of small clips for the drive mechanism. No kidding.
Powering the drives can be an issue. The Naked Tribe Two Timer lets users connect two drives to a single AC adapter.
I'm sure a North American distributor will pick up these products.
Meanwhile, some readers advise that it's better to keep the naked drive experience short-term. In a comment, Greg Glockner said he has a couple of bare-drive adaptors, but he uses them only for drive rescues or upgrades.
If you want to use an external drive, get an enclosure. That said, an enclosure offers only limited protection from falls, but it does help keep people and pets from touching the drive itself.
That's a good suggestion, however, naked convenience now is king.
The real issue with these naked or semi-naked solutions is our handling of the drives. Old removable cartridges were engineered for abuse. However, the naked drive isn't and its fixed spindle are vulnerable to shocks that can cause misalignments or other tracking problems.
And the external physical interfaces of these drives weren't designed for frequent connections, unlike eSATA, FireWire and USB PHYs.
Still, naked is attractive both in terms of cost and convenience.