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This pocket-sized SSD enclosure makes external drives exciting again

Packed into this tiny SSD enclosure is an LCD display, power-loss protection, and stats about everything related to the storage drive's health and performance.
Written by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, Senior Contributing Editor
  Dockcase Pocket M.2 NVMe Smart SSD Enclosure

Dockcase Pocket M.2 NVMe Smart SSD Enclosure.


I didn't think I could get excited about an external SSD again. They're normally just boxes with storage drives in the inside that you don't pay attention to until they fill up or die.

The Dockcase Pocket M.2 NVMe Smart SSD Enclosure rewrites the rules by making the external drive small enough to fit on a keychain, and yet still having enough space for a display that tells you everything you need to know related to the storage drive's health and performance. 

View at Kickstarter

Dockcase Pocket M.2 NVMe Smart SSD Enclosure tech specs

  • Display: 1.33-inch IPS-LCD color display
  • Size: 43.5 x 43.5 x 15.0 mm
  • Weight: 45g
  • Supported SSD type: M Key M.2 (NVMe/PCIe), B&M Key M.2 (NVMe/PCIe), so support for M.2 SATA
  • Supported SSD capacity: Up to 2TB
  • Supported SSD length: 2230
  • Interface: USB 3.2 Gen 2 (10Gbps), Type C
  • Accessories: 30cm braided USB-C cable

Before I go any further, I feel the need to say that this project is currently at the crowdfunding stage, and it's important for backers to be aware that there are risks and the potential for delays and other issues.

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For my part in carrying out due diligence, I only cover crowdfunding projects run by companies that are established (Dockcase has been designing and manufacturing Type-C products for the past six years), has a track record of delivering products (this is the company's ninth crowdfunding project), and can get me a sample for testing.

Now, let's get on with talking about the device. The Dockcase Pocket is an SSD enclosure, and buyers will have to supply their own M.2 2230 NVMe/PCIe (Dockcase has a drive compatibility list -- Western Digital PC SN530, Western Digital PC SN740, Kioxia BG4, Hynix BC711, and the Samsung PM991a). My SSD enclosure was supplied with a Hynix BC711 M.2 SSD. 

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OK, so first impressions -- this thing is small and light, almost like a flash drive. It's just two-thirds the size of my AirPods Pro case, which is quite incredible.

If I didn't have a bunch of stuff dangling off my keychain, I could carry this around on my keychain -- it's that small.

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It's so small, in fact, that it's hard to believe that this is a fully functioning external SSD.

Inside the Dockcase Pocket M.2 NVMe Smart SSD Enclosure

Inside the Dockcase Pocket M.2 NVMe Smart SSD Enclosure.

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

There's one screw holding the lid on the bottom for access to the SSD. 

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There's also a graphite thermal pad on the lid that helps dissipate the heat (and it does an amazing job).

The screen on the enclosure shows a lot of useful information, including drive brand and capacity, read/write speeds, temperature, drive health, and much, much more.

The information is so useful that I'm surprised I've not seen this level of detail on an external storage drive before.

The tiny screen displays a lot of cool information.

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

The screen is also nice and bright, and everything is controlled by a single button. This might seem simple, but it does mean having to remember what different combinations of long and short presses do. In short, the downside of simplicity is that things can get complicated.

External SSDs can get hot in use, but this enclosure does a really good job of dissipating the heat. I pushed it hard with over an hour of heavy reads and writes using Blackmagic's Disk Speed Test app, and while the enclosure got pretty warm during heavy use, it never got too hot to touch or posed a danger.

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As for speeds, I was getting around 845 MB/s write speeds, and 895 MB/s read speeds on an M1 MacBook Pro.

Dockcase Pocket M.2 NVMe Smart SSD Enclosure speed test

Dockcase Pocket M.2 NVMe Smart SSD Enclosure speed test.

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

To see how effective the cooling was, I ran the Pocket with the rear case open, and the temperatures shot up from about 40°C to 60°C, but returned back to normal in seconds after putting the lid back on. same for this line: 

Thermal camera view, case on

Thermal camera view, case on.

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET
Thermal camera view, case off

Thermal camera view, case off.

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

Built into the enclosure is a feature called PLP, or Power Loss Protection. While in use, the drive charges up a capacitor -- an electrical component that acts like a battery -- which allows the SSD enclosure to have up to three seconds of runtime in the event of power loss, helping to prevent data loss. 

That's a nice touch.

Disconnecting and reconnecting the Dockcase Pocket M.2 NVMe Smart SSD Enclosure to show power loss protection in action.

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

As for downsides, it's important to note that the drive enclosure is not water resistant. Also, while the tempered glass over the top of the LCD display is tough, there always the potential for damage.

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But, more generally, it's hard to fault this product.

The Pocket is one of those surprise products that I didn't expect to find all that interesting, but actually ended up being blown away by. For $69, the Dockcase Pocket M.2 NVMe Smart SSD Enclosure is a nice enclosure that's small, lightweight, highly portable, and cool in use. Also, it's built-in display is far from being a gimmick, and I was left wondering why other drives don't include this feature. 

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