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Newer Technology Announces miniStack MAX As Industry’s First Four-in-One Storage, Access, And Connectivity Solution

Thursday, February 14th, 2013 | Author:

Newer Technology, Inc. today announced the miniStack MAX, the only four-in-one external drive, optical drive, SD card reader and USB powered hub solution on the market. This new version of the time-proven, award-winning miniStack design supports multiple interfaces for Plug and Play storage of entire music, photo and video libraries, as well as burning backups via the internal optical drive, with new and legacy Macs or PCs.

Sized for the Mac mini, Ideal for Any Computer
Elegantly designed with an aluminum finish body and glossy black top, the miniStack MAX matches the size of the Mac mini for a stackable, seamless look. The miniStack MAX also provides Plug and Play ease of use with any Mac or PC that has an available USB 3.0, USB 2.0, FireWire 800, FireWire 400, or eSATA port. With its “quad-interface” versatility and ultra-compact form factor, the miniStack MAX delivers cross-platform portability, enabling users to move easily among multiple Macintosh computers and laptops and virtually any Windows-based computer with a USB, FireWire, or eSATA port.

Professional-Level Storage Made Plug-and-Play Simple
Fully bootable with storage capacity choices up to 4TB, the miniStack MAX 7200RPM hard drive can easily handle the demands of extended storage or backup and data-intensive applications such as professional audio and video editing, digital photography, MP3 music libraries, and high-speed backup. With multiple interfaces, users can choose the data connection that’s compatible with their computer and workflow needs.

Restores Optical Drive Capabilities
The miniStack MAX provides modern optical drive capabilities for all users, and more so with systems that no longer even include an optical drive. The miniStack MAX returns the convenience of installing software from a CD, DVD or Blu-ray, loading music into iTunes, accessing archived photos, or watching DVD or even Blu-ray movies on their computer without extra cords, clutter, or cost. Two optical drive options are available: a Blu-ray read and DVD/CD read/write or Blu-ray read/write and DVD/CD read/write.

Reads SD Memory Cards in a Flash
The integrated SD (SDXC) card reader on the front of miniStack Max makes transferring photos and video super-simple—no more fumbling around the back of the Mac mini to access the SD slot. It also helps keep the desktop clean by eliminating the need for an external card reader and yet another cable.

Connects and Charges Digital Devices
Three powered USB3.0/2.0 ports on the back make the miniStack Max a convenient digital hub for connecting external devices like iPhones, mice or keyboards. One of the USB ports offers high-powered 2.1Amp output for charging an iPad or other devices that require more power than provided by standard USB connections.

Compact and Convenient
Whether used to provide massive capacity in a space-saving design or to give a notebook more functionality, miniStack MAX can stack upon itself to create a “tower of power”, yet is lightweight and compact so it can be used to power desktop accessories and provide data backup while on-the-go. It even features a Smart Power switch that when in the on position, enables the miniStack MAX to power up and down in tandem with the attached computer.

Features

  • Storage options from 0GB enclosure kits up to 4TB Plug and Play solutions
  • DVD/CD read/write and Blu-ray read or Blu-ray read/write optical drive
  • USB hub with three USB 3.0/2.0 ports, one with 2.1Amp power for charging devices like the iPad
  • Two FireWire 800 ports (backward compatible with FireWire 400) and one eSATA port
  • Front panel easy access SD card reader (SDXC)
  • MagLev fan (same as used in the Mac mini) offers frictionless, whisper-quiet operation
  • Integrated Kensington Security Slot for theft prevention
  • Smart Power switch – in switched on position, unit powers up and down in tandem with computer
  • High-quality, double-shielded FireWire 800 and USB 3.0/2.0 connection cables included
  • Identical footprint to 2010 and later Mac mini (measures 2.3 (H) x 7.7 (W) x 7.7 (D) inches)
  • Durable aluminum finish complements Mac models as well as aluminum finished PCs

The original miniStack was introduced eight years ago and it instantly became an industry best-selling product because of its stackable design and useful feature set,” said Larry O’Connor, President, Newer Technology Inc. “We introduced the new MAX concept at CES last year to great interest and have since worked diligently to perfect its design and functionality. We want to thank customers that have waited patiently for its release and are we are confident miniStack MAX will exceed all their expectations.”

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    1. Michael Sullivan says:

      Just installed the minStack MAX under my Mac Mini Server and after copying a few cds to iTunes one caused iTunes to crash and upon relaunch the CDROM drive is no longer visible. I ejected the hard drive and shut the miniStack MAX down. Restarting the miniStack MAX back up, I can “see” the drive in the finder, but it won’t eject the disk (right click on the CD ROM and select eject) that is still stuck inside. Not a happy camper as this is a server and I don’t want to have to reboot the server. Is there a mechanical way to force an eject ? Please advise.

      Michael

      • OWC Eddie says:

        Here how to attempt a force eject in terminal: drutil tray eject

        • Michael Sullivan says:

          Never got around to try that (assumed it wouldn’t work anyway).

          OWC customer service said I had to return the unit, so I did. Presumably I will get my stuck CD back.

          My recommendation to OWC: allow a mechanical way of ejecting stuck disks (like the old Macs)

          M

        • Richard says:

          I have a stuck cd in my ministack max also. I’ve tried the command in terminal but didn’t work, is there a mechanical way of ejecting the cd, or do I have to take it to bits?

          • OWC Ben M says:

            We are sorry to hear about the issues. Please contact our tech support team for guidance on this issue. Depending on which model MiniStack Max you purchased disassembling the unit may void its warranty.

            • Michael Sullivan says:

              IMHO, the optical drive in the MAX is “finicky” — I just got my unit back from support (I paid for shipping down they paid for shipping back) and while it certainly “works” for most of my disks, on about 10% of the CD’s I attempt to insert I have had to fiddle with the disk getting the angle just right for it to go in. It simply is not at the same calibre as the stock Apple CD unit. And as you have observed, hitting the eject key does nothing even when the disk is working properly! The overall design and features of the unit is an “A”. But the quality of the optical drive leaves quite a bit to be desired. I also think these should be serviceable by endusers without voiding the warranty. As such, I would have to rate the unit merely a “B-”.

              YMMV.

            • Richard says:

              I’ve got it working! Tracked it down to a bad USB connection. Unit will load a CD, but not eject it without a USB connection.

    2. Joe says:

      A month after I ordered it, my Mini stack with blu ray reader arrived yesterday. The drives is fast. The unit is a little noisier than my Mac Mini 2012 but not too bad.

      Now the bad news. The optical drive would not work, unfortunately.

      After a half hour on the phone with support, we figured out that the screws used to attach the optical drive inside the unit prevent loading optical media.

      They are sending me new screws to replace the wrong ones inside or I can RMA the unit. Apparently this is a known issue with a small recent batch of mini stacks so if you have the problem, just give them a call.

      I thought I would save folks time by posting this. I believe shipping units do not have the problem.

      • OWC Michael says:

        Joe, you’re absolutely correct. A few of the units were supplied with out of spec screws. And while we found and corrected the issue pretty quickly, a very small amount of bare units went out the door before the issue was caught in our builds. No pre-built solutions are affected.

        Let me clarify a bit further. There are slight variations in mechanism placement inside different optical drive mechanisms. On some mechanisms, the use of the out of spec screw (just slightly too long) may cause a bit of “pinching” on the ejection lever inside the optical drive which stops disks from being inserted fully or ejected. For those mechanisms that were “pinched”, we’ve yet to see any damage to the optical drive mechanism itself – loosening the screw simply stops the “pinch” and allows the drive to function just fine again. The variance in length doesn’t seem to be enough to cause damage, just annoyance.

        So, out of the very few that went out the door, only small fraction of those would be using an optical drive that would be affected at all.

        If any of our readers did pre-order a 0GB kit and are experiencing any issues with inserting or ejecting disks in their new miniStack MAX, please contact us at 1(800)275-4576 or via email or live chat and we’ll make available the correct screw replacements.

        • Joe says:

          Thanks Michael.

          Unfortunately, I did end up RMA’ing the drive for a replacement. Once we addressed the screw issue, disks would insert but not eject.

          Taking apart the unit while on the line with tech support, we realized there was a piece of fabric over the drive slot that allowed entry but not exit of inserted disks. The fabric is there for builds with no optical drives and was left in my unit by accident. It lifted up to allow disks in but then ejecting disks would bounce off of it on the way out and stay in the unit.

          When that impediment was removed, the blu ray drive ultimately was revealed to be defective. Disks would insert and eject however they made loudish noises when spinning in the drive. And blu rays that played fine on my external OWC blu ray drive, would pause like clockwork every 40 seconds or so when watching them on my Mac Mini using the MacGo Blu Ray Player.

          I own literally dozens of OWC products that have all worked well. I am willing to see this Ministack as a one-off incident and I have faith the next once OWC sends me will work well.

          I am pleased to say OWC Tech Support sees things the same way. They are cross shipping me a completely new Ministack at no charge which we all hope will work better.

    3. Joe says:

      With a Mac Mini, can the Mini stack be placed above or below the Mac Mini? Product photos show Ministack placed above or below the Mini. Is either placement better for longevity of ministack or Mac Mini. Thanks.

    4. Charles says:

      What about noise and Bluetooth interference, like reported with the miniStack? Are there similar issues with the MAX stacked on a Mac mini?

      • OWC Michael says:

        ALL USB 3.0 devices emit noise that happens to be in the same frequency range as Bluetooth wireless devices. Proximity, intensity, and direction all come into play as whether that noise is going to cause interference.

        • Andy says:

          I just was chatting with Support on this yesterday as it is crucial in my decision to buy the Ministack Max or not. Knowing that this is a general USB 3 problem, and knowing the problems clients had with the regular Ministack since last year, has the Ministack Max incorporated any additional shielding as it is brand new and released after these problems were well known? I know there are likely no absolutes, but if OWC has made any changes between the Ministack last year and the Ministack Max this year it would be important to know. Also, does it make a difference if the MacMini is stacked below or above the external drive? To the right or the left (facing the MacMini) if stacking either way is not an option?

          • Rob says:

            Please answer the questions, OWC Michael. We want honest answers before we’ll buy.

          • OWC Michael says:

            No, there are no shielding differences nor any specific configuration setup that eliminates all USB 3.0 & Bluetooth signal noise.

            • Andy says:

              Thanks for the clear answer. I found out that one of my existing disks (not connected to my Mini) is USB 3.0 and hooked it up to my Mini to test, putting the mini on top of the external disk. For the first hour, I thought I was home free, After that, constant disconnects, re-connects of my Apple Bluetooth keyboard, but strangely not the mouse, although it may have been reacting slightly slower than normal. I moved the disk to the side of the Mini and have not had the problem anymore.

              If this was a desktop solution, I wouldn’t care and would leave the disk next to the Mini. It is however, as per the whole design of the Ministack Max, a solution for my HTPC to stack above or below the Mini in the my living room, where the whole stacking effect makes all the difference in the world, including the spousal acceptance factor. In any case, this was a bit of a crushing revelation as I have been waiting 13 months for the Ministack Max and will now have to abandon the entire vision and actually not buy one.

              While I realize that this is a general USB 3.0 problem, with an additional layer which is Apple’s with the design of the Mini, it is also a lost opportunity for OWC. It is too bad that you were unable to use the year’s experience with the new Ministack and the comments of those clients to improve upon the design for the Ministack Max to mitigate this problem.

    5. Ming says:

      I received my stack yesterday and had a few comments and a question:

      • I always pictured a Mac Mini as being small, but the stack is bigger than I expected … not a complaint, just an observation
      • I connected the stack via eSATA going through the LaCie eSATA Thunderbolt Hub to my iMac and the hard drive worked nicely however the iMac would not recognize the BluRay drive until I connected it with the USB cable … it would be nice if it had said that somewhere
      • burning a 25GB BluRay disk was pretty quick … I did not time it but it felt about the same time as burning a Dual Layer DVD on a regular drive
      • burning the BluRay disk was louder than I expected
      • VLC was able to play The Dark Knight BluRay nicely, albeit without menus … it went straight to the movie
      • MakeMKV was able to, umm, let me view the movie as a local .mkv file

      And my question …. what kind of USB cable does it need ? USB 3.0 is far stranger than USB 2.0 … I have now encountered two different kinds of USB connectors … a flat one with a pinch near the middle, and the tall one that the stack uses. As I said I am using this with my iMac and the puny little USB cable that comes with the stack is killing me.

      • OWC Michael says:

        If connecting via USB 3.0, use a USB 3.0 cable. Same would apply for a USB 2.0 connection. USB 3.0 is backwards compatible with USB 2.0/1.1.

      • Rod M says:

        Just to follow on to Ming’s comments.
        I bought the stack to give me a CD/DVD drive to go with my new iMac which is on order. Thought I would hook it up to my existing iMac to make sure everything was working.
        As noted, the drive was bigger than I expected, but no complaints. Guess I had never really looked at the size of the mini.
        Hooked it up using an existing FW800 cable. HD showed up fine. Was able to read and write to the hard disk. Popped in a DVD, unit whirred a bit and then stopped. Spent 15 minutes trying to eject the disk. No luck. Thought I would hook up with the USB 3 cable (comment on this later). DVD player pops up, disk plays, stop and eject disk. Put in a audio CD, no issues there. Try FW800 again, same problem. Then I read Ming’s comment about having to use USB 3 connection to use the CD/DVD drive and agree there should be something in the tech specs on line and also something in the manual.
        So if I have to use the USB 3 connection, please put at least a 36 inch USB cable with the unit. I know that people with a Mac Mini will probably prefer the shorter cable, but those using in other situations will need to buy a longer cable.
        Other than these comments, a nice quiet unit.

    6. Philippe Rouquet says:

      How about the same miniStack +Max with built-in e-sata 6G and Thunderbolt ports??????
      I have been waiting (like others) for months for a viable TB and esata 6G port solution from OWC and still nothing in sight.
      What are the technological challenges for not being able to market their faster external drives? (or is it a cost challenge?)

    7. dhw says:

      Is the case metal or plastic?

    8. Rob says:

      Would someone please explain why people want Thunderbolt in the miniStack MAX and why it doesn’t come with TB?

    9. Rod M says:

      Also disappointed with the lack of Thunderbolt, but good solution for my new iMac. One question, what software solutions are recommended to allow iMac to play BD movies/and write to BD.

    10. Byron S says:

      Could I connect another regular miniStack via USB 3.0 into this one, and then connect this one into the computer? In other words, can I daisy chain? I want to have one of them act as extra storage, and the other act as a Time Capsule.

      • OWC Michael says:

        Yes, that would be the primary purpose of the integrated USB 3.0 hub.

        • Byron S says:

          Perfect, and thanks! I just wanted to verify. I’ve had some things that have hubs on them that say they won’t support certain devices being hooked up. All the wording here seemed to suggest that it’d be fine, but I just wanted to be sure before buying.

    11. Ming says:

      Two questions:

      • what kind of BluRay disks can it write (25GB/50GB/100GB/150GB)
      • if I want to connect with eSATA can I still use it as a USB hub

      • OWC Michael says:

        What kind of BluRay disks can it write (25GB/50GB/100GB/150GB)?
        - Depends on the mechanism installed. For instance our “with Blu-ray Reader/Writer + DVD/CD Reader/Writer” models use a Panasonic UJ265 Internal Slim Blu-ray/DVD/CD Writer which can accommodate up to Dual-Layer Blu-Ray media (50GB).
        If I want to connect with eSATA can I still use it as a USB hub?
        - To use the USB hub, the USB uplink does need to be attached to the computer regardless of which interface the drives are connected with.

    12. gavin says:

      I got quite excited then ..but no thunderbolt :-(

    13. The Commodore says:

      2 years later and you guys are still getting hammered over your lack of TB options. Whose going to be the first genius to give us a straight TB to USB3 converter for under $100?

    14. John D says:

      Consider selling an HDD-less version with the Blu-ray burner installed.

    15. frank d says:

      Figures it finally comes out … after I bought the external blu-ray drive, since this was pending for so long.

    16. Adam says:

      Is this sturdy enough to place a 24″ Apple monitor on top of?

      • OWC Michael says:

        Adam, thanks for the inquiry; we hadn’t considered it as a monitor stand, per se. As such, we haven’t completed any weight or stability testing with an Apple Cinema Display or iMac. We’ll report back here once we have.

    17. Abram says:

      Thunderbolt? I would buy it immediately if it had a Thunderbolt daisy chain. And the QX2 (USB3?). And the Elite Pro Dual Drive(USB3?). And all my Thunderbolt cables through OWC. I know licensing and technology take a long time, but what is behind the wait?

    18. Lowell says:

      If this were connectable via Thunderbolt, it would be an excellent desktop companion for my Air!

    19. PetieG says:

      How is it connected to the mini? via USB or firewire? No thunderbolt?

    20. Mark Charnley says:

      Every time OWC introduces a new enclosure or case that has USB 3.0 but does not have Thunderbolt I get depressed! What ever happened to OWC and Thunderbolt drives, cases and enclosures??????

    21. John G says:

      Nice! What kind of chipset does it have? Oxford? Can it be used for multi-track audio recording? What drive do you recommend installing in order for the best audio recording and playback performance? Thanks.

      • OWC Michael says:

        JMicron 355 chipset with eSATA & FireWire 800 (1394B)
        JMicron 539 chipset with USB 3.0/USB 2.0
        Benchmarks on the solutions are forthcoming which will determine the best drive/interface options for performance.

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