Until now I used a microSD card for storage of my Owncloud setup. The drawback of doing so is that microSD cards only allow for so many writes until they die and go in a read-only mode.
Therefore the Nextcloud box is an attractive upgrade allowing to use a more failure proof HDD while still keeping everything inside the same housing.
The first thing to note is that the housing is much larger than one might think from the photos. See the comparison photo with the Odroid housing. Actually this should not be a surprise as the 2.5″ HDD alone is larger than the Odroid board.
The Odroid U3 has to mounted upside-down to be able to attach a network cable. First I though that this is a limitation because the housing was not designed with the U3 in mind – however all officially supported boards have the RJ45 jack and the USB ports at the same side, which makes attaching a network cable even harder.
Furthermore the opening at the top left of the housing seems to be designed for a RJ45 jack, but none of the supported boards has the jack at that place. This leaves me wondering which board the housing was originally designed for.
Yet the major weakness of the box is its openness (pun intended); the noise of the HDD is not silenced in any way and therefore quite noticeable if you stand nearby. Due to this I would not recommend to place the box in your bedroom.
Inside the Box
To fit inside the box, the top of the plastic pins holding the Odroid cooler have to be clipped off. This does not impact their functionality though.
The USB ports of the U3 are located at the side which only allows it to fit inside the box if using exactly one of the horizontal ports. However the supplied USB3 cable requires using a second USB port or the USB charger for power delivery.
This choice is quite unfortunate as the drive works just fine in USB2 mode when powered only over one USB port and no officially supported board actually has an USB3 port. Luckily I had a spare 15cm USB2 cable around which did the job.
The performance of the HDD is good considering the price. In most cases it will be limited by the USB2.0 transfer rate anyway.
Summing up I am quite satisfied with the package, however the compatibility could be easily extended if the supplied cable would deliver power when connected over a single USB port. Furthermore the openings of the housing should fit to at least one of the officially supported boards.