Dealing with ISO files is not always the most pleasant of experiences, especially if one's operating system is obsolete enough to not feature built-in support for the popular optical disk archiving format. Fortunately for consumers who are still running on outdated operating systems, it appears that there is an easier way to deal with such archives without having to download specialized software, thanks to Hanwa's new external hard disk enclosure. Is that our optical discs weeping about their impending obsolesence?

Windows 7 may have solved this problem for good, but many who have yet to take the plunge and upgrade to Microsoft's current operating system should find this problem eerily familiar to them. Picture this situation: you have just downloaded a trial version of your favorite software and are all ready to install it, only to find out that the application in packaged in an ISO file instead of a standard .exe.

At this point, it probably goes without saying that attempting to deal with ISO files on an operating system that precedes Windows 7 typically involves approximately 10 minutes of crying. After all, Windows was notorious for not providing built-in support for ISO files, and unpacking such files for use on Windows usually requires the download and installation of a compatible disk image emulator. And if that sounds like a whole lot of unnecessary trouble just to get some work done, Hanwa's new external HDD enclosure would probably be the kind of device users should consider investing in.

The new Hanwha UMA-ISO2 may seem like a typical external HDD enclosure designed for use with 2.5-inch hard disks, but that is where the similarity ends. According to UMAZone, the UMA-ISO2  is capable of transforming itself into a virtual optical disk drive on the fly, thanks to its built-in support for ISO files. Gone are the days of installing disk image emulators; instead, users only have to copy the ISO to the UMA-ISO2's hard disk and browse to it with the dial located on the enclosure. Doing so causes the UMA-ISO2's firmware to switch between various hardware identifiers, thus automatically mouting the ISO and displaying its contents for users to play around with.

In addition, users can rest assured that the UMA-ISO2 will fit in seemlessly into their Windows ecosystem. This is due to the fact that the UMA-ISO2 features native support for the NTFS filesystem used by all versions of Windows starting from Windows XP. That being said, Windows XP and Vista users will have to ensure that their copy of Windows is kept up to date, as these versions of Windows require that their relevant Service Packs be installed before the UMA-ISO2 can be used on them, as shown in the minimum requirements below:

Unfortunately, this brings us to one little problem: the UMA-ISO2 is a Japan-only product, which means that chances of seeing it hit our shores is probably lower than than that of striking the lottery. But if you happen to have a few Japanese friends on your MSN or Twitter account at your disposal, you might want to know that the UMA-ISO2 currently has a 9980 yen (approx US$122) price tag attached to it. And if that sounds a tad too expensive for a HDD enclosure…well, there's always Daemon Tools and the good ol' DVD burner to fall back on. After all, DVD-Rs can't be too expensive, right?

Source: UMAZone Japan