Now, unlike many of these units, the drive _appears_ to be a bog standard SATA drive, but when I plug it into a drive-dock, it works, and thinks there's something on there, but can't recognise the partition table.
So, do those little adaptors in the case offset the data or something odd just to make life difficult, does anyone know a way of recovering the data from it? Or shall I just tell them to call it a day, reformat the drive and tell them to buy a less plasticy enclosure?
Further research has revealed this:
A more expedient solution may be to install the drive in a third party external enclosure. However, this will only work when the data are not affected by AES hardware encryption. One way to verify whether encryption is present is to examine the largest IC on the USB-SATA bridge board. For example, chips such as Initio Corp's INIC-1607E support encryption while the INIC-1607P does not. Also, from a model perspective, Essentials models are encrypted but Elements models are not. Note that the data will be encrypted even when no password has been set.
If the bridge board incorporates encryption, then you will need to find a replacement board from an identical product of the same capacity. If this still doesn't work, and if the drive is otherwise OK, you can overcome any incompatibility by transferring the 8-pin serial flash memory chip from the patient's bridge board to your donor PCB.
So - The unit I have here has a INIC-1607E chip on it, so sounds like it has realtime hardware encryption, to what end, I've no idea as there's no password required, so from a consumer perspective it appears to be totally useless, and in cases such as this, a real problem. Oh well, next time they'll just have to buy a non pre-packaged unit.