Geek News: Latest Technology, Product Reviews, Gadgets and Tech Podcast News for Geeks


Rocstor AES 256-bit Enctypted Hard Drive

Posted by Alan at 11:59 AM on February 26, 2012

Rocstor has unveiled a new portable external hard drive that practically guarantees that your data won’t be stolen.  The hard drive, which comes in capacities up to 1 TB, has a slot for a smart card.  Enter the card, punch in your code (which you choose), and you unlock the drive and all of the data you have stored on it.  The drives are FIP certified and ship with multiple cards.  For users that need additional cards, they can be purchased blank and inserted into a unit to be programmed to work with it.  PIN Numbers can be changed an unlimited number of times as well.

These hard drives are probably not for average consumers, but more for business and government.  They are designed to protect highly-sensitive data and eliminate those stories that are always in the news these days about stolen laptops filled with account and credit card information.  The drives retail in the $400-600 range and are available now from Rocstor.

Interview by Todd Cochrane of Geek News Central for the TechPodcast Network.

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Kingston HyperX SSD

Posted by Alan at 11:22 PM on January 22, 2012

Kingston is known for their memory, but now they are branching out into the world of hard drives and, more specifically, solid state hard drives, or SSD’s as they are commonly referred to.   The HyperX is the top of the Kingston line when it comes to this technology.  The SSD is a much-hyped technology that has remained a dream for most consumers because of their price-point, but they are starting to come down into the realm of the affordable, although still top-end, drives. The SSD provides much faster speed than the traditional HDD, plus they are much smaller in size, which is driving the new Ultrabook craze, which was also capturing  the media at this year’s CES.

The new HyperX comes with an external drive bay that you can plug into your computer and software to clone you current drive to get you started without any down time.  The new Kingston drive may still be out of reach for the average user, but that’s okay, because they know it’s for the enthusiast, who knows how to get inside a PC and change out hardware, clone drives, and use all of the hardware and tools that come along with a project such as this.

Currently for the 120 GB version seen in the video below the price is coming in at a little over $200.  To find out more be sure to check out the video and visit Kingston.

Interview by Todd Cochrane of Geek News Central for the TechPodcast Network.

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Verbatim SSD Drives

Posted by KL Tech Muse at 6:22 PM on January 9, 2012

Verbatim One of the categories that you will see a lot of at CES 2012 are Solid State Drives (SSD). With the price of regular hard drives going up due to the flooding in Thailand. (Although the price of standard hard drives seem to be going back down at this time.)  As SSD drives becoming more reasonably priced they increase in popularity among consumers. Verbatim a leader in the data storage business since 1969 will be introducing some new SSDs at CES 2012. They will be introducing both new SATA II and SATA III drives. They will be bundled with NTI Echo smart cloning software which will allow an individual to copy their entire hard drive including operating system without having to reinstall drivers. It is simple to use and secure helping to eliminating the lost of data. There will also be a casing included that will allow you to convert your current internal drive into an external drive for extra storage. Also available will be a 3.5 bay adapter which will allow a desktop computer to be updated also.

What makes the Verbatim SSD drives special is the fact they have no moving parts are shock resistance and run silently.  The SATA II SSD comes in 64GB, 128GB and 256GB. They have read speeds up to 270MB per second and write speeds up to 225MB per second. SATA III drives can reach both read and write speeds up to 500MB per second. SATA III drives use Sandforce 2281 controller. Garbage collection algorithms which help to maintain stability and reliability. There is also have advance wear leveling. The SATA III drives come in 120 GB, 240GB and 480GB capabilities. These drives will work with Window 7, Window XP, Mac OX 10.4 and greater and Linux 2.4.0 and higher. Verbatim will be showing off these drives and other products at Booth MP25374 in the South Hall at CES 2012.

OWC Mercury SSD Drives

Posted by KL Tech Muse at 11:27 AM on January 7, 2012

OWC Mercury DriveOther World Computing (OWC) will be introducing their newest Solid State Drive (SSD) line called Mercury Extreme. It is 3G with a combination of Sandforce Dura Class technology and Tier 1/Grade A NAND. Tier 1 (Grade A) is the top of line chips and are laser etched with a serial number. This combination produces data rates over 275MB. It is reliable and relatively noiseless. It has near bus saturation speed. Unlike regular SSD where the write speed tends to slow down after regular and constant use, OWC Mercury Extreme SSD drives do not. They use Block Management and Wear technology instead of the traditional OS Trim Management to help prevent that slow down. MacPerformance confirmed that Mercury SSD removes almost all slow down in data speed over time. The Sandforce Dura Class Technology also offers 100x the data protectin compared to ordinary SSD. They do this by the combination of 7 percent over provisioning, the highest level or error correction and Sandforce Raise (Redundant Array of Independent Silicon Elements).

You can get a 30 GB drive starting at $67.99 MSRP. It is available through OWC and selected retailers. There is a 30 day risk free guarantee and 24/7 live chat support. The drives are compatibility with any desktop or external drive that uses 2.5” drives. You can also get adapters for as low as $3.00, which allow 2.5” drives to be placed in 3.5” bays. OWC Mercury SSD are available with a capacities from 30GB up to 480GB starting at $67.99. OWC will be showing off these hard drives and more at CES in the North hall at Booth 5231.

Monster Digital Will Be Showing off its LeMann SSD Drive at CES 2012

Posted by KL Tech Muse at 6:00 PM on January 6, 2012

Monster Digital Back in November Monster Cable license their brand name to SDJ Technologies a Simi Valley based technology business creating the company Monster Digital. At CES 2012 Monster Digital will be showing off several of their new products, including an Ultra Speed SSD, Hybrid Hard Drive, Standard Drives, Micro SD Cards and high performance flash. They will be showing off the Ultra Speed SSD called the LeMann Series. The LeMann Series SSDs are some of the fastest drives on the planet. They support read and write speeds of 550MB/s-515MB/s and are SandForce based. They are  shock proof , waterproof, magnetic proof and super durable. Monster Digital has also been working with Seagate Technology to create a Hybrid Hard Drives (HDD). These drives increase a computer’s speed and performance with a simple upgrade. Monster Digital will also be showing off their SD, Micro SD cards and high performance Compact Flash.

Monster Digital will be showing off its products at Booth 13013 in the Central Hall. Monster Digital is committed to provide unparalleled user experience. Each of its product categories offers best in class performance. They are rigorously tested to meet the highest standards of durability and performance. Jay Tandon, former CEO of SDJ Technologies and now the CEO of Monster Digital® will be present at CES 2012 and will be available for interviews, upon request.

Buffalo DriveStation Velocity Review

Posted by Andrew at 2:12 PM on November 13, 2011

Buffalo LogoThe Buffalo DriveStation Velocity is a 2 TB USB 3 external drive, and given the size and the interface, it’s aimed at people who want lots of data and want it quickly. Let’s get the external features of the device out of the way and then check how quick it is.

In the box, there’s only the drive, the power supply, USB 3 cable and the usual paper flimsies for getting started and warranty. There is no driver CD as the files are all on the disk, but more on this later. The drive housing itself is black plastic, with a matte finish on the larger sides and glossy piano black on the thinner side, with a disk activity light that glows blue when on USB3 and green on USB2. The unit can either stand upright or be laid on its side and stacked: I couldn’t decide what orientation I preferred but it seemed to spend most of its time lying down.

Buffalo DriveStation Velocity

Round the back it’s fairly sparse with a USB3 connector, power socket and Kensington lock socket. Observant readers will also spot that there’s no fan so the Velocity runs quietly with only the hum of the hard drive itself, possibly making this a good choice for the living room.  Even while the disk was being thrashed during the read and write tests, the case never got more than lukewarm.

Buffalo DriveStation Velocity Rear

Time for the speed tests. Connected up to USB 3, the Velocity recorded the following data rates:
hdparm gave 133 MB/s for buffered disk reads.
dd gave write speeds around 92 MB/s.
- bonnie++ gave 75 MB/s for writes and 137 MB/s for reads.

Under USB 2, the figures were obviously slower but still fine for a USB 2 device.
- hdparm gave 32 MB/s for buffered disk reads.
- dd gave write speeds around 37 MB/s.
- bonnie++ gave 33 MB/s for writes and 38 MB/s for reads.

Wow! The read speed of 137 MB/s makes the DriveStation Velocity the fastest single USB3 unit that Geek News Central has tested, which is pretty impressive.

As mentioned earlier, the driver and utility software comes installed on the disk rather than on a CD. Generally, this is great and cuts down on CD-waste, but it would be wise to take a copy of the software in case the disk needs to be re-formatted…

…which brings us to the included utility for whole disk encryption. It’s very handy for keeping your data from falling into the wrong hands in the event of theft or other loss, but the utility completely erases the disk as part of the encryption process! So it seems to me that there’s a bit of a problem here for a drive that includes encryption as a feature but then deletes the utility off the disk as step number one. There either needs to be a CD in the box or else the encryption utility needs to make a backup copy of the software locally.

Other than this small issue, I liked the Velocity. I had no trouble getting it to work, the styling was satisfactory and it performed well. In summary, if you need a quiet drive with lots of space and great transfer rates, then put the DriveStation Velocity on your shortlist. Just remember to copy the drivers and utilities off the disk before enabling encryption.

Thanks to Buffalo for the loan of the DriveStation Velocity.

Thailand Flooding and the Price of Hard Drives

Posted by KL Tech Muse at 7:26 AM on November 10, 2011

If you are thinking about getting a hard drive you may want to wait. Thailand has been hit by terrible flooding during the yearly monsoon season. Up to 500 have died and whole areas have been devastated including areas where the majority of the world’s hard drives are manufactured. Companies including Western Digital and Toshiba have been hit hard. As reported by the NY Times Bang Pa-In, Thailand which produces one-quarter of the worlds sliders a vital hard drive component is almost completely under water. Piper Jaffray believe that the supply of hard drives may run dry by the end of November. Prices may rise anywhere from 10 to 60 percent. There maybe a shortage of up to 60-80 million hard drives in the fourth quarter of 2011 and the shortage may only get worse. Full recovery of the market isn’t expected until late 2012.

Just in time for the next monsoon season. Climate change may only increase the flooding next year unless Thailand figures a way to control it. Unfortunately the very rice fields that helped to control the flooding in the past have been replaced by the factories that manufacture the hard drives. Companies may think of moving some of the processes outside of Thailand but that will take years and a lot of money. Companies may decide that the cost of moving is greater than the cost of dealing with flooding and choose to stay.

The hard drive shortage is already being felt by small businesses who sells or purchases hard drives. They are having trouble getting the hard drives they need and their prices are going up. The longer the problem continues the more the problem will spread to anything with a hard drive in it. Which includes desktops, laptops, gaming systems, and more. Not all hard drive companies were hit equally Seagate whose plants are in the highlands of Thailand was not effected by the monsoon directly, however it says it will have difficulty getting some parts. SSD drives are not effected either. Gus Richard an analyst at Piper Jaffray believes that there was an over reaction to the economic impact of the Japanese disaster and an under reaction to the Thailand disaster. This is at the time when large data centers are being built, data centers which require more and more hard drives. So the shortage and higher prices will most likely continue until late 2012.

Buffalo Gets Extreme

Posted by Andrew at 8:43 AM on October 19, 2011

Buffalo Technology has announced the launch of the MiniStation Extreme, a ruggedised USB3 portable hard drive. Conforming to the US Military’s MIL-STD-810F 516.5 Procedure IV, the shock protection on this drive means that it will survive a fall from over 2 m or 6 ft.

Buffalo MiniStation Extreme Portable Hard Drive 

And if securing your data against physical damage isn’t enough, the MiniStation Extreme also comes with 256-bit AES whole/full disk encryption to prevent unauthorised access to your data. There’s an integrated USB3 cable which snaps in and out of the Extreme, keeping it all neat and tidy.

Paul Hudson, Sales Director for Northern Europe at Buffalo Technology said, “The MiniStation Extreme is a prime example of Buffalo’s commitment to product innovation. This latest addition to the MiniStation family is ideal for globetrotters who travel with their PCs and portable HDDs and demand a robust, fast and secure high performance portable storage device. The MiniStation Extreme can withstand free-fall drops of up to 2.3m making it the most robust MiniStation ever.”

The MiniStation Extreme is available in 500 GB and 1 TB sizes at £78 and £113 respectively, and comes in piano black, silver and red. No white yet for the iPhiles.

TDK Looking to Double Hard Drive Capacity

Posted by Alan at 2:00 PM on October 10, 2011

Storage, both HDD and SSD, is growing in capacity and shrinking in price all of the time.  With hard drives currently as large as 2 TB available, and promises of even bigger ones coming it seems there is almost more storage already than anyone of needs.  Plus, for those willing to pay a premium, there are SSD’s, which are smaller in capacity, but much faster in read time.  Plus, we have even heard vague rumors of holographic storage coming in the future.

Now, from the future technologies department comes some news that TDK, the once famous cassette tape maker, has a technology that could double the storage capacity of a hard drive by using laser heaters to write the data.  TDK calls the technology HAMR – heat-assisted magnetic recording.  The laser needs to be combined with a new way of making the drive platters.  Supposedly TDK has used the technology with platters that would normally have held 1 TB of data and successfully stored 2 TB on them.

It sounds very futuristic, and honestly it is.  There is no release date for the technology, no idea of how such drives would be priced in comparison to a standard drive, and no real idea if this technology will ever even hit the market.  Frankly, beyond this one report from the Register, there is really no concrete evidence of this technology existing.  But the science of storage is always moving ahead at a fast pace, so it’s likely that such things as this are at least being tested.

Freecom Mobile Drive Mg Review

Posted by Andrew at 4:01 PM on May 26, 2011

The Freecom Mobile Drive Mg is no ordinary 2.5″ external drive. It’s a thing of beauty. Intended to complement Apple’s MacBooks, the slimline Mobile Drive has a magnesium body that looks and feels great. The icing on the cake is that it’s USB 3. I’ve seen lots of external drives but this is the one you want.

Even the packaging reflects the target market. Instead of a relatively dull cardboard box, this comes in an acrylic box so that you can see drive before you’ve even purchased it. The model shown here is the slimline 320 GB USB 3 version which is just 1 cm thick. Freecom have used the bevelled-edge trick to make it seem even thinner than it is but it doesn’t detract from the fact that it is thin and Freecom claim that it is the world’s thinnest external drive. In addition to the 320 GB capacity, there are two 720 GB units which are a bit thicker at 1.5 cm – one is USB 3 only, the other is USB 3 and Firewire 800.

Apart from the USB 3 connector and the Freecom logo, the only other external feature is a white LED which indicates power and disk activity. It’s difficult to make out in the picture below as it’s not lit, but it’s pretty much right in the middle. The drive is bus powered so there’s no power supply needed.

The Mobile Drive Mg comes pre-formatted with HFS+, so if you have a Mac, you’re good to go out of the box. If you’re a Windows or Linux user, it can easily be reformatted to another format.

I think we’ve established that it looks good, but does it perform? Connected up to USB 3, the Mobile Drive recorded the following data rates:

- hdparm gave 75 MB/s for buffered disk reads.
- dd gave write speeds around 82 MB/s.
- bonnie++ gave 74 MB/s for writes and 85 MB/s for reads.

Under USB 2, the figures were obviously slower but still healthy for a USB 2 device.

- hdparm gave 30 MB/s for buffered disk reads.
- dd gave write speeds around 37 MB/s.
- bonnie++ gave 35 MB/s for writes and 40 MB/s for reads.

Looking at the data, using USB 3 roughly doubles the performance when compared to USB 2, which is not unexpected. If you are interested in the specs, there’s a datasheet .pdf.

Price-wise, the model here costs 79 euros, with the 750 GB model bumping the price to 119 euros. Adding the Firewire port will cost 10 euros extra.

You know you want one.

Thanks to Freecom for the loan of the Mobile Drive Mg.