Category Archives: storage

An Unplanned Upgrade



Note 5A few weeks ago my trusty Samsung Galaxy Note 4 started acting weird, randomly rebooting at inopportune times. To make a long story short, on the second trip to a Sprint store the technicians determined that it was a hardware problem.

Since Sprint has no more Note 4 units available for replacements, their only alternative was to upgrade me to a Note 5. Ever since the Note 5 was announced, I didn’t want it. The Note 5 has no removable battery, and no Micro SD card slot. My plan was to keep the Note 4 and skip to the generation after the Note 5 that should be released sometime towards the fall of this year.

The free upgrade to the Note 5 does not affect the plan I’m on – I can still upgrade to the new Note (6 or 7, depending on what Samsung decides to call it) when it comes out. I was stuck, so I took the free upgrade.

Even though I was somewhat prejudiced against the Note 5, I have to say I’ve been quite impressed with it. The upgrade in overall performance and the snappy feeling of the device is tremendous. The other thing I’ve been amazed with is excellent battery life, which happens in spite of the improved performance over the Note 4.

The overall size of the Note 5 is physically smaller than its predecessor, yet it retains the 5.7” inch screen size. Samsung was able to achieve this by shrinking the bezels even further, particularly on the sides.

For some time now I’ve been using my phones to scan documents for work. I started doing this with a Galaxy S3. The process was faster with the Note 4. It flies with the Note 5.
My bank recently sent me a new chipped debit card, so I had to go through the process of logging in to various services to update my information. To my surprise, I was able to efficiently do all of this updating via the Note 5, mostly due to its speed and responsiveness.

Are there things a mobile device can’t do? Of course. For one thing, a 5.7” inch screen is too small for many tasks. Could I type out an article or record and upload a podcast on the Note 5? Yes, but the mobile form factor just doesn’t work well for these sorts of tasks – they cry out for a real computer in order to be carried out quickly and efficiently.

Smartphones have matured, yet there remains room for improvement. In my opinion, improved performance and improved battery life are the two biggest things that will induce me to consider upgrading to a new phone. Improved camera performance is always a nice thing to have, but camera performance alone won’t induce me to pull the upgrade trigger.

Styling and silly emotional gimmicks have diminishing appeal in a mature market.


Fasetto Link Packs in the Features



Fasetto LinkNormally a wireless NAS unit wouldn’t merit a second look, with plenty of choice from big OEMs like Seagate to small crowd-funded efforts. But when this wireless NAS unit is the size of a matchbox, holds 2 TB and weighs 4oz, it’s definitely worth another viewing. Marlo and Nick examine this miniature marvel with Luke Malpass from Fasetto.

The Fasetto Link is a small waterproof cuboid just 48 mm by 23 mm, yet holds a 2 TB SSD along with 802.11ac wireless connectivity. Able to connect to 20 devices at the same time, it can stream to seven of them at once. It has a write speed of up to 1.5 Gb/s so it’s entirely feasible to have multiple wireless action cameras recording simultaneously to the Link. If that’s not enough, it uses Qi wireless charging to recharge in less than an hour.

Now this doesn’t come cheap – the 2 TB version US$1,449 but the price does fall with the capacity and a 256 GB version is only $349. The Link will be available in Q4 2016.

Marlo Anderson rounds up the latest technology news at The Tech Ranch and Nick DiMeo is a video producer at F5 Live: Refreshing Technology.

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StoAmigo’s TackApp Gives You a Personal Cloud



StoAmigo Logo

StoAmigo gives people a personal cloud with access to their files at home or back in the office from anywhere there’s an internet connection. Todd sits down on the sofa with Randy Creighton, VP Legal and Business Affairs at StoAmigo and talks through some of the background to the products and the key benefits of StoAmigo and the TackApp.

StoAmigo firmly believes in the benefits of the cloud but unlike many other cloud storage vendors, StoAmigo thinks that control and ownership of the data and files should remain with the individual, using storage that is already available. Wherever the information is held, it should still be possible to get to it from all over the world.

StoAmigo brings together storage from multiple sources into an “access anywhere” cloud and key to the ecosystem is StoAmigo’s TackApp which joins local device storage from PC, Mac or Android into the cloud. All the software is free to download so there’s no risk in trying it out.

As expected from a cloud service, files can be shared securely with other people too. StoAmigo takes this a little further than others, providing information on when files were accessed and whether they were viewed or downloaded. This gives even greater control and ownership over the data.

Todd Cochrane is the host of the twice-weekly Geek News Central Podcast at GeekNewsCentral.com, and special thanks to our CES partner, StoAmigo. Download and try out TackApp for free for Windows, Mac and Android from the links here.

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StoAmigo Gives You A Cloud at CES



StoAmigo LogoRegular patrons of Kickstarter and Indiegogo will know that personal cloud devices regularly pop up for crowdfunding. Having said that, there’s no need to take a chance and wait several months as StoAmigo have created a complete ecosystem that unifies network cloud, personal cloud and device storage. Don Baine finds out more from Richard Stiles, VP StoAmigo.

StoAmigo brings together storage into an “access anywhere” cloud from multiple sources and key to the ecosystem is StoAmigo’s TackApp which joins local device storage from PC, Mac or Android smartphone into the cloud. Accessing the StoAmigo cloud from the smartphone client app, Don is impressed by the speed and responsiveness of the system. Video and music can be streamed instantly, and as expected, all the data is encrypted.

All the software is free to download so there’s no risk in trying it out. For those wanting a dedicated storage device, StoAmigo’s CloudLocker provides an initial 278GB of NAS storage which can be expanded by adding additional USB storage. It’s priced at US$349 but there’s currently $150 off if you’re quick.

Don Baine is the Gadget Professor and he holds classes at TheGadgetProfessor.com.

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Drobo Redefines Storage for Creative Professionals



Drobo Mini with SSDsCreative data makes the Drobo line of smart storage solutions. They have launched the Drobo Mini with Solid State Disk (SSD) drive. It can deliver up to 80% more performance compared to a Mini configured with traditional spinning hard drives. The Drobo Mini is the first portable and expandable SSD solution for filmmakers, photographers, and creative professionals.

The Drobo Mini connects via Thunderbolt or USB 3.0. It features four 2.5” SSD drive bays with an mSATA accelerator option. The package is rugged and compact. It is less than 3 pounds of weight, which makes it easily portable.

Another great thing about the Drobo Mini is that it protects data without requiring user intervention to do so. If a drive fails, Drobo Mini automatically repairs itself and returns to a protected state while providing full access to data. It does this without performance being affected. Drobo Mini can do that if one drive fails and in the case of multiple SSD drive failures.

Additional security is provided with battery backup that protects against data loss in the event of a sudden power outage. It ensures that all data in flight is protected until power is restored.

The Drobo Mini with SSD is available now in three capacity bundles of 1TB, 2TB and 4TB and starting at an MSRP of $1,199 through Drobo Store.


EditShare Provides Shared Storage Integration for NewTek Customers



EditShare logoEditShare is a leader in shared media storage and end-to-end tapeless workflow solutions for the post-production, TV, and film industries. They have announced their participation in the NewTek Developer Network. NewTek, as you may know, is the provider of the TriCaster multi-camera live video production solution and the 3Play slow-motion instant replay servers.

The new EditShare-NewTek workflow features EditShare shared storage (Xstream, Energy and Field 2). It also features Flow media asset management and Ark backup/archiving. All of this is integrated with NewTek live production systems.

This combined solution lets users capture media directly to central storage and immediately begin editing collaboratively on any industry-standard NLE with EditShare’s advanced project sharing capabilities. The integrated Flow MAM tools for tagging, managing, browsing, and retrieving video as well as non-video assets allow users to better organize and locate content for production.

EditShare shared storage provides industry-leading throughput and stream counts. A 16-drive EditShare shared storage system can sustain over 700 MB/second in any combination of reading or writing (when working in uncompressed HD or 2K).

Optional SSD and 15,000-RPM SAS drive configurations are available for even greater performance. This provides more than enough bandwidth to accommodate the live event captures from NewTek direct to EditShare central storage, while a number of NLE workstations simultaneously edit the material.


JMR Features BlueStor at NAB 2014



JMR logoJMR is featuring its product of the month at this year’s NAB. It is the BlueStor Network Storage System. BlueStor is an enterprise-class networked storage server that is powered by euroNAS. It has been built for the film, AV or broadcast professional that needs to upgrade the performance and reliability of their current shared storage environment.

The enterprise-class BlueStor Networked Storage Server has 16 6Gb/s SAS/SATA disk drive bays. It also has four (N+1 configured) high-velocity cooling fans. Other features include dual 630W (N+1) hot-swappable power accessories, dual internal SAS Expanders, six 1Gb/s NIC ports or optional Dual/Quad 10Gb/s and a high performance motherboard with two 8-core Intel XEON CPU’s.

BlueStor is now available in three high performance configurations. They are: Business 64-bit, Premium Ultra, and HA Cluster 64-bit. The BlueStore Networked Storage Server is SES 2.0 compliant. It provides real-time disk activity/failure status for every drive bay and physical user interface controls and indicators for power and cooling status. There are visible and audible alarms, and front panel “on-off” and “reset” switches.

You can find JMR at booth SL12112 at NAB 2014.


Kingston DataTraveler microDuo Review



Kingston Technology LogoThe Kingston DataTraveler microDuo is a solution to the problem many smartphone and tablet owners face when you have a pile of important files on your USB flash drive that really need to be on your device: your flash drive has a normal USB plug and your Android tablet has microUSB socket. Big into small isn’t going to go, and the USB to microUSB cable you have isn’t going to work as it’s plug to plug.

Kingston DataTraveler microDuo

Into this niche steps the Kingston DT microDuo. It’s a flash drive that has a USB plug on one end and a microUSB plug on the other. If you are using it with your PC, use the normal USB end; if you want to use it with your smartphone or tablet, flip the cap off and plug it in. It’s simple and brilliant.

Kingston DataTraveler microDuo Closed

As you’ll see from the pictures, the microDuo is pretty small – it’s under 3 cm long and isn’t much wider than the USB plug itself. A small lanyard is supplier to attach the microDuo to a keyring.

The other benefit is that it’s much faster than using wireless file transfers. Dropping a couple of GB of movies or music onto a tablet via 11n still takes minutes but copying over from the memory stick only takes seconds. Of course, you can play the media directly from the flash drive which is handy if your tablet is short on memory too.

In practice, the microDuo works as advertised – I was able to copy files onto the flash drive from my PC and then either copy or use directly from the microDuo to my tablet. What more can I say?

Kingston DataTraveler microDuo OpenHowever, there is a caveat with this solution and that’s the smartphone or tablet must support OTG (On The Go) where the port can act as a USB embedded host. Many recent devices support OTG, including the HTC One Max, Nexus 10 and Nexus 5, and even then sometimes additional software is required. There’s a list of OTG-supporting devices here and an online search will usually reveal other people’s experiences with your device.

The DT microDuo comes in a range of capacities (and RRP prices).

  • 8GB – £3.85
  • 16GB – £6.22
  • 32GB – £11.65
  • 64GB – £TBC

Those prices are competitive against standard flash drives – there’s only a pound or two in it – so if you are looking for a new flash drive and you have an Android device with OTG, it’s a “no brainer”, as they say.

Thanks to Kingston for the Data Traveler microDuo flash drive provided for review.


G-Technology G-RAID Mini Review



External USB 3 hard drives are pretty common these days and GNC has reviewed several models in the past. However, this is the first portable RAID unit that I’ve had on my desk. On show here is the G-Technology G-RAID mini and with a pair of 2.5″ drives, the G-RAID mini offers a choice of RAID 0 or RAID 1 in a very attractive silvery metal case.  Let’s take a look.

G-RAID mini Shadow

The G-RAID mini comes in the usual blue and white G-Technology packaging and in the box is the unit itself, a power supply, a travel case, a Firewire 400-to-800 cable, a Firewire 800 cable  and a USB3 cable. The travel case isn’t anything to write home about but it’s good to have the full range of cables. The G-RAID mini weighs in at just under a 1 kg so it’s pretty hefty but this an all metal case – there’s no cheap plastic here. It’s also surprisingly small at only 149 x 83 x 38 mm, as you’ll see from the ruler below. Overall, it’s a solid, well-built unit.

G-RAID mini Front

Looking over the unit, round the back are a USB 3 port, two Firewire 800 ports and the DC in jack. On the underside, there’s a cooling fan and on the front, there’s white LED in the G-Technology logo, which flashes with disk access. There’s a hidden “drive failure” LED which goes red if a drive dies, but you’ll see the LED flicker when the mini powers up. The G-RAID mini needs supplementary power from the PSU when connected up via USB, but it’s not need when the Firewire ports are used.

G-RAID mini Rear

RAID ConfigThe G-RAID mini can be configured either as RAID 0 with both drives contributing to one large logical volume or else as RAID 1 with the drives mirroring each other. There’s a simple configuration tool that let’s you chose which it’s going to be. Changing the RAID level completely erases the drive so it’s best to decide early what configuration you want.

The utility is available for Windows and Mac, but once the G-RAID mini is setup, it works as any device that understands USB storage, e.g. Linux boxes or Chromebooks.

So that’s the basics out the way. What’s the performance like? I ran through my usual selection of tests with hdparm, dd and bonnie++ in both RAID 0 and RAID 1 configurations. Remember, while these tests are indicative of performance, they are for my setup only.

RAID 0 USB 3 USB 2 FW 400
hdparm (read)  155 MB/s  33 MB/s 39 MB/s
dd (write)  178 MB/s  37 MB/s 22 MB/s
bonnie++ (write)  173 MB/s  37 MB/s 21 MB/s
bonnie++ (read)  171 MB/s  49 MB/s 55 MB/s

 

RAID 1 USB 3 USB 2 FW 400
hdparm (read) 126 MB/s 32 MB/s 39 MB/s
dd (write) 117 MB/s 38 MB/s 21 MB/s
bonnie++ (write) 114 MB/s 37 MB/s 21 MB/s
bonnie++ (read) 154 MB/s 51 MB/s 53 MB/s

In either configuration, the G-RAID mini is fast, especially when connected up via USB 3 in RAID 0. Looking at the data, it’s clear that at USB2 and Firewire 400 speeds, there’s no performance difference between RAID 0 and RAID 1. Simplistically the data connection rate is the limiting factor.

However, with USB3 bonnie shows that write speeds fall by a third in the RAID 1 configuration, with reading affected by only a 10% fall. This is not unexpected as extra work is required to write the data in a mirror setup. Regardless, it’s still 3 times faster than USB2.

In summary, the G-RAID mini is an ideal companion for power users with the latest ultrabooks or MacBook Pros where performance is matched to good looks. It’s not cheap with an on-line price of around £275 for the 2 TB version but the protection against single drive failure will be important to those with high profile or travelling roles where having the data available is crucial. The G-RAID mini is an attractive and well-built unit with great performance and it will appeal to both those who need either high-performance or protection against drive failure.


Save Screenshots in Your Dropbox



DropboxDropbox introduced something new that went into effect September 30, 2013. According to their blog, “all the screenshots you take can automatically be saved straight to your Dropbox”. It appears that the purpose is to give people a way to keep their computers a bit more organized. Instead of having screenshots on your desktop, for example, they can be stored in your Dropbox. It also gives people an easy way to share their screenshots.

There is a step-by-step explanation that people can follow if they would like to begin storing screenshots in their Dropbox. I linked to the instructions for Mac. You can also get a “how-to” for WinXP or Vista/Win7.

In short, you take a screenshot, then select to save that screenshot to your Dropbox. A window will pop up that gives you the option of saving that screenshot to your dropbox. (If you changed your mind, there is a “No, Thanks” button). Choose wisely:

From now on, whenever you take a screenshot, the application will automatically save it to a folder named Screenshots in your Dropbox folder. It will also copy a link to the screenshot that you can immediately paste anywhere, such as an email message or Facebook post. Anyone who clicks on the link will see your screenshot on a preview page on the Dropbox website.

In the same post, Dropbox also gives instructions about how to turn off the automatic saving of screenshots to your Dropbox folder. You can opt-out whenever you choose. In addition to using your Dropbox to store, and share, screenshots, there is another new feature for Mac users. You can now copy your entire iPhoto contents to your Dropbox. A new folder will be created for each of your iPhoto events.