Consumer Reviews
by Josh Shaman

SanDisk Extreme microSDXC UHS-I Review

The SanDisk Extreme microSDXC UHS-I is a memory card designed for tablets, smartphones and cameras that ships in capacities of 16GB, 32GB or 64GB and differentiates itself from other cards on the market with its robust performance. SanDisk quotes transfer rates at 80MB/s for read activity and 50MB/s for write activity. These performance specs along with the UHS Speed Class 1 (U1) and Class 10 video recording ratings optimize the Extreme microSDXC UHS-I to handle anything from documents and images to Full HD video at 1080p. This is particularly significant for photographers and video/audio editors who need to capture or edit loads of content, though in typical consumer use cases the card will undoubtedly drastically cut down on transfer time as well.

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by Josh Shaman

Toshiba Canvio Slim II Review

The Toshiba Canvio Slim II is a bus-powered portable storage device that comes in a small footprint in both 500GB and 1TB capacities and interfaces over USB 3.0. The Slim II can also be purchased preformatted for Windows or Mac; the Windows model includes a NTFS driver for Mac and the Mac version is Time Machine compatible. For additional value, the Canvio Slim II features preloaded software that can also be found in some of the other Toshiba Canvio series drives. Users receive free licensed-access to NTI Backup Now EZ 2010 which enables simple, optionally-encrypted backups, and they also receive a license for Pogoplug PC for cloud backups which is normally $30. Canvio owners receive 10GB of storage for free versus 5GB for non-Canvio owners. There is also a piece of media editing software called Muvee and an HDD Password Tool that enables users to set a password for the drive.

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by Josh Shaman

HGST G-Technology G-RAID mini Review

The G-RAID mini from HGST G-Technology is an external storage device that now features up to 2TB of total capacity, interfaces over USB 3.0 or FireWire 800, and enables users to implement either a RAID 0 or RAID 1 configuration for performance or data security needs. The drive features robust performance capabilities which it derives from the two 7,200 RPM hard drives that are fitted inside its compact, rigid enclosure. That enclosure implements the same design features that G-Technology delivered in the G-DRIVE mini and G-DRIVE 4TB devices that we recently reviewed, and it gives creative professionals on the go improved options for their mobile data needs.

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by Josh Shaman

OWC Mercury Helios PCIe Enclosure Review

The OWC Mercury Helios is a PCIe enclosure that supports one half-length, full-height PCIe card, interfaces via Thunderbolt and is designed as a notebook companion for creative professionals who need robust performance for their workstation or even on-the-go. With this design incorporating Thunderbolt, OWC is targeting users who have typically found themselves relegated to their desktop workstation for applications that require a PCIe port. The Helios removes this barrier and is lightweight enough at just 2.4 pounds and has small enough dimensions to make it simple to pack up and tote along for business. OWC sells the enclosure bare or with a range of capacities from their OWC Mercury Accelsior E2 PCIe SSD. We recently reviewed the first Mercury Accelsior, but with the new Accelsior E2, OWC added two 6Gb/s eSATA ports on top of the same performance the first Accelsior provided.

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by Josh Shaman

HGST Travelstar 7K1000 Review

The HGST Travelstar 7K1000 is a 1TB, 7,200RPM HDD that comes in a 2.5", 9.5mm form factor and interfaces over SATA 6Gb/s. The Travelstar 7K1000 is fairly unique in the space. Many drives are migrating to slimmer z-Heights at 7mm or even 5mm to meet the needs of space-constrained applications such as upgrading HDDs in ultrabooks. However, the 7K1000's target is a larger market - consumers that require robust capacity in their notebook computer or small form factor desktop at an economical price. Matching well with notebooks, the drive also features low power consumption and the highest shock tolerance in the industry. The 7K1000 also leverages Advanced Format which increased the physical sector size from 512 to 4096 bytes (4k). This helps to improve capacity and error correction capabilities.

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by Josh Shaman

WD Blue Slim 1TB HDD Review

The WD Blue Slim is a 7mm, 2.5" hard drive that fits many form-factor limiting applications such as implementation in ultra-thin notebook computers, and it does so while being one of the first 7mm drives offered at the robust 1TB capacity-point. The 5,400 RPM Blue Slim, which ships ranging from 320GB to 1TB, demonstrates WD's continual commitment to driving innovation in this segment. Previously the 2.5" portable hard drives required three platters and a 9.5mm form factor to hit the 1TB mark; WD's new 500GB platters open up the opportunity for smaller form factors. Nowhere is this more obvious in the New Blue Slim and the recently released 5mm WD Blue UltraSlim which comes in at the industry's thinnest height at 5mm while still delivering 500GB of capacity.

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by Josh Shaman

Seagate NAS HDD Review

The Seagate NAS HDD is a 3.5" form factor, 6Gb/s SATA interface hard drive that spins at 5,900RPM, ranges up to 4TB in capacity and is specifically engineered to be installed in one to five-bay NAS devices. With the consumer and small office NAS market growing quickly and with buyers usually opting for diskless models, Seagate is responding to market demand with this specific use-case drive. Of course there are loads of drives out there that users could implement to populate a NAS, but most are overkill or otherwise sub-optimal for the need. Seagate joins the NAS HDD market by designing a drive to handle NAS workload and operational requirements with their NASWorks specialized firmware, three-year warranty and support from many leading NAS vendors.

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by Josh Shaman

Seagate Central Review

The Seagate Central is a consumer-friendly NAS device ranging up to 4TB in capacity that features an Ethernet port which enables users to centralize their content and share it over their wired or wireless network by plugging into a router. Behind the concept for the Central is the reality that most consumers have their content spread across flash drives, portable hard drives, several computers and mobile devices. The Central makes it simple to maintain that level of freedom to have files and media wherever they are initially stored, but while also creating more convenient access to have all of that content backed-up and readily-available in one place.

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by Josh Shaman

Netgear VueZone Camera System Review

The Netgear VueZone is a battery-powered camera system that is wire-free and delivers extremely simple 10 minute setup so that users can check-in on their pets, kids, home deliveries and anything else they need to monitor using a smartphone, PC or Mac. The second-generation camera system offers motion-detection, and recently Netgear has also introduced night vision cameras as well. The system utilizes a base station that connects to a home network using its Ethernet port. The station supports live streaming views of up to two camera, though with upgraded monthly plans stations can support as many as 15 cameras and can also record content and store it on the cloud.

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by Josh Shaman

SanDisk Extreme II SSD Review

The SanDisk Extreme II, announced today, is a 2.5" 7mm form factor performance SSD with capacities that range up to 480GB. The Extreme II is naturally the second iteration in the performance SSD line, and SanDisk has brought several changes to market with the new Extreme II. One of the most significant changes is that SanDisk has dropped the SandForce controller, moving to Marvell so they can provision the Extreme II with their own in-house developed firmware. SanDisk has also replaced the 24nm MLC NAND found in the original Extreme with 19nm MLC NAND, keeping in line with NAND die shrinks. Another important change comes in the form factor; the Extreme II shrinks to 7mm down from 9.5mm to meet the growing demand for drives that fit space-constrained applications. Lastly, SanDisk is now offering an additional two years for their warranty which now stands at 5 years.

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