Consumer Reviews
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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by Josh Linden

Seagate 5mm 500GB Laptop Ultrathin HDD Review

Seagate’s latest single-platter laptop hard drive that was announced today has slimmed down to just 5mm thick while maintaining standard SATA connectivity and interoperability with 7 and 9.5mm drive bays. The 5mm HDD market is centered around laptops, tablets, ultrabooks, and other mobile storage; product lines which are also transitioning from larger form factors to 5mm. If its performance is competitive with other third-generation slim drives, the Laptop Ultrathin's flexible form factor may give Seagate an edge in the mobile storage market.

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by Josh Shaman

OCZ Vertex 450 SSD Review

The OCZ Vertex 450 is the latest mainstream client SSD from OCZ that leverages their own Barefoot 3 controller, 7mm form factor and 20nm MLC NAND. That 20nm MLC NAND represents a significant 20% decrease over the NAND die utilized in its predecessor Vertex 4 which was 25nm. The Vertex 450 replaces the Vertex 4, and the reduction in NAND package size and move to proprietary controller enables OCZ to squeeze maximum value out of the Vertex 450 for consumers delivering a blend of economics and performance. While the 7mm form factor enables it to fit in most any notebook, the included 3.5" adapter makes it a snap to install in desktops and the Vertex 450 is bundled with Acronis True Image software to simplify moving data from an existing drive to the Vertex 450.

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by Josh Shaman

Buffalo DriveStation DDR Review (HD-GDU3)

The Buffalo DriveStation DDR is a USB 3.0 external storage device for both PCs and Macs that features 2TB and 3TB capacities and is designed to deliver greater performance than standard external drives by offering an additional 1GB cache for accelerated transfer speeds. The DriveStation DDR also includes the Buffalo Tools software suite for Windows which is designed to boost performance and enable users to backup their content and manage their device effectively. Additionally, DriveStation DDR is compatible with Time Machine and users can use Time Machine with DriveStation Axis to back up Macs.

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by Doug Crowthers

Samsung SSD 840 Review (TLC)

The Samsung SSD 840 is an entry-level consumer SSD and is the first to be made with TLC (Triple Level Cell) NAND. This differs from the MLC (Multi Level Cell) NAND used in every other consumer SSD. Up to this point, TLC NAND has only been used in less critical applications like USB thumb drives and memory cards, but its acceptance in the SSD space is emerging in large part because of the reduced cost of the NAND packages. Of course the tradeoff for the lowered price-point is endurance, but as consumers are coming to accept, most of them really don't write all that much data to their drives. The Samsung SSD 840 is built off of the same platform as the Samsung SSD 840 Pro with the Samsung MDX triple-core ARM 9 controller which is clocked at 300MHz and leverages Samsung's NAND and proprietary firmware.

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by Josh Shaman

OWC Envoy Pro EX Review

The OWC Envoy Pro EX is a USB 3.0 bus-powered portable storage device that offers capacities up to 480GB and is pre-formatted and primarily designed for Apple systems, though PC users can reformat and use the drive as well. The OWC Envoy Pro is the bare unit, while the EX models add SSD storage using OWC's Aura 6G SSDs. OWC's intent when they engineered the Envoy Pro EX was to create storage for the MacBook family that is ultra-portable, high-performance and protected from potential user-damage. The Envoy Pro EX meets those criteria: it can easily fit in a pocket, it offers SSD memory for superior speed compared to HDD-based portable drives, and in using SSD the device has no moving parts and is safe from physical damage in its anodized aluminum body.

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by Josh Shaman

WD My Passport Ultra Review

The WD My Passport Ultra, announced today, is a USB 3.0 portable storage device with capacities from 500GB up to 2TB that features local and cloud backups. The My Passport Ultra includes software for automatic backups to the host system or to the My Passport Ultra as well as the ability to use Dropbox to backup to the cloud. The Ultra, WD's latest My Passport iteration, also enables users to setup password protection and hardware encryption to keep data stored on the device secure from unauthorized access. Cosmetically-focused, the WD My Passport Ultra is available in four different colors (titanium, red, blue and black).

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by Josh Shaman

Kingston MobileLite Wireless Review

The Kingston MobileLite Wireless is the company's latest portable wireless storage device that ships without embedded storage and instead enables users to use memory cards (SD/SDHC/SDXC and microSD with included adapter) or USB flash drives to increase storage for tablets, phones and other mobile devices. MobileLite Wireless provides a battery life of up to 5 hours for playback and viewing files, and it conveniently charges over USB. The 5-hour life is 25% more than on the previous generation Wi-Drive portable wireless flash drive that Kingston continues to offer in 64GB and 128GB capacities. Uniquely, the MobileLite Wireless also offers the ability to serve as an emergency charger for mobile devices such as phones.

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by Josh Shaman

Newer Technology miniStack MAX Review

Newer Technology's miniStack MAX functions as an external storage device, optical drive, SD media card reader and USB hub simultaneously while matching the footprint and taking styling cues from the Mac Mini. This design makes it a great companion to the Mac Mini or any desktop or notebook. The miniStack MAX interfaces over USB 3.0, two Firewire 800 ports or an eSATA connection. The machine also features a USB hub with a total of three USB 3.0 ports, two of which have been designed to charge less power-hungry devices while one offers 2.1Amp power to charge tablets and other devices. The miniStack MAX is designed for backup and general storage as well as the needs of creative professionals.

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by Josh Shaman

Seagate 600 SSD Review

The Seagate 600 SSD is a performance-focused 2.5-inch MLC NAND client SSD in z-Height 5mm and 7mm form factors with a capacity up to 480GB that is primarily designed as an upgrade for laptop users who are gamers, enthusiasts or road warriors or simply need the drive for read-intensive applications. Additionally, as an SSD with no moving parts, there is less of a disk failure risk if users accidentally drop their laptop. Primarily though, Seagate developed the 600 SSD with performance focused on reducing wait times; its boot speed and load times are 50% faster than traditional HDDs. As far as endurance goes, the Seagate 600 SSD offers up to 40GB of data written per day for a maximum of 72TB written over its 3-year warranty period.

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