SilverStone EP03 USB 3.0 Charging Hub with Display Review

Introduction


USB hubs are nothing new and an essential tool for port multiplying which allows you to connect more devices to your system than you have ports available. This is particularly useful for mobile systems that come with very few ports on their own, but a stationary system can benefit equally from a good USB hub. In today’s review, I am taking a closer look at SilverStone’s EP03 USB 3.0 hub with built-in supercharger function and an integrated display for monitoring voltage and current on all ports.

At heart, SilverStone’s EP03 is a 4-port USB 3.0 hub capable of 5 Gbps transfer speeds. It is naturally also compatible with both USB 2.0 and 1.1 devices on both the host port and the individual connectors. That in itself is nothing new, but everything else is. In fact, this is a pretty smart hub.

When you pick the EP03 hub up and hold it in your hands, you have no doubt that this is a quality built hub. It feels sturdy and it also looks pretty good with its simple plastic case and top plate made of brushed aluminium.

The top is also what instantly reveals one of the features that make this USB hub unique, the built-in display. You can watch the current and voltage in real-time on the display for each of the four ports. Port selection is handled by the small button next to the display which lets you cycle the four ports.

As the display already indicates, this isn’t just a USB hub for peripheral and drive connection, it is also an intelligent charging station that can satisfy users’ increasing demand for fast charging of power-hungry mobile devices. It can deliver 2A to each of the four ports simultaneously and is fully compliant with the USB power delivery specifications 1.2 (BC 1.2).

In addition, the built-in protection mechanism ensures the EP03 can deliver power evenly and safely according to the number or the state of battery charge of connected devices. All these features can also be used to check if a new/replacement charging cable is up to the task and comes with the proper specifications compared to your original cable.

The SilverStone EP03 comes with an AC adapter included which both ensures that you have enough current to all ports, but also allows you to use it as charging station with the use of a host system. It comes with built-in over current and over voltage protections too, so all your connected devices should be safe.

The hub is built around a Genesys Logic GL3522 chipset which actually is a USB 3.1 Gen 1 controller, but that just leaves internal headroom and ensures the best possible connection.

Feature Highlights

  • Integrated display for monitoring voltage and current
  • Supports current up to 2A for each USB port
  • Provides four 5Gbps Super Speed USB 3.0 USB ports
  • High quality brushed aluminum design
  • Supports over voltage and over current protection
  • Includes AC adapter for stable power delivery
  • Compliant with USB power delivery specification 1.2

Package and Accessories

SilverStone always has some great looking packages for their devices and it’s no different for this USB 3.0 hub with fast charging and power meter. It presents itself colourful to the user and begs to be taken home. I know I wouldn’t walk past it.

The rear of the box explains the features in multiple languages.

One of the sides has more details on the product itself in the form of images and text.

And the other side has all the detailed specifications. Overall, a box that tells us everything there is to know about the product inside.

Inside the box, we find a USB 3.0 cable, an AC/DC power adapter, a user guide, and the USB hub itself.

Amazon US Offers Prime Users Cheaper Games

You remember that feeling when you’ve really wanted a game and the best place to buy it is online? Releases in a few days and you want to make sure you have it ready for when you get in, ready to stare and watch as it starts up and the world disappears. Now remember that $99 Amazon asked you for that next day delivery through Prime? Seems like the two could now be one and the same, with Amazon Prime offering discounts on all new releases and pre-orders of video games.

Amazon’s site now reveals that when you are a prime member you will receive (if its Amazon shipping the game) 20% off. Have you been burned by recent pre-orders not living up to expectations? For those burned by games like Colonial Marines fear not, the discount not only counts towards pre-orders but also for the first two weeks after its release.

Not only does the offer extend to those who have already pre-ordered games via Prime but it will also include Collectors editions of games. I’m sorry to say that product bundles, such as consoles and games releasing at the same time, will not be included in the deal.

Saving 20% may not seem like much, but if you purchase several games over the year the savings quickly stack. Sadly the offer seems to be limited to Amazon.com for now, so hopefully other Amazon sites will quickly follow suit. Check out the terms and conditions and FAQ’s before buying all those games you’ve been putting off pre-ordering.

“5G Playground” Opens the Door for Warp Speeds

Internet connection speeds have been somewhat of a hot topic over the last decade or so, consumers who demand ever-increasing speeds while internet service providers have been particularly lagging in certain regions of the world. Well, researchers who are developing new super-super-fast standard 5G mobile technologies have what has been described as a “playground” which they can visit in South Korea.

It has been reported that Service provider SK Telecom (South Korean wireless telecommunications operator) has unveiled its Research and Development “5G Playground” on Thursday with partners including Ericsson, Nokia, Intel and Samsung Electronics, it was also announced that a collection of regional standard bodies would host a series of events with the aim of building a global consensus on the emergence of 5G.

5G is potentially an important breakthrough after SK Telecom and Nokia demonstrated the possible capabilities of this network which ran at a super quick 19.1 Gbps (per second), SK plans to launch a 5G trial service in 2017.

As technology is becoming more advanced so is certainly the need for a turbo charged infrastructure, this new standard is expected to be completed by 2020, although it might vary as to the rollout progression speed per country. Until at least then, many people will have to make do with current speeds.

Image courtesy of thenextsiliconvalley

 

‘Concord 2’ Hypersonic Airbus Being Developed!

Airbus are known for their giant airplanes, and it’s not hard to know why, as they’re used all over the world to transport people and materials. Their new design hopes to improve on that by allowing them to travel at speeds of up to four and a half times the speed of sound!

To summarise this, travelling to New York from London currently takes seven to eight hours, with the new airbus design the flight would take a single hour. Flights from Paris to San Fransico and Tokyo to Los Angeles would take a mere three hours, saving people and companies time which they often don’t have lying around (or sitting) in the air.

The airplane will be a little different from your normal flight. designed to take off vertically thanks to some engines mounted underneath the jet is designed to climb vertically until it’s almost at the speed of sound. After this, it relies on rocket motors to carry it up to 100,000 feet before finally allowing the ramjets to push it to a final speed of Mach 4.5.

The design is similar to a lot of high-speed military jets, and even has some resemblance to the concord, a jet which was not allowed to operate over land due to the worry that it would cause a sonic boom. The new crafts design is built to limit not only the noise it creates but also the sonic booms, thereby hoping to allow it to travel in more populated areas without the restrictions set on the concord.

With only twenty seats on each jet, the chances are the tickets will be highly priced and the onboard entertainment short. Who wants a meal with their flight anyway?

Thank you Tech Sport for the information and the image. 

Europe Gets New Laws to Protect Net Neutrality

It’s the weekend and you decide you’re going to pop over the channel to go do a bit of shopping and enjoy a bit of Europe. While you’re abroad you realise you need to make a few quick phone calls, and maybe send a snap chat of what your buying, maybe even video chat an order from your friend for real french cheese or Belgium chocolate. Suddenly the biggest bill is your phone bill, with data roaming charging you for every single use of your phone, and even costing the people who have never left the country. This will soon change.

As of June 15th 2017, roaming charges will be scrapped in Europe. This means that everyone in Europe will pay the same price no matter which European country they are in. This does come with a catch though, in order to prevent abuse of foreign and local networks there will be a “fair use limit”. This means that after a certain amount of use you will find yourself being charged a basic fee, ultimately stopping people from grabbing cheap SIM cards abroad and using them as their main SIM.

On April 30th 2016 new net neutrality laws will come into effect, these will effectively ban not only “fast lanes” (where people pay extra for a service provider to prioritize their connection) and prevent internet service providers from blocking or throttling online content. While this seems to be a case for celebration, EU networks will be allowed to put aside a specialist part of their network for “higher quality” service. While under the condition that this doesn’t affect other people’s access to the rest of the internet, it does leave them open to a broad definition of “specialized services”.

Have you been charged for using your phone abroad? What was your biggest bill?

Thank you Engadget for the information.

Image courtesy of ItsAGadget.

Make Sure You’re Getting 100% Of Your Internet Connection

Net Neutrality is the concept that all information on the internet is equal, this means that if it’s you sending a message on facebook or someone else in your house playing a game, all the data being sent from your house across the world is treated equally. This concept means companies can’t pick and choose what data is slowed down so other bits of data can get somewhere quicker.

The Internet Health-checker tests your internet connection for just that, by sending random bits of data to locations outside of your internet providers network. This lets it see if there are jumps or bumps in how fast your internet connection is. But you’re not alone, when you test the connection it anonymously compares the data with others from the same provider, letting Fight For The Future check and see what companies, if any, are throttling internet users.

You may think that this is obvious, but some companies and even internet service providers (ISP’s) have made moves so that you or companies can pay for a better connection. The most famous of these examples was Comcast and Netflix, in which Comcast negotiated with Netflix to deliver smoother downloads to its customers in exchange for a small fee. The difference in the connection prior to the agreement and then after can be seen in the graph below.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) reclassified the Internet in America in February to prevent actions like this, in which companies could create fast and slow lanes, essentially making customers and internet based companies pay premiums for better speeds, while throttling the connections of people who were not willing to pay for the “premium” bundles.

I welcome any move that helps prevent fast lanes being created on the internet, the concept of reducing someone’s service so you can charge them and others more for a better service seems counter-intuitive to attracting customers to your company, with those found doing this caught and shamed publically online.

What’s your internet health like? Is your consistency high or is there a risk that your ISP is throttling your connection?

Thank you LifeHacker and Battle For The Net for the information.

Images courtesy of InternetHealthTestThe Washington Post and Netflix.

Plextor Booth @ CeBIT 2015

So we’re here at CeBIT 2015 with Plextor. They brought along today two test benches featuring their M6e PCI SSD drive and their M7e MSATA SSD.

We’ve seen this technology before at CES, but it’s definitely worth mentioning the serious speed increase using the PlexTurbo application to get massive speed increases. We see in the image below, over 8GB/s read speeds and over 7GB/s write speed. To put that in perspective, roughly an hour episode of Breaking Bad at 1080p is roughly 1GB rounded down; this drive can transfer 8 episodes a second at that speed.

We look forward to new innovative technology brought forward by Plextor in the near future. Any news or events from Plextor, we will keep you updated. We even heard rumour that Version 3 of their drive may be ready in time for Computex, but we’ll have to wait and see!

First 64-bit Firefox Build Released

Mozilla has joined the 64-bit browsing party with Firefox for Windows, but only in the Developer Edition for now; it’s a start right?

The Developer Edition is a special version of Firefox with built-in tools for creating websites and web apps. While OS X and Linux already have a 64-bit version, Mozilla is just adding a Windows build with 64-bit support now.The main advantage of 64-bit browsing is the ability to address more than 4 GB of RAM, allowing for beefier web apps. As an example, Mozilla points to games that run on Epic’s Unreal Engine, noting that a 64-bit browser can store significantly more assets in memory. “For some of the largest of these apps, a 64-bit browser means the difference between whether or not a game will run,” Mozilla wrote in a blog post.

Beyond the additional memory, Mozilla says the 64-bit browser is simply faster, speeding up JavaScript code through new hardware registers and instructions that aren’t available with the 32-bit version. In one test of certain JavaScript applications, throughput improved by 8% to 17%. It’s unclear when 64-bit browsing will make its way to the main version of Firefox for Windows. But given that the Developer Edition is on version number 38, and the stable version is on 36, a mainstream release is probably a few months out. If you’re running the Developer Edition now and want to switch to 64-bit, Mozilla recommends uninstalling the Win32 without deleting your profile, and then downloading the 64-bit version.

Thanks to PCworld.com for this information

Use Your Own Batteries to Charge Your Phone

A couple of days ago, we reported on a new type of disposable battery for smartphones. A number of our readers pointed out that while being convenient, the batteries would probably end up being something very expensive that you inevitably throw away.

Well, now someone has what could possibly be a better solution – use your own 9-volt batteries to give your phone the energy boost it needs.

Meet the Plan V – a small, foldable device, that allows you to grab any 9-volt battery to give you up to an extra 4 hours of talk time on your smartphone. The product is part of a Kickstarter campaign aiming for $30,000 in funding.

The first version available uses MicroUSB, while an iOS compatible model will be available later. Backers can put forward $10 to reiceve theirs in February if the Kickstarter is successful.

Source: Gizmodo

ASRock Announce X99 WS-E/10G Motherboard – 22 Gbps NIC

Large scale motherboard manufacturer ASRock has just released their new X99 motherboard, the X99 WS-E/10G – featuring an amazing on-board network interface capabilities of 22 Gbps.

It’s able to achieve such speeds due to its two included Intel I210AT Gigabit Ethernet controllers, coupled with a dual 10-GIGE network interface provided by a single-chip Intel X540. This brings to mind a popular ‘Xzhibit meme’ which would read something like – “Yo dawg, I heard you like NIC’s, so I put a NIC on your NIC so you can network while you network.” This amalgamation of chips result in a blisteringly fast transfer peak speed of 22 Gbps, which will out-match your data drives and internet connection in an instant – it’s time for them to catch up!

ASRock has reportedly released some tests showing the fast transfer speeds in action, likening it to Google Fiber’s 1 Gbps offering and claiming its superiority to this service.

Alongside this NIC offering, ASRock’s new X99 motherboard gives you seven expansion slots (supporting Quad CrossFire and SLI configurations), 12 SATA ports and the ability to utilize up to Xenon Processor models E5 v3 (Haswell-EP) and 128GB of ECC memory.

Given this information, it seems that ASRock has provided us with a solid server option – however there is no mention of retail price, so don’t hold your breath just yet. Even though the 22 Gbps NIC offering is a bit of a gimmick and will vastly outmatch most, if not all, hardware in your possession – it’s nice that the NIC is no longer a bottleneck on our networks. Remember the days of a 10 Mbps card? We do, it sucked.

Image courtesy of Chiphell

Charge Your Phone in 30 Seconds

Reuters reports about an Israeli company that claims to have developed a prototype that could charge a mobile phone in 30 seconds.

“Using nano-technology to synthesize artificial molecules, Tel Aviv-based StoreDot says it has developed a battery that can store a much higher charge more quickly, in effect acting like a super-dense sponge to soak up power and retain it.”

The technology could eventually charge a car in minutes, rather than hours – this would be something of a massive breakthrough for electric cars, with battery charging being one of their biggest drawbacks.

The company says that the technology now exists, but needs to be refined before it can be implemented into consumer devices. They’ve received $48 million in funding to help them achieve that goal and say that it could be ready for all of us in 2016.

Source: Reuters

Google Snag Ex-Qualcomm Executive To Speed Up Google Fibre Process

Ex-Senior Vice President of Qualcomm, Dennish Kish, has been announced as Google Fiber’s new VP – taking over from Milo Medin who is reported to be staying on as an advisor.

Kish’s Linked In profile shows that he’s been working at Google’s headquarters since July 2014, however the official release has only just come to light.

This is a bid for Google to speed up their Google fibre rollout reports say, with the service currently only available in Kansas City and Provo, Utah with announced plans to be available in Austin, Texas in the near future. It’s obvious that Google’s amazingly fast 1,000Mpbs connection is only currently available to a very small quantity of the worlds population, which is a shame as it is rated at 100 times faster than the US current average for speed of connection.

Kish is said to have been hired as a driving force behind Googles Fibre expansion, with reports claiming he’ll be responsible for a rollout of up to 34 other cities around the United States.

What is the premise behind Google Fibre and the blazing fast speed it provides?

“Google Fiber was created with the promise of an Internet connection transferred by pulses of light rather than electrical transmission, a decades-old technology that has played a significant role in the advancement of information networks around the world. However, broadband Internet service reigns supreme in the US, due in part to deals struck with local governments and federal regulations demanding blanket access to the Internet” CNet

Other internet providers including AT&T and CenturyLink are working on their own form of gigabit internet throughout other select cities in the US, using a similar premise to Google. With the good reception that fibre has been seeing currently Here’s hoping the rest of the world cottons on sooner rather than later and works on some form of fibre of their own.

When will Google Fiber be coming to my city? I can hear you all screaming it right now. Unfortunately, we don’t have any other information to provide, but Google Fibre’s official website might be something worth hitting F5 over at every now and then.

Image courtesy of Geek Wire

Google Fibre Is Not Coming To The UK Anytime Soon

A couple of days ago we heard of a report that Google was looking at a project to bring Google Fibre to the UK, however it appears many people read into the report in the wrong way. Although Google do admit that they have looked at the possibility of having their ultra-fast fibre service here in the UK, a look at the possibility is all it is.

Since the news has flown around the Google is coming here and everyone has got their hopes up, a spokesperson for Google spoke to Engadget saying that people should not read too much into it. His statement goes on to say that they speak to telecoms companies all of the time but they have not had any serious planning discussions for Google Fibre in the UK.

We have informal conversations with other telecom companies all the time, but we’ve never had any serious planning discussions about bringing Google Fiber to Britain.”

Getting their service up and running in the US has not come without its challenges, aside from the fact that the current internet infrastructure has to be worked on so that it can deliver the blazing-fast 1Gbps speeds that Google boast, Google are in a highly competitive market and it does not take that much to get in the way of other providers and push them out-of-the-way. Not surprisingly this is likely to upset a few people along the way. Fortunately UK ISPs such as BT and Virgin Media, who both offer some of the UK’s fastest fibre internet packages,Google are not going to be here for a while yet. I wouldn’t be surprised if they start coming up with a game plan in the not too distant future to tackle Google Fibre if they do decide to make the move.

Source: Engadget

Transcend Unveils its ESD400 Portable Solid State Drives Featuring Up To 1TB Capacity

Transcend has announced its SuperSpeed USB 3.0 Portable Solid State Drive, featuring up to 1 TB capacity, high transfer speeds of up to 410 MB/s read and 380 MB/s write, as well as an extra durable and compact design.

The company states that the mentioned external SSD solution is suitable for all types of data, including high-resolution multimedia files and applications, photos, documents and so on, thanks to its large storage capacity, ranging from 120 GB up to 1 TB. Also, the UASP support is said to provide significantly faster performance along with the SuperSpeed USB 3.0 technology.

The absence of moving parts is said to also enhance the ESD400, having it run cooler and withstand grater shock and vibrations compared to other conventional portable hard disk solutions. Measuring in at 92 x 62 x 10.5 mm and weighing in at 56g, the ESD400 could fit in a pocket, having a small and light construction while also providing durability and reliability. Transcend has even stated to provide a hang travel pouch in order to protect the drive’s case during transportation.

In addition to the latter, Transcend is said to include a free download of the exclusive Transcend Elite data management tool, providing an easy way to perform incremental backups, secure confidential information and much more. The company also added the One Touch auto-backup button to the ESD400, enabling customers to instantly backup and synchronise data from a notebook or desktop.

Transcend is said to provide the ESD400 in capacities of 128 GB and up to 1 TB, having stated a recommended price for each of them based on capacity. The 128 GB version is stated to come with a price tag of $109, while 256 GB version has been given a price of $189, followed by the 512 GB at $349 and finally the 1TB version at $699, all coming with a 3-year limited warranty.