Thecus Adds a Plus to the N2810 with Better CPU and Double RAM

Thecus already released a mighty NAS with the N2810, but that doesn’t mean that it can’t be improved upon. The new version is called the N2810PLUS and it comes with a better CPU and double the RAM. Both are things that are hard to argue with and a welcome addition to Thecus’ lineup.

The N2810PLUS comes equipped with 4GB DDR3 memory over the 2GB in the N2810 and the slightly faster Intel Celeron N3150 quad-core processor. The previous model used the N3050 processor, so it is only a small bump. Still, every little helps and can make the difference for a smooth experience.

The N2810 and N2810PLUS NAS’ support 4K video output via the built-in HDMI port and this is one of the areas where this upgrade should make a difference. The added memory, which most likely also makes it dual-channel over a single-channel setup now, will provide a much smoother display of high-resolution content. The addition of two more CPU cores will no doubt also help with this and any other task.

The NAS is designed for easy hard drive installation and with a focus on reliability. It can act as a full multimedia centre that supports AirPlay, DLNA, and much more – on top of the direct 4K playback. Two LAN ports provide the user with 7 modes of link aggregation and the three USB 3.0 ports deliver high data speeds for portable storage.

It also comes with the latest version of Thecus operating system, ThecusOS 7.0, that provides an optimized and feature-rich platform with an intuitive user interface and easy navigation. Key new features include Photo Station, Thecus App Center, and File Center. ThecusOS 7.0 delivers significant advancements in productivity, flexibility, and performance.

The new N2810PLUS edition NAS will begin shipping globally today, so it should be at your local Thecus dealer very shortly.

Zinc Alloy Body USB 3.0 Flash Drives by Team Group

Team Group has just released a series of new USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 flash drives that feature compact designs created using zinc alloy. To be specific, we’re talking about the release of the rectangular compact Mini Block USB drive C157/C156, and the AmaZinc USB drive C162/C161, both models featuring tough metal bodies as well as capless designs that add a plus of practicality. The C157 and C156 versions are based on USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 technologies respectively, and they are available in silver and black color variants. When it comes to capacity, these models come in 16 to 64GB and 8 to 64GB versions, which means that they can satisfy a wide range of storage needs.

However, if you’re looking for the absolute fastest offering, you might be interested in the USB 3.0 C162 model, which boasts read speeds of up to 85 MB/s as well as write speeds of up to 20 MB/s. The C161 variant is also noteworthy, but since it features a USB 2.0 transfer interface, it is aimed mostly at mainstream consumers. Below you will find a complete list of specifications for these new zinc alloy USB flash drives by Team Group. Let us know which one you like best so far!


 

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.

Lexar Launches Compact Professional XQD 2.0 USB 3.0 Reader

Moving on to camera equipment that doesn’t use the more-or-less default SD or micro SD cards creates an issue with most portable systems, you can’t just slide the memory card into your notebook and transfer the files over for backup or editing. Most portable systems such as notebook and ultrabooks feature SD card slots, but what if your equipment uses QXD cards instead? That’s when you need an external card reader and Lexar just introduced the Professional XQD 2.0 USB 3.0 Reader which is designed to aid professionals in quickly transferring files from XQD 2.0 cards to computers and not take up a lot of space.

Lexar already has the impressive Workflow XR2 reader, but this one is a more compact version that’s better suited for people with limited space on the go. It can easily slip into a pocket or bag, and offers a simple plug-and-play design with a USB 3.0 connector so content can be securely transferred on the go. Whether you capture photos in the RAW image format or record 4K video, this card reader will have your files transferred in no time.

“Given the rapid growth and widespread appeal of 4K video, we realised it was essential to create a reader for XQD 2.0 cards that provided professionals with a way to transfer great video and photo content without the wait time,” said Steffi Ho, product marketing manager, Lexar. “The Lexar Professional XQD 2.0 USB 3.0 Reader supercharges post-production content transfer, no matter what you’re shooting.”

Lexar backs the Professional XQD 2.0 USB 3.0 Reader with an impressive 5-year warranty and it comes with an MSRP of £29.99. Availability is expected in late April.

Feature Highlights

  • Provides professional-level high-speed transfer of RAW images and 4K video files
  • Accelerates workflow, leveraging SuperSpeed USB 3.0 technology
  • Designed for use with XQD 2.0 cards
  • Compact, portable design for photographers and videographers on the go
  • Five-year limited warranty

Lexar 512GB Portable SSD D512 USB 3.0 Solid State Drive Review

Introduction


Today we are taking a closer look at fast external storage, more specifically Lexar’s newest portable SSD called the D512. Lexar also offers the drive in a smaller D256 version with 256GB capacity, but I have the pleasure to have to big 512GB model on the test bench today.

Right away we see that we have a small and compact drive which is perfect for a portable unit. On top of that, it is also a very light drive that you barely will notice when you have it packed next to the rest of your items. So we have a strong portable drive right of the start, but what about the performance. Performance has to match and that’s where a portable SSD shines over a flash drive. Both types of drives use NAND technology, but other than that there are big differences.

Lexar’s portable SSD is capable of sequential transfer speeds up to 450MB/s when reading and 245MB/s writing which is pretty nice for a portable storage solution that is as small and light as the D512. The is no official rating for random performance, but we’ll naturally have a look at that once we get the benchmarks rolling.

The tiny D512 provides plenty of space for you while you are on the go and travel about. Whether you want to take along you movie collect, music library, and photos, you’re covered with plenty of storage. It is also an optimal drive to unload all your vacation photos onto from memory cards and portable capture devices.

One of the unique things that come with the D512 is the capacity meter on the front. The first five LEDs act as such and will light up as the drive gets filled with data. This allows you an instant view on the drive fillage as soon as you plug it into your system. The second unique feature works in conjunction with Lexar’s other Workflow products. The new portable SSD uses the same form factor and connector which makes it compatible with the Workflow drive hubs. Just plug the drive in and you are good to go. I love the Workflow system so much and use it almost every day for my work here at eTeknix.

The drive is also highly compatible when it comes to volume setup as it supports both NTFS, FAT32, and exFAT. On its own, the drive is fully plug-and-play and doesn’t require any drivers or tools of any sort. This naturally originates from USB standard that is plug-and-play by definition.

Lexar is part of the Micron Group which also means that the drive is equipped with some of the best NAND flash on the market and that has undergone high-grade quality checks before assembly.

Feature Highlights

  • SSD-level performance — up to 450MB/s read and 245MB/s write speeds
  • Sleek and compact design
  • Available in 256GB and 512GB capacity options
  • LED capacity meter displays available storage space
  • Great for use with Lexar Professional Workflow line products
  • Two-year limited warranty

Package and Accessories

Lexar packed the 512GB Portable SSD in a neat white box that shows the drive’s look and basic specifications on the top.

The bottom of the box also has the system requirements, which is a USB port, as well as the basic specification again, but in several languages.

Inside the box, you will find the portable SSD itself as well as a USB 3.0 cable.

Both sides of the drive are covered with a protective plastic film to make sure it arrives scratch-free in your hands. It also gives you that little bit of joy it is to remove the film from your brand new device.

ASUSTOR Launches Entry-Level Quad-Core AS32 Series NAS

ASUSTOR announced the launch of two new economical entry-level multimedia NAS devices called the AS3202T and AS3204T. The difference between the two is the number of drives you can mount, either 2 or 4. The new AS32 Series is built around Intel’s latest Celeron 1.6GHz quad-core CPU that provides plenty of processing power for such units and they come with 2GB DDR3 dual-channel memory.

Besides being a great quad-core CPU for NAS usage, the systems also feature Intel’s AES-NI encryption instructions that allow the devices to support hardware encryption. This is something that gives a far better performance when dealing with encrypted drives than a software solution would.

The AS32 series also features a great graphics processing unit that allows you to use the NAS as a multimedia hub. You can connect the systems directly to a TV or monitor for direct playback without the use of other devices. Attach a keyboard and mouse or use an IR remote to stay in control of the system.

The ASUSTOR Portal App makes it easy and allows you to use the NAS to browse the web, change the configuration, use KODI and similar apps while the official ASUSTOR remote control completes the couch experience. Users can centrally store all of their digital multimedia on the NAS (photos, music, movies) and play it all back on demand, enjoying a comprehensive home multimedia experience.

The AS32 series doesn’t feature external drive bays, but still work with a toolless mounting system that allows you to easily install everything just by the use of thumbscrews. The exterior design uses the diamond pattern that we’ve seen before, for example on the AS1002T that we reviewed a little while ago.

“In order to provide better multimedia playback experience to consumers, we are launching the AS3202T and AS3204T tower model NAS devices which feature powerful performance,” said Johnny Chen, Product Manager at ASUSTOR. “When compared to the 31 series devices of the previous generation, the 32 series devices provide even more powerful graphics processing capabilities which allow for sharper imaging and smoother playback for all high definition multimedia.”

External storage can be connected to the three USB 3.0 ports on the AS32 series. One is located on the front for easier access and the other two are on the back next to the Gigabit Ethernet RJ45 port and the HDMI 1.4a port.

The NAS naturally come with ASUSTOR’s ADM operating system that’s both easy to use and setup. There is no need for complex installation and the devices can be setup with just a three steps. This makes it a great NAS for beginners as it’s budget friendly, easy to install, and still powerful.

Besides the default function, the functionality can be expanded with a large variety of add-on applications that can be installed directly from the built-in app central. There are mobile companion apps too for users that want to access their storage on the go and through the comfort of their smart devices.

Currently, ADM version 2.5.4 is the latest official version of the operating system, but the ADM 2.6 beta is available too and thereby we can expect the full version of this to be released soon too. The latest ADM 2.6 beta includes upgrades to ASUSTOR Portal web applications by increasing YouTube 1080p playback performance and support for a rich variety of streaming video sites such as Netflix, MetaCafe, US Stream, Vimeo, Youkou, Tudou and more.

Key Features for the AS3202T and AS3204T

  • Intel Celeron 1.6GHz Quad-Core Processor (Automatic Overclocking to 2.24GHz)
  • RAID 1 Read Speed of up to 112+MB/s and Write Speed of up to 110+ MB/s
  • 2GB Built-in Dual-Channel DDR3L High-Speed Memory
  • 1 x Gigabit Ethernet Port
  • Front of Device: 1 x SuperSpeed USB 3.0 (5 GB/s) Port
  • Back of Device: 2 x SuperSpeed USB 3.0 (5 GB/s) Port
  • 1 x HDMI 1.4b Port
  • Infrared Receiver
  • Supports RAID Volume Management Single, JBOD, RAID 0/1 (AS3202T)
  • Supports RAID Volume Management Single, JBOD, RAID 0/1/5/6/10 (AS3204T)
  • Supports Seamless System Migration
  • Supports Largest Capacity Hard Disks on the Market (8TB)
  • Supports Intel AES-NI Hardware Encryption Engine

Synology Releases DS416slim 2.5-Inch 4-Bay NAS

Synology released a new NAS that is a little different that what we’re used to seeing. First off it is very tiny and it is also a bit in reverse, but with good reason. The new Synology Diskstation DS416slim is a NAS for 2.5-inch hard disk drives and drives are plugged through the rear. With its measurements, 18.4 cm x 16.8 cm x 23.0 cm, and its low weight, 700 grams, the DS416slim is a ultra-small NAS that still packs quite a punch.

The Synology DiskStation DS416slim is built around an Armada 385 Dual Core 1.0GHz CPU and comes with 512 MB DDR3 memory. That is enough to allow this tiny unit to perform with up to 170MB/s read and 77MB/s write performance through a link aggregated windows connection. The CPU also features a dedicated hardware encryption engine.

As mentioned above, the DS416slim is capable of link aggregation and that is because it comes with two RJ45 Gigabit Ethernet LAN ports on the rear panel. Whether you want to configure them for load balancing or failover protection is naturally your choice. The NAS also comes with two USB 3.0 ports for external storage and other devices, one on the front for easy access and one on the rear for more permanent connected devices.

The rear is also where you find the four drive bays that each can hold a 2.5-inch hard disk drive or solid state drive with a height up to 12.5mm. Without any real height limitation, the choice of drives to use is yours. The power consumption is rated at about 17 watts during access and just 11 watts during HDD hibernation, which also makes it a very power efficient NAS. The noise output is rated to 20.3 dBA.

As this is a Synology NAS, it naturally comes with their own impressive DSM operation system. The DSM system also just got a major overhaul and version 6.0 was just released as well. You get tons of streaming and backup options as well as mobile apps and security when you pick a DSM 6.0 powered NAS.

The new Synology DS416slim comes with a recommended retail price of £222.00 including VAT or €248.64 excluding VAT, and it is backed by a 2-year warranty.

Lexar Announces New 200GB High-Performance microSDXC Card

Lexar released a new memory card for those that need a lot of speed and a lot of storage at the same time as they announced the release of their new 200GB microSDXC card that comes with a 633x speed rating and an SD Class U1 rating.

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen a 200GB card in this size, but it is the first time that it goes mainstream and becomes an available card for normal people that want that extra capacity in their smartphones, tablets, and other portable devices based on SD cards. The 633x speed rating (633 times 150KB/s) equals to about 95MB/s which is the read speed that this card can perform – far higher than the official U1 rating. The 200GB capacity is enough to store up to 17 hours of 4K and Full HD video, 33,000 photos, or 28,000 of your favourite songs – if you even got a library that size at all.

“Professional and everyday photographers are now more passionate about shooting high-quality video, on everything from digital SLRs to sports and aerial cameras,” said Steffi Ho, product marketing manager, Lexar. “With the Lexar 200GB microSDXC UHS-I card, photographers can continue to capture and store large amounts of content on the go, without having to worry about running out of space.

Lexar also included a USB 3.0 card reader for high-speed card-to-computer transfer of all your captured moments. The card reader is naturally backward compatible with USB 2.0, so a connection to legacy systems won’t be an issue either. The 200GB Lexar High-Performance 633x microSDXC UHS-I card comes with a limited lifetime warranty while the card reader itself has a 1-year limited warranty.

Should your interest be tickled by this news, then the good part is that it’s already available and it isn’t even as expensive as you might think. The new card is currently available for purchase with an MSRP of £109.99.

SilentiumPC Introduces Regnum RG1 Chassis with Dual-Chamber

Building a system on a budget can be tricky in some areas such as the power supply where you shouldn’t skimp out and the chassis where it can be hard to find one you like for the money you have available. If you like it simple and effective while not costing much at the same time, then the newly introduced Regnum RG1 might be worth a closer look.

The Regnum RG1 features a simple and clean exterior, an internal dual chamber design for cable management and looks, and plenty of space for large hardware parts – and all that for less than £24.00.

The large main chamber in the Regnum RG1 offers plenty of space for full-sized ATX setups. The seven expansion slots provide the ability to mount plenty of add-in cards such as graphics card with a length up to 380mm. The CPU cooler can be up to 160mm high, but that’s only relevant if you go for an air-cooling setup. There is a surprisingly good cooling ability with support for up to six 120mm fans and large radiators too. One 120mm fan is installed by default at the rear, three 120mm fans can be mounted on the front, and another two can be mounted on the PSU shroud.

The large CPU cutout should make cooler installation easy and there are plenty of cable routing options. We don’t see the rubber grommets usually found in higher-end cases, but costs have to be cut somewhere to offer an ATX-sized chassis with these options at such a low price. It will still allow you to build a great looking and clean system.

Other than the seven rear expansion ports, the chassis offers two external 5.25-inch bays, but they share the space with the top fan mounts, so it is an either or there. You can install two 2.5-inch drives as well as two 3.5-inch drives, so you won’t run out of storage anytime soon. Especially not if you couple that with M.2 or PCIe storage options.

You also get two front-faced USB 3.0 ports, a headphone jack, and a microphone jack for easy connectivity. Overall, a nice package for a low cost. Speaking of costs, the Silentium PC Regnum RG1 with an MSRP inc. VAT that’s only set to 31.00 EUR or 23.90 GBP. The US price, excl tax, is set to $27.50.

Would you consider a low budget chassis like the Regnum RG1 with all its features in your next build, or will you rather go for a more premium-styled chassis?

ASUS Travelair N Wireless 1TB Hard Disk Review

Introduction


When it comes to storage you can either go the ordinary and boring route, or you can opt for something that breaks with the norm with more features than you would expect. I’m taking a closer look at ASUS’ Travelair N today which is a portable USB 3.0 hard disk drive that also works wirelessly with a built-in access point, comes with an SD card reader built-in, and has One-Touch NFC capabilities on top of the 1TB storage capacity.

The ASUS Travelair N ‏(WHD-A2) is a 1TB portable USB 3.0 hard disk drive at heart and that in itself isn’t without. You can easily carry 500 movies, thousands of photos, songs, and files with you where ever you go. An ordinary portable drive has some limitations on the road, mainly the connection interface. What if you would like to access the drive from your mobile phone or tablet? What if you are far from a power outlet? Well, that is no problem with the Travelair N that comes with built-in wireless network capabilities and a battery.

Using the 2.4GHz band, the Travelair N can connect to pretty much any wireless devices available. It is compatible with IEEE 802.11b, g, and n-style connections which cover the entire spectrum of the wireless band. The antennas are internal, so you don’t need to worry about connecting them or breaking them off either. The Travelair N uses enterprise-level WPA2 wireless security to connect with your smart phone or tablet, ensuring all of your content is kept private and secure.

Not only does it come with built-in wireless capabilities, the drive also features a built-in 3300 mAh battery that is rated for up to 8-hours usage. This should be plenty of time until you’re near a charging ability again.

And no, ASUS didn’t stop here and added more features to this drive. The Travelair N supports NFC technology for instant one-touch connection to supported devices without any configuration needs. Simply touch your NFC-supported smart phone or tablet to the drive and you can browse your media library and files straight away.

The final feature of the drive itself is the built-in SD card slot that lets you back up your data from memory cards with simple steps. This is the perfect solution to empty the memory cards onto a larger storage medium and keep shooting those photos while you got the opportunity.

ASUS created the AiDrive companion app which is available on almost any platform: iPhone, iPad, Kindle Fire, or Android devices. The app features an intuitive user interface to let you quickly and easily view and share your photos, videos, and files.

The Travelair N can connect with up to five devices simultaneously when transferring files and up to three devices when streaming movies in HD quality. This allows you to easily share a single drive between multiple systems, devices, and people.

A portable drive needs to have a better resistance to environmental hazards and the Travelair N features an IP43-rated water-resistant design. This should guarantee a protection from accidental splashes and spills onto the drive.

With all the talk about USB 3.0 for PC connections and wireless for mobile devices, we shouldn’t forget that we also can connect a drive like this to all our other smart devices with USB or wireless capabilities, may they be gaming consoles, smart TVs, or something else.

Feature Highlights

  • One-Touch NFC for easy connection
  • Integrated SD Card reader expands storage capacity
  • Connect up to five devices simultaneously
  • Splash-proof design with IP43 water resistance
  • Intuitive, easy-to-use companion app

Package and Accessories

ASUS packed the Travelair N in a horizontal shaped box which is unlike most that come more square. That’s very fitting for a drive like this that is anything but ordinary. The front will let you know what you purchase in a simplistic design including features and capacity.

On the rear of the box, you find a lot more details to the different functions such as environmental protection, wifi, and NFC.

Inside the box was a USB 3.0 cable, a warranty card and safety notice as well as the quick start guide. Normally there would also be an AD/DC power adapter for charging purposes, but that was missing in my review sample.

SilverStone MMS01 Military-Grade USB 3.0 Enclosure Review

Introduction


If you are living an active lifestyle and still want to carry around your storage while keeping it protected the best way possible, then you need something other than a normal portable storage device. There are many rugged portable drives on the market by now and we’ve had a look at several of them already. But what if you already have a drive and want to turn that into a safe portable storage drive? Then you need something like SilverStone’s MMS01 military-grade USB 3.0 portable enclosure. Today I’m taking a closer look at how this works and how well it works.

SilverStone’s MMS01 is a thick protective enclosure that has been IP65 certified which makes it dust proof and water-resistant. The enclosure doesn’t stop there, it has been tested and proven to be immune or resistant to rapid temperature change, vibration, 1.2-meter drop, salt spray, sand, and fungal growth. You shouldn’t fully submerge a setup like this, but other than that your data’s drive is well secured.

Durability doesn’t mean that we need to sacrifice performance and the MMS01 is bound to show us some great numbers. Powered by the USB 3.0 bus and with UASP support, the only limitation is the 5 Gbps of the USB bus. The enclosure is equipped with a USB 3.0 type B port and the drive is backward compatible with USB 2.0 and 1.1. Thanks to the USB interface, we don’t require any extra drivers or anything and it will work as plug-and-play with both Windows and Mac OS systems.

Inside the enclosure there is room for a drive with a height of up to 9.5mm, allowing you to mount most 2.5-inch hard disk drives. Solid state drives with the thinner 7mm height aren’t a problem either and that is what I’ll be using in my tests today.

With a weight of just 280 gram, the MMS01 is a lightweight unit despite its great protection. This is an important factor when we deal with mobile drives as no one wants to carry unnecessary weight with them. If you are looking for an enclosure that can protect your drive in the harshest environment possible, the MMS01 might be the one to get.

Feature Highlights

  • Super speed USB 3.0 and SATA 6G interface
  • Supports 7mm or 9.5mm thick 2.5” SATA hard drives or SSD
  • Supports UASP (USB Attached SCSI Protocol) for additional performance
  • Unique anti-vibration silicone sleeve over ABS shell for complete protection
  • Adheres to US military standard (MIL-STD-810G) for thermal, drop, shock, humidity, sand, dust, and fungus resistance
  • Certified IP65 for dustproof and water resistance

Specifications

The specifications are taken directly from the manufacturers information and might as such be subject to changes in possible future revisions of the product.

Package and Accessories

The colour scheme on the package fits the military theme originating from the certifications and presents the enclosure well. The front has all the vital features presented for a quick and easy view.

The rear of the package contains more details information about the specifications and a multilanguage description.

Next to the enclosure itself, we find a USB cable, an Allen key to take the enclosure apart and mount the drive as well as a manual inside the package.

QNAP TAS-268 QTS and Android Combo NAS Review

Introduction


In today’s review, I am taking a look at a NAS that comes with a twist that we previously haven’t seen out-of-the-box. I’m talking about QNAP’s TAS-268 NAS which is a 2-bay hybrid NAS that runs both QNAP’s QTS and Android at the same time. The TAS-268 doesn’t just have a twist in the operating system, the physical form also takes a different approach than most NAS on the market.

At the core, the QNAP TAS-268 is a normal NAS with the function that you would expect from such a unit. It doesn’t come with the most power processor, but in return, it also comes with a low price tag despite all the functionality. It is built around an ARM 1.1 GHz dual-core processor and comes with 2GB DDR3 memory. It also features an onboard 4GB flash memory to be used by the Android system. While this doesn’t sound like much, it should be plenty for this device’s functions.

Besides this 2-bay unit, QNAP also released a 1-bay unit with the only difference being the number of drives you can install. But it is the 2-bay unit that we’re looking at today and it supports RAID 0, RAID 1, JBOD, and single disk setup with two 3.5-inch hard disk drives. There are plenty of external connection options on the TAS-268 with one Gigabit Ethernet RJ45 port, four USB 2.0 ports on the rear and one USB 3.0 port on the front.

The front also features an SD card slot for easy and portable storage connection just as you’re used to from your Android phone or tablet – just much easier. You don’t need to remove any covers and battery as it is the case with many phones, instead, you have the SD slot right at the front of the device where you need it.

To complete the convenience experience, QNAP also added the one-touch copy button which allows just what the name promised, copy the content from the front USB port with a single press of the button. How the button shall react can be changed in the QTS system and it is capable of copy operations in both directions, both to and from the USB drives.

With a NAS like this that supports Android, we also need an HDMI port in order to connect it to our monitor or TV and the TAS-2688 also features this on the rear. It is accompanied by four USB 2.0 ports that come in handy for keyboard, mouse, and game controller connection in order to take even better advantage of the Android platform and all the available apps. You can also control the system through the use of the included IR remote control. The TS-268 supports HD and 4K H.265 / H.264 file formats, 4K H.264 with up to 15 frames per second and 4K H.265 with up to 30 frames per second.

Shouldn’t you want to connect the device via HDMI or maybe you just want to get your stored and linked media files onto more devices then you can take advantage of the common DLNA streaming that QNAP also supports. Consoles, Smart TVs, Mini-PCs and much more support this and it is probably the easiest method of streaming content.

Google Play also provides various media apps including YouTube, TED, Twitch and other video apps to be used directly on the NAS. You can install and stream movies, cartoons, TV series, news, and sports at any time in order to enrich your entertainment level.

QNAP introduced their myQNAPcloud system quite a while ago by now and naturally the TAS-268 also supports this. It isn’t just a simple and effective way to set up your new NAS, it also allows you to connect to the finished setup much quicker and easier. By acting as a simplified and locked-in dynamic DNS system it will allow you to easily connect to your NAS, securely, from anywhere in the world and any device as long as you and the NAS both have internet connectivity.

With that in mind, it is incredibly easy to create you own personal cloud system where you don’t have to rely on commercial or free options that thousands of other people use. Keep your files at home where you know who has access and who doesn’t. It is a breeze to sync files to the NAS via QNAP’s own Qsync as well as the Cloud Drive Sync app from the QTS app center that can sync files with Google Drive and Dropbox.

Both real-time and scheduled backups on Windows systems as well as with Time Machine on Mac OS systems is easily taken care of with QNAP’s NetBak replicator and it also features disaster recovery solutions including RTRR, rsync, and cloud storage backup (Dropbox and Google Drive) are also included. So all the bases are covered.

As previously mentioned, you naturally also get the ordinary NAS cross-platform file sharing capabilities from a centralized data storage. Whether you use Linux, Unix, Windows, or Mac OS, your connection is covered. And with the use of apps you get the same connectivity on your Windows Mobile, Android, or iOS system.

So far I have mostly been talking about the software functionality, but that’s just one of the great aspects on this NAS. The design is quite a bit different than we are used with a vertical unit rather than a horizontal oriented. This saves space on the desk with a smaller footprint which can be a vital factor near your entertainment system and similar likely placement scenarios.

The TAS-28 is also a very light unit due to a simple and clever design. Even better, the entire NAS can be set up completely tool-less for your convenience. There is a single thumbscrew at the bottom with which you can open up the chassis and the drive are mounted tool-less too with the included adapters.

Despite having a unique outer design, a lot of the internal design is something that reminds us of previous 2-bay NAS units – just improved with the tool-less drive mounting options and vertical instead of horizontal.

With all this talk about Android, we shouldn’t forget about the base QTS operating system. It provides a web-based user interface to help you easily manage files on the TAS-268. You can install various apps based on your needs to fulfill tasks like storage, backup, management and multimedia applications. File Station allows you to upload, download and manage files anywhere with a web browser. All of your photos, music and videos can be indexed by the built-in Media Library, and easily managed and shared with the Photo Station, Music Station and Video Station. The energy-saving Download Station is your 24/7 download center, allowing you to quickly download files to enrich your collection.

Feature Highlights

  • Dual-core CPU
  • Android and QTS operating system
  • Organize & manage files and backup tasks in one centralized location
  • Synchronize files between computers, laptops, and mobile devices
  • Remotely access your files securely from your personal cloud
  • Stream your multimedia library via DLNA to other devices and your TV
  • Enjoy direct media playback via HDMI with HD videos and photos
  • Compact and streamlined chassis ideal for a desktop or living room environment

Packaging and Accessories

The TAS-268 comes in a simple white box with a representation of the NAS unit as well as the feature highlights.

The rear of the box contains some more information as to what’s so special about this NAS, but it’s kept short.

Opening up the box and we find a brand new NAS that is well protected with self-adhesive plastic film – you know the kind we all love to peel off once we get a new gadget.

Besides the NAS itself, there is a quick installation guide to help you get started quickly, a power supply brick and power cord fitting the region you bought it in as well as an RJ45 LAN cable.

There’s also a small remote control included that is about 3 inches long. Shown below are also the four HDD mounting brackets that simply snap into the drive and hold it in place.

Gigabyte Unveils EL-20-3700-32GB IoT Gateway Solution

Internet of Things, or IoT for short, is the next big thing in the digital revolution. To say it as simple as possible, IoT basically connects devices with each other and the internet in order to provide the data where it’s needed. We see a lot of new hardware being released in this sector and while some are completely new and independent, others bridge the gap between old-school legacy devices and the new IoT devices.

Gigabyte’s new EL-20-3700-32GB Intel Bear Ridge IoT Gateway Solution is just such a device as it will allow companies to connect sense, filters, process, analyzing and actuation while securing and managing machines and data. It supports onboarding, monitoring, diagnostics, and remote control of devices that otherwise would be unconnected.

It is built with an Intel Pentium N3700 Processor that is based on the Airmont microarchitecture and it’s Intel’s leading tri-gate 14nm process. The System on a Chip quad-core processor is designed to be very power effective and can drive both computing and graphics performance with a maximum power envelope of just 6W.

Besides the N3700 CPU, the EL-20-3700-32GB offers 32GB eMMC flash memory and two SO-DIMM DDR3 slots for up to 8GB 1600MHz memory. It sports two Gigabit Ethernet RJ45 ports powered by a Realtek RTL8111HS controller and four USB 3.0 ports. The two HDMI ports can handle resolutions up to 4K and the unit also features surround sound via a Realtek ALC255 controller.

Other options include one Full-size Mini-PCIe slot for 3G module or mSATA storage and one Half-size Mini-PCIe slot for the pre-installed WiFi+BT module. Speaking of which, the module is an Intel Dual-Band Wireless-AC 3160 which supports IEEE 802.11b/g/n/ac and Bluetooth 4.0.

Further, you’ll find an SDXC card slot and three user-configurable LEDs, and a micro-USB connector with OTG support. The full unit will be unveiled and presented at the Embedded World in Nuremberg in a couple of weeks.

Feature Highlights

  • Intel Pentium processor N3700
  • 2 x SO-DIMM DDR3L slots
  • 2 x GbE LAN ports (Realtek RTL8111HS)
  • 32GB onboard eMMC memory
  • 1 x mSATA slot
  • 1 x SDCX card slot
  • 1 x SIM card slot

Should you want to build the unit into a more enclosed space and not have it as a standalone unit, then Gigabyte also offers the motherboard on its own and the IoT board can be found under the product name MZBSWFP.

The Gigabyte EL-20-3700-32GB will be available at AVnet after it has been officially launched at Embedded World.

EVGA Introduces GeForce GTX 980 Ti VR Edition

Virtual Reality is the new thing for 2016 as there is more than one VR device on its way. To pull this kind of hardware you need the rest of your hardware to play ball too, at least if you want the best possible experience. EVGA now released two new graphics cards that are the same except for the attached cooler. The new cards are called the EVGA GeForce GTX 980 Ti VR EDITION and come either with a reference cooler or the much beloved ACX 2.0+ cooler.

The new GTX 980 Ti VR EDITION is built around Maxwell architecture and comes with 6GB GDDR5 memory and 2816 CUDA cores, much like any other GTX 980 Ti card. The difference with this one is that one of the HDMI ports have been moved to the other end of the card and thereby acts as an internal connector rather than a rear one.

What might look silly at first does have its reason as the VR EDITION comes with an included 5.25-inch drive bay. This unit offers you a front HDMI 2.0 port that will be connected to the internal one on the graphics card as well as two USB 3.0 ports. The idea behind this is to give you easy access for connecting and disconnecting your VR device and input devices used at the same time.

EVGA didn’t reveal a pricing or availability at this time, but we can expect it to be priced very similar to existing GTX 980 Ti cards and with a slight premium added for the extra functionality.

 

Key Features

  • Built for VR: Included 5.25-inch Drive Bay with Front HDMI 2.0 and USB 3.0.
  • Internal HDMI: Connects to a 5.25” Drive Bay, no visible external wires!
  • ACX 2.0+ Cooling: EVGA’s latest cooling solution offers improved cooling, reduced fan noise and better overclocking.
  • 6GB of GDDR5 Memory: Gives you access to higher texture qualities in games, improved 4K gaming performance and optimized for the next generation of gaming.

ASUS Announces RP-AC68U Wireless Repeater

Even with the best of routers, you can run into trouble with insufficient coverage on your wireless networks and that is where repeaters come into play. Mostly we see small repeaters that plug directly into the wall socket and aren’t much bigger than a socket and switch put together, but ASUS’ latest repeater dubbed the RP-AC68U breaks with that norm.

The newly presented ASUS RP-AC68U is a dual-band wireless AC1900 repeater shaped like a pillar and with a list of advanced functions that make it stand out even more from the crowd. The stylish RP-AC68U features four internal high-performance antennas (3 transmit, 4 receive) and allows users to easily extend coverage of an existing 802.11ac Wi-Fi network with fast speeds of up to 1900Mbps.

The rear of the wireless repeater shows just how much this repeater goes out of the norm as it comes with five Gigabit Ethernet LAN ports built-in as well as a USB 3.0 port for connecting storage devices to your network. The USB port supports ASUS AiCloud and can act with simple NAS functionality and as your own personal cloud server with apps available for both iOS and Android devices. The RP-AC68U can also be used in Access Point mode to add ultra-fast Wi-Fi convenience to any existing wired network.

The illuminated red accents can be turned on or off by a convenient touch sensor incorporated in the ASUS logo on the front and the installation and setup is just as easy. The repeater features a simple one-touch setup with WPS and it has LED signal strength indicators for both bands. This allows you to easily find the optimal placement for the repeater.

Pricing and availability are yet to be announced. It surely won’t be the cheapest repeater on the block, but it also provides a lot more functionality than we’re used to from such devices. It is as close as it can be to a router without being one.

QNAP SilentNAS HS-251+ 2-Bay Passive-Cooled NAS Review

Introduction


The first NAS that I reviewed after I joined eTeknix was QNAP’s amazing HS-251 NAS, so it is a real pleasure today as I have the upgraded model in the testing area. I will take QNAP’s SilentNAS HS-251+ for a thorough spin in my testing area and check on its performance as well as show you the latest version of the QTS operating system that was released recently.

The HS-251+ NAS retains the same basic design that provides you with a completely silent NAS. There are no fans or other parts that can generate any noise apart from the storage drives you’ll be using. This design adds another bonus which is a dust-free inside. This is made possible because the entire chassis is used as a heatsink for the entire unit and inserted drives. There are no fans to draw dust and other unwanted dirt into the system. That makes it very easy to maintain, but it also means that it should be placed on top of a shelve rather than in a tight spot where it could have trouble getting rid of the excess heat.

QNAP’s HS-251+ is powered by a quad-core Intel Celeron processor and while some might take a step back here, it’s a great chip for the system. You get four cores that run at 2.0GHz and with a burst speed up to 2.4GHz, it consumes very little power, which also helps with the cooling, and it has more than enough power to drive a system like this. The CPU is backed by 2GB DDR3L RAM and the NAS has a 512MB DOM for the basic system.

Whether you want to mount 2.5-inch or 3.5-inch drives, the HS-251+ can take both. We only got two bays at our disposal here, so most people will probably choose the larger 3.5-inch drives that provide up to 8TB capacity for consumers at the time of writing. Smaller 2.5-inch drives do however run more silently and it produces less heat, so it’s something that is worth to consider in a system like this. The drive bays themselves are hidden behind a removable front that further helps to keep dust out while it also gives the NAS a sleeker appearance.

Connection wise we find two USB 3.0 ports and two USB 2.0 ports next to the two RJ45 Gigabit Ethernet ports. Sadly none of the ports are located on the front or front end of the sides, but it isn’t a big issue with a flat NAS like this. You can easily both reach and view behind the unit. The NAS supports both printer and storage sharing through the built-in USB ports and over the network, which is a thing that can make the household IT-setup a lot easier.

You can also expand the HS-251+ through the use of QNAPs expansion enclosures UX-800P and UX-500P with 8 and 5 drives respectively. This can provide you with up to 80TB raw storage capacity in the HS-251+ using 8TB drives.

Next to those more normal connections, the QNAP HS-251+ also has an HDMI port from which you can connect it directly to your TV and use it for media playback and even run other operating systems in a virtual environment directly from the NAS. The QNAP QvPC technology is awesome and I’ll be showing you some of those features on the following pages. The HDMI connectivity supports 1080p video playback and the NAS also comes with hardware transcoding capability, making the HS-251+ is an ideal companion at home for multimedia entertainment.

Included with the QNAP HS-251+ is also a remote control that makes the usage from the couch a lot easier, more convenient, and in a fashion one is used to from TVs, DVRs, CD players, etc. With this, it is easy to control the playback and navigate the menus without the hassle of a keyboard and mouse.

The newest QNAP operating system, QTS 4.2, brings an even smoother experience than the predecessors with its flat and modern design. QNAP have streamlined loading times and added an intelligent desktop and multi-window operation that makes controlling every aspect of your HS-251+ fully accessible and easy to use.

It’s easy to centralize your all your files and backups in one place with this NAS, as it allows you to create backup jobs to and from the NAS, sync with computers, tablets, and mobile devices as well as the cloud. The real-time and offline HD video transcoding allows smooth playback of all your files no matter what the connection is like and file formats that might not be supported.

You naturally also get all the other great features such as the headless 24/7 download center, surveillance station with up to 40 channels, official mobile apps for all key functions and management, app center with official and third-party apps to increase the functionality even more, alert functions via SMS and Email services, web server, FTP server, Radius server, VPN server, print server, Plex media server, and much more.

The QNAP HS-251+ also supports the Qsirch function that is a QNAP exclusive. It is one of the best search function available that will find anything that you’re looking for on your NAS with ease and a lot faster than any traditional method will. Simply type in as much as you know about what you are trying to find, including bits of the file name or even words/phrases in the document, and Qsirch will display a list of matches, complete with thumbnails, as you type.

Feature Highlights

  • Dual-core CPU with hardware encryption engine
  • Your personal cloud with centralized management, file storage, sharing and backup
  • Real-time & offline HD video transcoding for your mobile devices, PCs, and Smart TVs
  • Supports file synchronization between multiple devices to have most up-to-date files
  • Modern set-top design for your digital lifestyle
  • Storage is expandable through extra units

Packaging and Accessories

QNAP’s HS-251+ comes in a plain brown box with a sticker that shows us what is inside. We get all the details we need on the sticker itself, from hardware specifications to features, so it has everything it needs to have.

Next to the NAS itself, we find a Quick Installation guide, the remote control, a power adapter and power cable from the region where it has ben bought as well as two RJ45 LAN cables inside the box.

ADATA Launches HD650X and HD710M USB 3.0 Hard Drives

We already had a little view on ADATA’s new drive line-up during our visit at CES 2016 in Vegas last month and now two of the new portable drives have been officially launched. The two new drives are both from the rugged series and can withstand quite a bit of mistreatment. The two newly launched drives are the HD650X designed for use with the Xbox 360 and Xbox One as well as the HD710M camouflage-styled drive.

The Xbox One currently ships with a 1TB hard drive built-in, but considering the fact that a game these days easily take up 50GB and subscribers keep getting games for free, that 1TB can quickly end up full and leave you with the decision on what to delete to make room for something else. That is where the ADATA HD650X comes into play as it adds 2TB extra storage directly to the gaming console via the USB 3.0 port. The colour scheme has also been made to match the console with its green and black. Being that this basically is a normal USB drive, it’s also compatible with Windows XP and newer as well as Mac OS X 10.6 or later and Linux Kernel 2.6 or later.

The ADATA HD710M is designed for general usage and comes in two capacity options: 1TB and 2TB. The camouflage coloured enclosure is made from the same concept that we’ve seen in previous models such as the HD720 that we recently reviewed. It is waterproof, dustproof, and shockproof to keep all your data as safe as possible. It doesn’t just have the basic IP6X cerification, but also the IPX8 and the US Army MIL-STD-810G 516.6 certification. These in combination allow the drive to be completely dust proof, extremly drop and shock resistant, and waterproof in up to 1.5 meters of water for an hour without damage to your drive or data.

ADATA didn’t reveal an official pricing, but you can expect these new drives to have a similar price to the other rugged ADATA HD drives already on the market.

Synology Releases DiskStation DS216+ 2-Bay NAS

Synology officially released the DiskStation DS216+ which is the direct successor to the DS215+ and a NAS unit that I’m sure a lot of people have been looking forward to. The new DiskStation DS216+ has it all and looks like it is a solid server with great features.

The DiskStation DS216+ is built with an Intel Celeron N3050 dual-core CPU that has built-in AES-NI hardware encryption engine among other things. The CPU is backed by 1GB DDR3 memory and the system can provide excellent encrypted data transfer performance at over 113 MB/s reading and 109 MB/s writing. Another really cool feature is the real-time capabilities to transcode H.264 4K Ultra HD video. The DS216+ can handle one channel 4K transcoding or three channels with Full-HD transcoding at the same time. When coupled with the ability to utilize DVB-T/DVB-S sticks and the record function, you got everything you need in relation to media in one place. The Video, Audio, and Photo Stations offer all the media features you need and it also supports DLNA and AirPlay, and even Bluetooth and wireless transmission with the use of dongles.

The DiskStation DS216+ has most things when it comes to hardware and software. The LEDs on the front have an adjustable brightness as well as schedule abilities. There is a USB 3.0 port with one-touch copy button, two USB 2.0 ports, a Gigabit Ethernet connection, and a feature that I personally love to see, an eSATA port. The drives are hot-swappable and feature Synology’s screw and tool-less installation. The 92mm cooling fan located at the rear should also make sure that the NAS works as flawless under controlled temperatures and does so as silent as possible.

Besides the full setup of backup, restore, cloud, and other features that we love from Synology’s DiskStation Manager operating system, the DS216+ also introduces the Btrfs file system. Btrfs has advantages over EXT4 and comes with built-in data integrity check, more flexible Shared Folder/User Quota systems, advanced snapshot technology with a customizable backup schedule that allows for up to 64 copies of shared folder backups, and file or folder level data restoration. The Cloud Station with file versioning also reduces the storage consumption down to half when compared with the Ext4 file system.

So whether you need a full set of media capabilities, an easy backup solution, or business features such as Windows AD and LDAP, Windows ACL, Mail Server, VPN server, or Radius server, the DiskStation DS216+ has you covered. It is backed by a 2-year warranty and comes with an MSRP of £237.00 including VAT or €275.00 excluding VAT.

Feature Highlights

  • Dual-core CPU with AES-NI hardware encryption engine
  • Encryption performance at over 113 MB/s reading, 109 MB/s writing
  • Advanced Btrfs file system with built-in data integrity check
  • Single H.264 4K or triple Full HD video transcoding on the fly
  • Hot-swappable drive tray design for easy installation & maintenance
  • Brightness-adjustable front LED with schedule control
  • A versatile storage server for small offices

We can also spot a new feature within the product photos of this DS216+ NAS and while it is a feature that isn’t present yet, it should be on future models. At the first glance, the DS216+ looks like the previous  Synology 2-bay models. It does have the new power button and one-touch copy button with built-in LED feature, but there’s another thing hiding in plain sight on the front. There is an unused and covered slot on the front that judging from the size could be an SD Card slot. We’ve already seen Synology add an SD card slot to their RT1900ac router, so it wouldn’t be far-fetched that we could see that added to the NAS lineup too.

SilverStone PTS01 USB 3.0 Enclosure for NUC Review

Introduction


Intel’s NUC series of mini PCs as well as SilverStone’s lineup of Petit series are amazing and bring a lot of great hardware in a very tiny box. They do however have one problem for some people and that is the lack of storage upgradeability. A few of the NUCs have a 2.5-inch bay, but most only feature mSATA, M.2, and similar next generation form factors. That sets some limitations, but limitations are meant to be broken and SilverStone did that with their PTS01 external USB 3.0 storage enclosure that fits the NUC and Petit cases like a glove.

SilverStone designed the PTS01 specifically for the Intel NUC as the majority of the NUC motherboards only support mSATA in order to reduce the dimensions. Where basic and small is great for the one, the other wants a little more. The PTS01 easily stacks with the NUC and Petit series chassis and it can even be placed between the NUCs and their mounting positions such as behind monitors. That way you don’t increase the footprint of your system, at least if you got a little more space behind your monitor.

You can mount a 2.5-inch hard disk or solid state drive with a maximum height of 9mm in the SilverStone PTS01. It is fully SATA III and USB 3.0 compatible with backward compatibility on both sectors. This could truly be the perfect and most convenient way to expand the storage of your NUC system.

The PTS01 is made from aluminum and steel which makes it sturdy and also helps with the cooling of the drive you mount inside. The tiny chassis measures just 122mm by 108mm by 15mm and it weighs just 125-gram thanks to the choice of material.

The SilverStone PTS01 storage enclosure is very simple on its own as it’s just a two-piece enclosure held together by eight screws and containing a small PCB at one end. On the PCB, you can see the USB 3.0 port and the activity LED to the right and we also spot the ASMedia ASM1153E USB 3.0 to Serial SATA bridge chip. The ASM1153E supports UASP for even better transfer speeds and a larger command queue. The enclosure did however not register as UASP device on my Windows 8 Pro system.

Feature Highlights

  • SuperSpeed USB 3.0 with 5Gbps
  • Supports Intel NUC cases
  • Supports SATA3 2.5” SSD/HDD x 1
  • Robust aluminum and steel body construction

Specifications

Package and Accessories

The simple black box has a premium feel over it thanks to the full-colour print, although you probably won’t look much at the box after you unpacked the enclosure. It also showcases the product itself and the main features right on the front.

The rear of the box has all the specifications themselves and a small image showcasing the usage directly connected to a Petit case.

Inside the box you find the enclosure itself along with a USB connection cable and all the screws you need to mount a drive inside as well as mount it to the NUC or Petit chassis.

Lexar Releases A Bunch of New Flash Products

Lexar released a bunch of new flash-based products and we naturally also want to update you on these. While HDDs are the go-to medium for NAS and SSDs for the PC systems, we shouldn’t forget about our portable storage and mobile devices.

The drive pictured above is the first of Lexar’s new flash drives and it is actually an SSD, just an external one. We have previously reviewed Lexar’s Professional Workflow SSD in the same form factor and that is compatible with the Workflow drive dock system, and this new Lexar Portable SSD is compatible to that system too despite not being from the Professional Workflow series.

The compact and durable drive reads with up to 450MB/s and writes with up to 245MB/s, making it quick and easy to take your files on the go. The LEDs on the front work as capacity meter and the drive is available as 256GB and 512GB models. Since it’s a full-fledged SSD, the drive supports NTFS, FAT, and exxFAT without any trouble. The Lexar Portable SSD will be available in Q1 2016 with MSRPs of £120.99 (256GB) and £200.99 (512GB), a more than fair price.

The second new Lexar product is the 1800x microSD card with impressive speeds that hold up to even the most demanding tasks. The Lexar 1800x is available as 32GB, 64GB, and 128GB models and it leverages Ultra High Speed II (U3 technology) to provide you with the best experience. The card is capable of speeds up to 270MB/s read speeds and is designed for high-speed capture of extended lengths of 4K, 3D, and 1080p full-HD video and high-quality images.

Lexar’s Professional 1800x microSD UHS-II cards are already available with an MSRP of £65.99 (32GB), £109.99 (64GB), and £219.99 (128GB).

The next new Lexar product is quite ingenious. Whether you’ll want to call it a 3-in-1 drive or an Apple Lightning charging cable with built-in flash storage, you’d be right. The JumpDrive C20i is all that and also a USB 3.0 flash drive at the same time, completing the 3-in-1 scenario. The drive can read with up to 95 MB/s and write with up to 20 MB/s for easy expansion of your iPhone or iPad memory. The new JumpDrive C20i flash drive will be available in Q1 of 2016 and have MSRPs of £28.99 (16GB), £39.99 (32GB), £56.99 (64GB), and £79.99 (128GB).

The last new Lexar drive is a little more traditional and it is called the JumpDrive S45. The tiny nano-styled drive is designed for a plug-and-stay setup with its low profile. It is capable of speeds up to 150MB/s reading and 45MB/s writing and be available in capacities up to 128GB. An impressive capacity for a nano-drive. Depending on the capacity, the JumpDrive S45 comes in different colours: Orange, Blue, Teal, and black. Along with the JumpDrive S45, you also get the EncryptStick Lite software for 256-bit AES encryption of your content. The flash drive has MSRPs of £7.99 (16GB), £10.99 (32GB), £18.99 (64GB), and £28.99 (128GB) and will be available in Q1 2016.

Synology Releases Affordable yet Powerful DS416j 4-Bay NAS

Synology has released quite a few new NAS lately and we’ve also reviewed multiple of them, but they got more waiting for customers that want to enter the world of NAS or upgrade their current solution. The newest member of the Synology family is the DS416j, a powerful yet affordable 4-bay NAS.

Synology’s DS416j is equipped with an Armada 388 Dual Core processor with 1.3GHz and it comes with 512 MB DDR3 memory. The Armada 388 should deliver plenty of power for this NAS and it also comes with built-in hardware encryption engine. Thanks to the choice of hardware, the DS416j is capable of serving you files with 112.82 MB/s when reading and 101.2 MB/s when writing. Encryption naturally takes some resources, but the DS416j is still capable of a performance around 50MB/s when reading and 37MB/s when writing. That is an increase of 58% in encrypted file transfers compared to its predecessor model.

The DS416j NAS comes with adjustable LED indicators for status, network, and all four hard disk drives. You can switch between four levels of brightness and also put them on a schedule where you turn them off when they aren’t needed. You get a single Gigabit Ethernet RJ45 connection as well as a USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 port on the rear of the unit. It sadly doesn’t have a front USB port, but we also have to remember that this is a budget device and it most likely won’t be the deal breaker for anyone.

Naturally Synology added their well known and great operating system DSM that will provide you will all the features you want and a lot more on top of that. You get easy cross-platform file sharing and synchronizing, download features, apps for playback and streaming of all sorts of media to DLNA and smart devices, as well as comprehensive backup solutions.

Synology targets home and personal users who seeks to get a massive storage capacity where they can build their own personal cloud or serve as a multimedia server. At the same time it targets those who either don’t have a big budget or just don’t want to spend a lot on their next NAS. Four-bay NAS units tend to be quite expensive, but the DS416j comes with a recommended retail price of just £220, and that already includes the VAT.

Asus and Razer Releasing Graphics Card Enclosures for Laptops

Asus and Razer are both releasing graphics card enclosures in 2016, bringing desktop GPU power to laptops via a Thunderbolt or USB 3.0 connection. The ROG XG Station 2 from Asus and Razer’s Core enclosures were unveiled at CES last week, PCGamesN reports, and both provide an alternative to bulky gaming laptops – that alternative being an even bulkier unit, comparable in size to a mini PC –  hot on the heels of Alienware’s Titan X-powered Graphics Card Amplifier.

The Asus ROG XG Station 2 is “a custom interface that lets notebooks harness the power of desktop graphics cards to significantly boost gaming performance,” according to the company’s press release (via PC World). While the ROG XG Station 2 is “specifically designed for Asus laptops and graphics cards,” it works with other systems and cards and uses PCI-E x4 across two Thunderbolt 3.0/USB Type-C connections.

The Razer Core, meanwhile, has a 500w power supply, which can power most any high-end graphics card, with four USB 3.0 ports to both provide power and pass through data to a laptop, plus an Ethernet port, according to PC Gamer. Its Thunderbolt connector supports up to 40Gb/s bandwidth.

Neither Asus nor Razer have announced the price or release dates for their respective graphics card enclosures.

Would you like the option to be able to turn your laptop into a gaming rig, or are you happy relying on your desktop PC?

Synology DiskStation DS416 4-bay High-Performance NAS Review

Introduction


I’ve taken a look at quite a few 2-bay NAS units lately and while they already allow for an impressive 16TB raw storage, that might not be enough for everyone. Today I’m taking Synology’s DiskStation DS416, a 4-bay feature-rich and high-performance NAS server, for a spin on my test bench. The Synology DiskStation DS416 is built around an Annapurna Labs Alpine AL-212 32-bit dual-core CPU with 1.4GHz, floating point unit, and hardware encryption engine. The CPU is backed by 1GB DDR3 memory that sadly isn’t upgradable.

The DS416 is a full-fledged NAS that comes with everything you’d want from a performance system. It features dual Gigabit Ethernet network that supports all types of failover and link aggregation, allowing you to keep your system connected under heavier load or when one connection should fail. The DS416 also features three USB 3.0 ports where one of them is conveniently placed on the front of the NAS for easy access.

With powerful hardware like that, the DS416 is able to deliver an average reading and writing speeds of 220 MB/s and 140 MB/s respectively while encrypted file transfers come in at an evenly impressive 146 MB/s reading and 65 MB/s writing. Those figures naturally depend on what hard disk drives you use as well as the method of data access and your network setup.

The drive bays feature a convenient tool-free drive installation for 3.5-inch drives where as you still need screws to mount 2.5-inch drives. The latter is a rare occurrence anyway and shouldn’t be anything to bother anyone. The drive bays are covered by a removable front plate that gives the NAS a cleaner overall look by hiding away the drives. The drive bays aren’t the only thing that you can swap out in this NAS, the fans are also redundant. The DS416 incorporates a passive cooling design on the actual components and only uses two 92mm fans on the rear to keep everything at an optimal temperature. When the system detects a fan failure, the built-in redundancy mechanism ensures continuous operation until the replacement fan arrives.

The DS416 is naturally powered by DiskStation Manager (DSM), the award-winning operating system from Synology. It has a beautiful and functional user interface and all the features you will need at home or in a small to medium-sized business. It offers all the network protocols you’d want including SMB2, AFP, NFS, WebDAV, and FTP. Server admins don’t need to worry about maintaining two set of user credentials either as the DS416 comes with both Windows AD and LDAP integration. An added convenience factor is the network recycle bin that is featured on AFP, CIFS, File Station, and WebDAV. All files deleted in a shared folder will be automatically moved into the Recycle Bin instead of being destroyed.

The DS416 isn’t just an all in one server when it comes to features, it also has the power to handle it. You can easily turn your DS416 into a mail server with webmail interface, set up a VPN server connect as a VPN client, create a print server for USB printers and much more such as Radius server, Proxy server, and Syslog server features.

Creating your own personal yet comprehensive cloud solutions is no problem either with the DS416 thanks to the Cloud Station package.It is the perfect package to sync files across multiple devices, perform offline edits and later synced them, and keep up to 32 historical versions for easy restoration. You also got all the normal backup features that you’ll want such as 2-way sync between different DiskSations as well as support for commercial cloud services such as Glacier Backup and HiDrive Backup.

The Synology DiskStation DS416 has a comprehensive security package, starting with AES 256-bit encryption but also more advanced setups like 2-step verification. It also comes with AppArmor that can block malicious programs from accessing unauthorized system resources and you can customize the trust level in the package center to only accept apps from certain publishers. The built-in firewall is another useful feature just as the Denial of Service (DoS) protection. Antivirus can also be downloaded and installed for that extra level of security. Overall, everything you need to keep your data safe from malicious code and people.

Synology also offers a row of mobile apps that you can use to easy connection and usage of your NAS from your mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones. The apps include DS note, DS audio, DS video, DS photo+, DS cloud, DS file, DS download and DS cam.

Feature Highlights

  • Dual-core CPU with hardware encryption engine
  • Dual LAN with failover and link aggregation support
  • Over 221.05MB/s reading, 139.51MB/s writing
  • Effective backup solution for all desktop and mobile devices
  • Front USB 3.0 for fast easy access
  • Hot-swappable & tool-less hard drive tray design
  • Running on Synology DiskStation Manager (DSM)

Packaging and Accessories

The Synology DS416 comes in a simple brown package with a sticker for model inside. It has all the relevant features presented as well as an image of the unit that is inside.

The rear of the box has a second sticker with some of the hardware highlights.

Inside the box, next to the NAS itself, you’ll find an AC adapter with power cable for the region where you purchased it, two RJ45 LAN cables, screws for use with 2.5-inch drives, and a Welcome and Quick Installation Guide. Everything you need to get it setup and I like that Synology included two LAN cables so users can get port trunking up and running right away.

Synology Router RT1900ac High-Speed Wireless Router Review

Introduction


Synology has a long experience producing network attached storage and surveillance devices so it was just a matter of time before they expanded into more similar areas. They got the knowhow and the expertise to do so and today I’m taking a closer look at their first router, the Synology Router RT1900ac Wireless Gigabit Ethernet router.

Let us first have a look at the basic hardware specifications. The Synology RT1900ac is built around a powerful dual-core CPU with a 1GHz clock speed and it comes with 256MB DDR3 memory. The dual-band 802.11ac wireless router can transfer with up to 1300 Mbps on the 5GHz band and up to 600 Mbps on the 2.4GHz band. It is equipped with three external and replaceable MIMO omni-directional high-gain dipole antennas with 3.5 dBi for the 2.4GHz band and 4.6 dBi for the 5GHz band.

With a hardware base like that, you don’t need to worry about lags or bottlenecks. The RT1900ac has four Gigabit Ethernet LAN ports and one Gigabit Ethernet WAN port, all located on the rear in-between the three antenna mounts. The RT1900ac features a power button which is a nice thing to see on a router and while it isn’t a feature that is used a lot, it is great to have when needed.

Both the wired and wireless network connections will benefit from Synology’s bandwidth prioritization and network traffic control system that allows you to prioritize the important traffic such as your games. After all, you will always want to have the lowest latency that will give you that extra edge on the virtual battlefield. But that doesn’t mean that the Synology RT1900ac only is good for gaming, it is also awesome for streaming. You can enjoy buffer-free playback of your 4K movies when streaming them to your media devices around the house.

You don’t even need other devices in order to stream your favourite movies, shows, or music to your smart TVs and audio systems as the RT1900ac is DLNA compatible and comes with both a USB 3.0 and an SD card slot. You can also use it to stream from other network storage locations should you not want to use the direct storage features.

The access to connected devices isn’t just limited to media streaming. You can share any files on a USB storage drive or SD card (SDXC) via the Synology RT1900ac and access the contents from anywhere as well as share files with family, friends, and coworkers. The RT1900 supports all the common protocols such as SMB, AFP, FTP, or WebDAV. Whether you use a Windows PC, a Mac, an Android, or an iOS device, you’ll have access to it all.

As mentioned, Synology has quite some experience within the network area and they naturally created a great operating system for their new router. The new operating system is called Synology Router Manager (SRM) and it includes both basic and advanced tools such as VPN support, RADIUS server, and more.

The operating system is very similar to DSM, Synology’s NAS operating system, and comes with the same user-friendly interface and multi-task abilities. You can also go beyond the basic and pre-installed features and download more functions through the Package Center. Transform your router into a personal VPN server, professional RADIUS authentication server, 24/7 download hub or make it into your multimedia hub. The choice is yours.

We have seen two out of four sides on the new Synology Router RT1900ac so far and below is the third side where we also find features to highlight – there is something everywhere on this router. On this side we find a button to turn the Wi-Fi completely off and back on again for when it isn’t needed. There is a growing concern among some people who fear that exposure to wireless signals of all sort can affect us and those people, and everyone else too, have the ability to easy switch the wireless signals on and off depending on when they are needed.

Next to the Wi-Fi on-off switch we find the WPS button for easy connectivity between the router and other devices. A simple touch of the button on both devices and they will pair with each other and establish a connection. No need to search for the correct Wi-Fi network among all the possible ones and no need to enter any complicated passwords.

There is one more thing that I haven’t shown you yet and that is located right on the front of the router, around the corner from the USB port and SD card slot, and it is the one button that I have been missing on every single device with these ports since they came into existence. A hardware eject button. Simply press the button and the operating system will safely unmount the drive and make it ready for safe ejection. This is so much easier than having to log into an administration interface just to press a button to eject the drive.

Now that we’ve seen what the Synology Router RT1900ac is all about, it is time to mount the antennas and get a closer look at them. The squared antennas look out of the norm and fit well with the router. Synology also added smart Beamforming technology that lets the RT1900ac focus wireless signals toward up to six simultaneous devices and thereby increase the range, reduce the latency, and economize the power consumption.

Synology packed the Router RT1900ac with quite a few great features such as application layer quality of service (QoS) that lets you see how much bandwidth is consumed by individual applications and devices and then lets you restrict the amount of bandwidth the device or application is allowed to use. It also comes with parental controls such as time scheduling for individual devices as well as intelligent and manual web filtering.

Synology also added support for their QuickConnect service which makes remote control and access as easy as the local. Just register a unique and customizable QuickConnect ID, and you’ll to be able to log in to Synology Router Manager, access connected storage devices, and do much more from anywhere with an Internet connection.

Packaging and Accessories

Synology packed the RT1900ac in a simple brown box which is all that is needed. It has a sticker on the front showcasing the router itself and its feature highlights.

The rear side of the box has another sticker with a few more details and the device’s specifications and usage scenario as well as what the package contains.

Inside the package is a power adapter with connection options for the region where you purchased the device, in this case there is a UK and a slim-EU plug included. There are also three high-gain antennas and the extra stand in case you should want to have it in an upright position.

SP Launches Secure G50 With AES 256-Bit Full Disk Encryption

Silicon Power’s newest flash drive is designed for those users who need just a little extra security and in this case that little bit isn’t even that little. The newly launched Secure G50 Flash Drive uses the USB 3.0 bus for optimal connectivity and it comes with a great AES 256-bit full-drive encryption feature.

The Secure G50 flash drive comes with three layers of defense to enhance your data safety. The first is the above named AES 256-bit hardware-based encryption technology. That is coupled with the second layer which is the password protection function that enables the drive to auto lock-down and format itself after several failed login attempts by a malicious user. The third layer is software based in the form of Silicon Power’s data management software called SP Widget. The software features file encryption, cloud storage, backups, and restores for that extra bit of safe keeping in case you should lose your Secure G50 or it becomes damaged and simply doesn’t work anymore.

The Secure G50 drive works as it is and it doesn’t require any additional drivers or software except what it can carry and pre-load itself, so there is no need to keep drivers or software at hand to use it in a foreign system. It is officially compatible with both Windows and Mac OS, but Linux and Unix-based operating systems shouldn’t be a problem either.

Silicon Power’s Secure G50 is now available in 8GB, 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB capacities which should suit most basic needs. The drive is also backed by a five-year warranty in case the worst should happen.

SP Secure G50 Features and Specifications

  • AES 256-bit hardware-based full disk encryption
  • Set up password easily, and access your data after entering the password
  • Auto lock-down and reformat after 10 intrusion attempts
  • Pre-loaded program and no need to install a driver
  • Extra features such as data encryption, backups and cloud storage management
  • Capacity: 8GB, 16GB, 32GB, 64GB
  • Dimensions: 53.9 x 20.0 x 10.0 mm
  • Weight: 9.2 g
  • Interface: USB 3.0/ USB 2.0 Compatible
  • Supported operating systems:: Windows 10/8.1/8/7(SP1)/XP, MAC OS 10.7.x and later
  • Warranty: 5 years

ADATA HD720 Durable 1TB External Hard Drive Review

Introduction


People with an active lifestyle deserve to carry their storage around with them just as well as clumsy people do, but they should pick their portable storage with care and make sure that it can withstand the treatment it will get. Today I’m taking a closer look at just such a storage drive as I’m having ADATA’s HD720 ultra durable external hard drive with a sporty design on and off the test bench.

The ADATA HD720 is available in three capacity versions, 500GB, 1TB, and 2TB. Today I’m taking a closer look at the 1TB model and will test both its performance on my benchmark system as well as its durability with some clumsy but calculated actions. The HD720 is dustproof, waterproof, and shock resistant for an excellent data protection even when the worst case scenario should happen.

The drive has passed the stringent IP68 test thanks to its durable design. The HD720 even works normally in dusty environments as well as after being submerged in up to 2-meter deep water for up to 2 hours. The HD720 also passed the standard military-grade requirement (MIL-STD-810G 516.6) and even went beyond that and passed the 1.8m drop test.

This is all thanks to the rugged enclosure that the drive is built into. Deep inside the HD720 is a 2.5-inch sized HDD that first of all is cushioned mounted on its own. Next it is covered by a plastic shock structure followed by a special silicon layer that in combination provide the drive with its resilience. The HD720 also features a G-Shock sensor that flashes red when the drive should register a severe shock. When the shock has passed, a solid or flashing blue light displays indicating normal operation has resumed.

A portable drive also needs to be convenient. Thanks to the use of a 2.5-inch HDD you don’t need any extra power supply, the drive can draw enough power directly from the USB connection. The included cable can’t be static attached either or the drive would lose some of its durability. ADATA made a wrap around design on the HD720, allowing you to tug the drive into the groves on the edge of the drive – that at the same time give the drive an even better protection from a side impact.

There are three color choices on the HD720, either blue and black, green and black or completely black. ADATA backs this 211gram light drive with a 3-year warranty.

Feature Highlights:

  • Up to 2TB capacity
  • Dust, Water, and Shock-proof
  • USB 3.0 connection.
  • Cable wrap-around
  • Passed IP68 and MIL-STD-810G 516.6
  • G-Shock Sensor

Packaging

ADATA packed their durable HD720 in a white cardboard box that has a window to view the actual drive inside. The front highlights the capacity as well as safety features that it comes with.

The rear of the box has a little more information about the specifications in multiple languages as well as details on the waterproof, dustproof, and shockproof capabilities.

Inside the box is the drive wrapped with a USB 3 connection cable and a quick start guide should you need that.

SilverStone Release MMS01 Military-Grade External 2.5-inch Enclosure with USB 3.0

Rugged hard disk drives that can withstand drops, water, and dust is nothing new on the market, but they’re getting more and more popular as people need more storage despite their active lifestyle. SilverStone has now released a new enclosure called the MMS01 that allows you to create a protective storage solution with any 7mm or 9.5mm thin 2.5-inch drive.

The SilverStone MMS01 is a military-grade external 2.5-inch enclosure with USB 3.0 connectivity. It has a thick protective cover for your drive and has been certified for the IP65 standard against dust and water. But it doesn’t stop there, the MMS01 has also proven to be immune or resistant to rapid temperature change, vibration, 1.2-meter drop, salt spray, sand, and fungal growth.

The SilverStone MMS01 doesn’t sacrifice performance for its MIL-STD-810G and IP65 certifications because it doesn’t have to. Inside is a bridge controller chip that supports UASP for the best possible USB 3.0 connection with improved access times and data transfers.

Feature Highlights

  • Super speed USB 3.0 and SATA 6G interface
  • Supports 7mm or 9.5mm thick 2.5” SATA hard drives or SSD
  • Supports UASP (USB Attached SCSI Protocol) for additional performance
  • Unique anti-vibration silicone sleeve over ABS shell for complete protection
  • Adheres to US military standard (MIL-STD-810G) for thermal, drop, shock, humidity, sand, dust, and fungus resistance
  • Certified IP65 for dust proof and water resistance

SilverStone’s newest drive enclosure, the MMS01, will be available from today for a suggested retail price of just $30.98 USD which isn’t much premium over other enclosures that don’t offer the extra rugged protection.