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!


 

How Many Idiots Will Plug Random USB Drives into Their Computer?

You’d have to be stupid to pick up a random USB drive off the ground and connect it into your PC, right? If the answer is yes (which it is), then there’s a whole lot of dunces out there wilfully putting their computer security at risk. A new study by researchers from the University of Illinois, the University of Michigan, and Google has revealed that at least half of people will pick up a foreign USD drive they find and use it.

As told in a paper titled “Users Really Do Plug in USB Drives They Find” [PDF], the researchers investigated “the anecdotal belief that end users will pick up and plug in USB flash drives they find by completing a controlled experiment in which we drop 297 flash drives on a large university campus.” The results found “that the attack is effective with an estimated success rate of 45–98% and expeditious with the first drive connected in less than six minutes.”

297 test USB drives were dropped at random locations around the University of Illinois’ Urbana Champaign campus. 98% of these drives were moved from their drop location, with 48% plugging them into their computers and opening the files stored on it.

“It’s easy to laugh at these attacks, but the scary thing is that they work—and that’s something that needs to be addressed,” lead researcher Matt Tischer told Vice Motherboard.

68% of those who used the USB drives admitted that they took no precautions when using the USB device when questioned afterwards.

“I trust my macbook to be a good defense against viruses,” said one of the USB users, while another confessed, “I sacrificed a university computer.”

Viruses should be the least people’s worries: last year, we reported on the Killer USBs, versions 1.0 and 2.0, a pair of flash drives designed to fry any computer into which it is plugged.

“There are no easy solutions to these problems, but they will certainly extend beyond simply the technical to include a deeper understanding of the social, behavioral, and economic factors that affect human behavior,” Tischer added. “There is a difference between warning users that a particular action is dangerous and convincing them to actually avoid it. We need to close that gap.”

Amazon Bans Bad USB Type-C Cables

Everyone knows about USB cables. Used for everything from transferring important information from one device to another to charging your devices, they are seen everywhere and the USB Type-C Cables are no exception. Some people were put off when a google engineer fried his Chromebook using a bad cable from Amazon, a move which has now made Amazon ban bad USB Type-C Cables from its site.

USB Type-C (also known as USB-C) is loved for many reasons, from their lack of orientation, no more finding if you’ve put the cable in the wrong way round on the third or fourth time, to the fact that both ends are identical, meaning that there is no right and wrong end, there is only the right ends!

USB-C are also twice as fast as USB 3.0, a standard that barely took off before people noticed USB-C’s popularity. With speeds of up to 10Gbps and the ability to output up to 20V(100W), the USB-C is quickly gaining favor to replace the variety of USB connections that came before it. Sadly with the recent interest in the connector, some people have taken to selling some not so great copies. Listed under their prohibited electronic listings, Amazon now ban any USB-C cable that can be described as:

Any USB-C (or USB Type-C) cable or adapter product that is not compliant with standard specifications issued by “USB Implementers Forum Inc.”

With the ability to report and have bad cables removed from the site, hopefully, fewer people will have to lose their precious devices to cut price and bad quality products.

USB Thief Infects ‘Air-gapped’ Computers And Leaves No Trace

Malware (short for malicious software) is a type of program that is intended to cause harm to a system, be it in the form of ransomware, like that which has hit several hospitals in the US, or just you generic popup creating malware. A new malware named USB Thief, looks to break the chain of common threats by hiding itself and infecting systems even when they aren’t connected to the internet.

The internet is a wonderful thing but the problem with everyone being able to share and talk to one another is that sending something nasty is as easy as clicking a button (or in some cases, the software even does this for you). USB Thief avoids this by working on USB sticks, the very same ones you use to send information to and from your computer to your parents or even your friends.

The software hides by only executing under a certain set of rules, that is using a key created from the original USB drive it was created for. Even when it does spread it uses a unique key created using the ID of the USB stick and the time, meaning that traditional attempts to copy and discover the malware fail when suddenly it has unknown hardware in the mix.

Not only does it mean it won’t always execute, breaking the common rule of repeated behaviour is traceable behaviour, but it doesn’t leave any evidence on the infected computer, meaning your data could be stolen and you wouldn’t even know it. USB Thief lives up to the second part of its name, with it at the moment only working to steal data, but Tomáš Gardoň, a malware analyst with antivirus provider Ese says that “it would not be difficult to redesign the malware to change from a data-stealing payload to any other malicious payload”.

By avoiding the internet and focusing on the more traditional method of using USB drives, the virus is able to infect systems similar to how Stuxnet worked, enabling it to infect ‘air-gapped’ system (those which aren’t connected to the internet). With the USB lock in place, only the original USB created by its designers can infect systems, meaning if you didn’t create the original you won’t be able to use it.

If that wasn’t enough the USB Thief’s developer seems to have done its homework as it only runs as part of a command from portable versions of legitimate applications like Notepad++ and Firefox. If you’re running Kaspersky Lab or G Data though you should be okay as the malware won’t install itself on your system, a feature that was no doubt down to results from some initial testing.

Gelid Zentree USB Charging Station Review

Introduction


As our lives increasingly revolve around portable and mobile devices – smartphones, tablets, wearables, and handheld gaming – so our homes become invaded by a tangle of accompanying cables. Thankfully, most devices – even with a proprietary connector on one end – are USB compatible, encouraging the rise of USB charging stations that can centralise the power needs of your many devices.

Unlike many other USB charging stations on the market, though, the Zentree from Gelid Solutions not only provides a single hub into which you can plug up to four devices, but also a series of nubs – the 3D Tree Array – covered by a removable green silicone rubber top, into which you can neatly stack your devices while they charge.

While the 3D Tree Array is the Zentree’s most visible identifier, the station’s real selling point is its Smart IC chip, which auto-negotiates the best power output for each device that is connected to it, and cuts off power to a device once its battery is full. Gelid boasts that the Zentree can charge four iPad Pros simultaneously in the same time it would take to charge one using the proprietary cable.

The Zentree has been specifically tested using Apple’s iPhones, iPads, and Apple Watch, a wide range of Android smartphones and tablets, plus the Pebble smartwatch, various Bluetooth headsets, and portable power banks. The kit includes four USB-to-Micro-USB cables, but any USB cable can be plugged into the four ports.

“Zentree provides a carefully designed docking surface, 3D Tree Array, which supports multiple gadgets of different sizes: iPhones, iPads, androids, tablets, phablets, smartwatches or really any other USB device. The top is made of a soft silicone rubber, it protects your smartphones and tablets from scratches and slip-off. The Smart IC, a core part of Zentree Charger Unit, auto-negotiates the best output charging power for your gadgets and ensures truly safe multi-device charging.” – Gelid.

Specifications

  • 4 Ports
  • 4A per Port
  • 48W total Power Output
  • Active Mode Efficiency: >87%
  • Dimensions (l)x(w)x(h): 224mm x 159mm x 95mm
  • Idle Power Consumption: 0.04W
  • Weight: 590g
  • Smart IC for Safe and Efficient Charging
  • Smart IC Auto-negotiates Best Charging Current for Your Device
  • Smart IC Auto Cuts Off Power when Battery is Full
  • Supports iPhones, iPads, Androids, Tablets, Phablets or Really any other USB Device
  • Individual Surge-protection
  • 3-Dimensional Tree Array
  • Non-scratching
  • Anti-slip
  • Seamless Cable Management
  • Eco-friendly Materials

Tested Devices

  • Samsung Galaxy Note 4
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1
  • PlayStation Vita
  • Poweradd Pilot X7 power bank

Packaging and Accessories

Our review sample of the Gelid Zentree arrived in a plain, unbranded box.

Upon opening the box – revealing the Zentree’s bright green 3D Tree Array poking out of the packaging – I must admit that I was a little daunted, having no idea what the product looked like before I began the review process.

The Zentree includes an IEC C8 power cable, four USB-to-Micro USB cables, and two hooks with adhesive pads on the back. I was happy to find that the USB cables are flat, which is great for preventing tangles.

Patriot Viper V360 PC Gaming Headset Review

Introduction


Patriot, a company better known for their high-end memory products are branching out into the gaming world. Today, we have the all new Viper V360 7.1 Virtual Surround Headset in the eTeknix office and given that it’s the first headset from Patriot, we’re certainly eager to see what it can do. Patriot hasn’t gone too crazy with this one, keeping to a budget-friendly end of the market that it’s sure to be easier for them to compete in, giving how fierce some of the more established brands dominate the premium end of the market; it makes sense to walk before you can run.

The Patriot V360 7.1 virtual surround sound gaming headset is designed to provide an enhanced PC gaming experience. Engineered with a closed back and ergonomic ear cups, the V360 blocks out environmental noise and fits comfortably over the ears to keep you relaxed and focused on your game longer. Experience Patriot’s revolutionary Ultra Bass Response (UBR) system; simply flip a switch to enable two powerful subwoofers and achieve even the lowest sound frequencies. Backed by Patriot’s award winning customer service and a two-year warranty the V360 is compatible with nearly every Windows operating system, including Windows 10 and Mac OS X, or higher.” – Patriot

Equipped with powerful 40mm Neodymium magnet drivers, as well as 30mm sub-drivers, a good quality omnidirectional microphone, and a 2.2 meter long braided USB cable, it’s certainly ticking all the right boxes for a good gaming headset. Let’s take a quick look at the Patriot product preview video and then we’ll move on and take a closer look.

A nicely designed box, with a clear image, the specifications and a side window for a sneaker look at the overall design.

While around the back, you’ll find a quick rundown of the main features, such as the UBR switch and LED lighting.

In the box, you’ll find a nice protective pouch for the headset, as well as a small envelope.

In the envelope, there’s a product guide, quick start guide, and a few cool stickers; nothing too crazy, but it’s always nice to have a few small extras.

Data Leak Reveals 22,000 ISIS Members

In history there is a tale as old as time, no matter how large something gets, no matter what happens, when they start to perform questionable acts it will always be someone on the inside that will address the situation by letting everyone know about it. We’ve already seen with Edward Snowden revealing the extent that America was spying and retaining information illegally on people from all over the world. The same reason has now revealed 22,000 ISIS members details.

A defector from the group alleges to have carried with him a USB drive containing more than your average backup of files. TheUSB is claimed to have details of 22, 000 ISIS fighters, including:

  • Name
  • Phone Number
  • Hometown
  • Blood Type

The paperwork it apparently contains is reported to be filled out before fighters come to the country, therefore representing foreign fighters coming to the group from abroad. The paperwork included questionnaires filled out by members of ISIS, including information regarding how they were recruited and would get to the group from their location, bypassing the restrictions and warning systems currently in place.

Currently, agencies around the world are trying to track down and confirm that this information is genuine, but if it does prove to be real information then this could help agencies track down recruiters and start cutting off access to the group from their countries.

Western Digital Sticks to SanDisk Buyout as Chinese Investor Exits

Despite a major investor dropping out hard disk giant Western Digital(WD) is forging ahead with their plans to acquire fellow storage firm SanDisk. Originally announced 4 months ago, the original plan was for Western Digital to shell out $19 billion to take over SanDisk. That deal however, was contingent on Western Digital getting a $3.775 billion investment from the Chinese firm Unisplednour for a 15% stake, a deal that has now been terminated.

Under the original plan, WD would have paid $85.10 per SanDisk share, a figure that has dropped to $67.50. WD will be shelling out a bit more stock though since this backup plan was put in place as WD probably didn’t have enough cash on hand without the Unisplendour investment. The Chinese firm dropped its plans to take a 15% stake due to a investigation launched by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States to determine if there was a national security risk in letting Western Digital and SanDisk come under Chinese influence.

While the new deal will see WD foot more of the bill, the investment does make a lot of sense. Even as HDDs remain relevant today, NAND and other forms of storage are growing stronger every day. If Western Digital is to remain relevant, it has to diversify and who better than SanDisk, a firm that ranks third in the NAND business along with it’s current and future partner Toshiba.

Corsair Void Surround Hybrid Gaming Headset Review

Introduction


Corsair blew us away with their new Void gaming headsets, offering exceptional performance, comfort, style and very competitive prices that have made them an instant success with gamers around the world. Now Corsair is back again with their latest model, the Corsair Void Surround Hybrid Gaming Headset and if it’s anything like their Void USB Dolby 7.1 RGB, Void RGB Wireless 7.1 or their Void 3.5mm Stereo , we’re going to be in for a real treat with their latest.

“Enter the VOID—the innovative and exciting new family of advanced gaming headsets from Corsair. Whether you choose wireless, USB, or stereo powered audio gear, you will always be one step ahead of your enemies with fast forward design, spectacular fidelity, universal compatibility, and innovative on-headset controls – enabling you to command your gaming soundscape without hitting pause.” – Corsair

The Void Hybrid comes very well equipped, with a unique USB adapter system that allows it to work effortlessly on PC, Mobile, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, meaning it’s going to be a one-stop shop for all your gaming needs, at home, or on the go. Of course, you’ll also find the usual thrills from the Void headset, such as that comfortable microfiber padding, a noise-cancelling microphone, on-headset controls and more!

  • Genuine Dolby 7.1: Treat yourself to 7.1 channels of accurate and immersive surround
  • Universal Compatibility: The mobile-compatible connector works with PlayStation 4, Xbox One and mobile devices. The included USB Dolby 7.1 sound card unlocks genuine Dolby surround for PC
  • Embark on Marathon Gaming Sessions: Microfiber-wrapped memory foam ear pads enable extended play
  • Unlock legendary audio: Oversized 50mm neodymium drivers bring the action to life with brilliant range and precision
  • Crystal Clear Voice Communication: The noise-canceling microphone on the VOID headset puts your voice in the spotlight—and nothing else

The packaging is nicely designed, keeping in theme with other Corsair Gaming hardware and the previous Void series headsets. On the front, we can see that it supports Dolby, Corsair Utility Engine, multiple devices and features 50mm drivers.

Around the back, a more detailed run down on how the headset can connect to multiple devices, as well as some information on the noise-cancelling microphone, format support, and on-headset controls.

In the box, you’ll find all the usual documentation as well as a simple quick start guide.

There’s a small USB dongle soundcard included, this isn’t needed for connecting to all devices, but as you can see, it takes a USB port and outputs it to a 3.5mm jack for the headset, and there’s a small LED indicator on there for the Dolby feature.

Apple to Replace Faulty USB Type-C Cables

USB type-C seems great in theory, being more easily usable and set to be as universal as micro USB in future. Unfortunately, once again, problems have been found with the cables, this time, ones sold by Apple who has announced a replacement program for cables distributed between April and June 8th, 2015. This includes both the cables that shipped with the 12-inch Retina Macbook and those sold separately in Apple Stores.

According to Apple, the affected cables “may fail due to a design issue.” The result of this design issue is that “your MacBook may not charge or only charge intermittently when it’s connected to a power adapter with an affected cable.” Due to the limited set of cables that are to be replaced, it would seem that Apple has been selling revised cables for months, which makes you wonder why it took them so long to replace the faulty ones. Those customers who provided Apple with their address during either product registration or via the Apple online store are expected to be receiving replacement cables by the end of the month, with a replacement process set up for others affected. Users can visit the Genius Bar at an Apple Store, an authorized Apple service provider or contact Apple customer support, in all cases providing their MacBook’s serial number to prove eligibility for the program. For those who already purchased a replacement cable themselves, a refund may be available through Apple support. You can check whether your cable is one of those affected by the design issue using the image below.

This new design of USB cable is really running into a lot of teething trouble, as it seems like many manufacturers have failed to get them right first time, now including the mighty Apple, typically known for the reliability of their products. Maybe one day picking up a charging cable for your new phone or another device won’t seem like such a gamble, until then, many devices are still using the venerable micro USB.

ASUS Announces Travelair AC Pocket-Sized Wireless Flash Drive

ASUS has created a few products out of their norm lately and I think it’s nice to see them breaching into new product categories, especially when they create things that aren’t all that common yet. The newest product to be announced is the Travelair AC which is a pocket-sized wireless flash drive.

The ASUS Travelair AC features 802.11ac wireless network connectivity which easily is 3 times faster than the legacy 2.4GHz band that a lot of such devices operate on. The faster wireless connection doesn’t just provide better copy and streaming speeds, it also allows your devices to stay on a single network for less hassle.

Basic 2.4 GHz and 5GHz wireless connectivity is just one of the features in ASUS new portable flash drive as it also feature NFC technology for instant connection to NFC-enabled mobile devices for an even easier setup. The Travelair AC features 32GB built-in memory which in itself isn’t much, but it can be easily expanded through the built-in SD card reader.

The flash drive also features a micro USB connector for a wired connection to non-wifi devices as well as to charge the built-in 3000 mAh battery.

ASUS added a dual wireless functionality to the Travelair AC, so you won’t lose your internet connection when using this wireless flash drive. You simply connect the Travelair AC to your router and any device that connects to the drive will also automatically get the signal forwarding to your internet connection. Naturally this support also includes WPA2 security for secure connections both ways

The ASUS AiDrive app for Android, iOS, and Kindle devices allows for easy setup and connection, but the drive is also compatible with Windows and Mac OS devices. The built-in battery should provide up to 10 hours of multimedia content streaming to Wi-Fi-enabled devices per charge which should be enough for even the longest trips.

Pricing and availability of the ASUS Travelair AC are yet to be announced.

Specifications

  • Wi-Fi standards: IEEE 802.11b/g/n/ac 2.4GHz & 5GHz
  • Storage capacity: 32GB
  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Micro USB, NFC
  • OS Compatibility: iOS 7 or higher, AndroidTM 4.0 or higher, Kindle Fire HD and HDX, Windows 10, Windows 8, Windows 7, Mac OS X 10.6 or higher
  • Battery: 3000mAh
  • Colors: White
  • Size: 86 x 86 x 21mm
  • Weight: 120g

The True Cost of Using USB-C Cables

Remember the story of a Google engineer who declared war on USB-C cables that failed to meet specifications? His continuing battle took a turn so grim even he was surprised at how dangerous it had become. Back in November, Benson Leung, who works on Google’s Pixel range of computers – one of the first systems to support USB-C – found that many cheap cable available on sale failed to meet the official 1.1 specifications, and so began reviewing every cable he could get his hands on from Amazon.

Leung’s mission, though, has met an abrupt end. Not because he has reviewed every USB-C cable available, but because the last one he bought and tested destroyed his computer, as well as the two USB PD sniffers he was using for testing. He bought a Surjtech 3M USB A-to-C cable (now removed from sale) and plugged one end into his Chromebook Pixel and the other into the sniffer. The sniffer failed immediately, and the Pixel soon followed.

On 1st February, Lueng posted the following product review of the offending cable to Amazon:

“Hi Benson here doing another USB Type-C legacy cable review. This one will probably be the last one I do for a little while because this cable (1-star review score, straight off) seriously damaged the laptop computer I am using for these reviews, a Chromebook Pixel 2015, and two USB PD Sniffer devices (Twinkie).

I plugged this cable into the twinkie (as a pass through) and my Chromebook Pixel 2015 and the A end into a 1st party Apple 12W iPad charger.

Twinkie’s current and voltage measurement command (tw vbus) failed immediately after plugging this cable with the adapter into it. This is permanent damage. I tried resetting the Twinkie analyzer and having the firmware reflashed, but it continues to exhibit this failure. It is no longer able to use its voltage and current measurement capability on the Vbus line.

On my Pixel, both USB Type-C ports stopped responding immediately. Neither would charge or act as a host when I plugged in a USB device such as an ethernet adapter. Upon rebooting my Pixel, the system came up in recovery mode because it could not verify the Embedded Controller on the system. No amount of software recovery could revive the EC. Upon closer analysis, serious damage has been done to components related to charging and managing the USB Type-C port’s capabilities.

I directly analyzed the Surjtech cable using a Type-C breakout board and a multimeter, and it appears that they completely miswired the cable. The GND pin on the Type-A plug is tied to the Vbus pins on the Type-C plug. The Vbus pin on the Type-A plug is tied to GND on the Type-C plug.

This is a total recipie [sic] for disaster and I have 3 pieces of electronics dead to show for it, my Pixel 2015, and two USB PD analyzers.

Needless to say, this cable is fundamentally dangerous. Do not buy this under any circumstances. I will be contacting Surjtech directly shortly.”

Remember, kids: if you’re buying a new USB-C cable, always check to see if Leung has reviewed it. It could save your devices from being fried.

Image courtesy of MacWorld.

ASUS Cerberus Gaming Peripherals Review – A Full Gaming Setup for Under £100!

Introduction


Picking the right gaming peripherals can be a tricky endeavour as there is a huge range of products from an equally large selection of gaming brands out there to choose from. Asus are one of the most established and recognisable gaming brands on the market today, and while they may be better known for their high-end graphics cards and motherboards, they’ve proven time and time again that they can make some great gaming peripherals too.

Today we’ll be taking a look at their Cerberus range, a budget friendly but feature packed range of peripherals that are sure to appeal to a wide range of PC gamers. We’ve got a mouse, a headset and a keyboard here today and what’s great about these devices is that all of them can be picked up for a total under £100, making them an attractive option for those on a tighter budget, with the added peace of mind of them being from a well-established brand name.

As you can see below, we’ve got a well-equipped membrane keyboard, with macro keys, LED lighting and more. As well as an optical mouse, which features an ambidextrous design, adjustable DPI and LED lighting. Finally, a powerful gaming headset equipped with 60mm drivers, support for PC, Man and PS4 and a detachable microphone. All of which can be snapped up for a total of just £96.89 (prices from Overclockers UK).

Cerberus Keyboard – LED backlit USB gaming keyboard with splash-proof design

  • Full SECC metal plate – Rugged durability
  • Splash-proof design with drain hole – Protects against spilled liquids
  • 12 macro keys – Tactical flexibility
  • Fully rubberized feet – Enhanced friction for strong movements
  • Price – £39.95

For more information, check out the official product page here.

Cerberus Mouse – Ambidextrous optical gaming mouse with four-stage DPI switch and convenient LED indicator

  • Agile DPI control – Four customizable DPI levels with an LED color indicator
  • Stylish ambidextrous design – Designed for both right and left-handed gamers
  • Improved rubber side grips – Reduces sweating and slipping
  • Price – £21.95

For more information, check out the official product page here.

Cerberus Headset – Gaming headset with large 60mm neodymium drivers, designed for both PC gaming and mobile use.

  • Large 60mm neodymium-magnet drivers deliver unrivaled punch and ultimate immersion
  • Compatible with PC, Mac, PlayStation® 4 and smart devices for gaming and mobile fun
  • Dual-microphone design: detachable boom mic for clear in-game communication and an in-line mic for on-the-go chat
  • Comfortable 100mm full-size cushions offer great noise isolation for undisturbed gaming and music enjoyment
  • Price – £34.99

For more information, check out the official product page here.

The packaging on each product is really nice, with a large window on the headset and the mouse, allowing a good look at the design of each, while the box for the keyboard has a big image of the keyboard and its LED lighting. There’s a few technical details around each box, but nothing we haven’t already covered above.

Computer Completes a Rubik’s Cube In A Spellbinding Time

There are many things in life that are quite annoying and include inventions such as Predictive Text; however, the Rubik’s Cube certainly adds a new dimension to the word “Frustrating”. But, what happens if you mix a homemade computer with arguably the world’s most difficult game?

Well, two software engineers from Kansas, US, decided to find out and it becomes apparent this computer was able to successfully complete the iconic puzzle in a mind-bending 1.047 seconds, this means that it successfully found the correct permutations quicker than it would have taken for you or me to say the word Rubik’s Cube.

The current Guinness World Record is a rather poor 2.3 seconds while humans are currently well behind on a snail-like pace of 4.9 seconds, although, that is still pretty fast. If you’re wondering, this record is held by a 14-year-old who goes by the name Lucas Etter in November 2015.

Below is the video, as you can see, the cube is being held within a 3D printed frame via “drilled holes with four USB cameras pointing at the puzzle. The robot is then hooked up to a Linux-based computer running a Kociemba Rubik’s cube-solving algorithm that takes the information delivered from the cameras and then works out in milliseconds which moves to make”.

The creators, Jay Flatland and Paul Rose uploaded the video and are currently applying for it to be officially recognized as a new world record, one would assume this would be a time which stands for a long while, although, you know what assumptions are.

SanDisk Unveils New Drives @ CES 2016

CES 2016: SanDisk always has a number of interesting products to showcase during press events, and CES 2016 was no different. While the Extreme Portable 510 was announced a few weeks ago, it’s interesting to see how small it is in person and the quality of workmanship. Unfortunately, the 510 only comes in a 480GB capacity which is a baffling decision. Nevertheless, the design is fantastic and incorporates an IP55 rubber coating which protects against dust and water splashes. According to SanDisk, it’s meant for video professionals who require a rugged, and high performance drive on-the-go. In terms of pricing, the device will cost $250 and begin entering retail channels in the next few weeks.

The company also displayed a 200GB USB flash drive which can connect wirelessly to smart devices and provide the storage many users need. This is so important on Apple handsets where the storage is locked and cannot be expanded. Technically the drive utilizes 802.11n, costs $120 and can be purchased right now.

Patriot Introduces New Storage Hardware @ CES 2016

CES 2016: Patriot unveiled a huge array of new storage products during CES this year which really caught my attention. Firstly, the Gauntlet 4 SSD enclosure is constructed from an aluminium unibody case, and lightweight ABS tray. This makes it feel incredibly solid while being light enough to carry around in a backpack. Furthermore, the device supports USB 3.1 Type-C technology to deliver speeds 16% faster in read times and 22% enhanced write times compared to its predecessor. Obviously, this depends on the storage device used, but it’s a great indication of the advancements in performance. The Gauntlet 4 will be available towards the end of Q1 this year with a retail price of $39.99.

The Supersonic Mega USB employs a robust, zinc alloy casing to protect your data even if the most extreme circumstances. Additionally, the high-end Magnum provides read speeds up to 380MB/s and 70MB/s writes while coming in at an affordable price. As expected, the drives are USB 3.1 Gen 1 compliant and include a 5 year warranty.  You can choose from a 128GB model which retails for $49.99, 256GB SKU costing $89.99 and finally, a 512GB capacity with a retail price of $229.99.

If you require more performance, the Supersonic Magnum 2 is a better solution due to the up to 400MB/s read speed and 300MB/s write. This makes it one of the fastest flash drives on the market and a suitable choice for performance users.The Viper range offers large capacities with USB 3.1 connectivity at highly competitive prices. More specifically, the 64GB model will only cost $34.99, while the 128GB drive retails for $54.99 and the 256GB size comes in at $94.99.

Patriot also announced the company’s first PCIe M.2 solid state drive based on the Phison 5007 with MLC NAND. The Hellfire SSD is capable of sequential read speeds up to 3000MB/s and astonishing write rates up to 2200MB/s. This range of NVMe 1.2 compliant drives is very exciting and bound to please users wanting the ultimate in performance. Les Henry, VP of Engineering at Patriot said:

We are very excited to get into the PCIe storage space,” 

“With the launch of Intel’s latest Skylake Processor, we are seeing more motherboards available in the consumer market that support PCIe devices.  Along with the launch of Microsoft Windows 8.1 and Windows 10, which supports PCIe storage devices without the need for additional drivers, we feel this will be the future trend and will allow users to take full advantage of the PCIe storage speeds.“

The Hellfire will be available in 240GB, 480GB and 960GB capacities to suit a wide range of storage demands. Please note, pricing has not yet been revealed, but the product line is scheluled for a Q1 launch.

ASUSTOR Releases ADM 2.5.2 Beta

ASUSTOR is starting the new year with a new beta version of their upcoming ADM 2.5.2 firmware and it comes with new features as well as some bug and security fixes. There are three new main features in ADM 2.5.2 beta that could make your network life a little easier. There is a new DHCP server feature, an improved print server feature that now supports USB IP printing, and the Share link explorer that helps to make sharing more intuitive and flexible.

The first new addition is the DHCP server that can take over the job normally performed by your router. It might be convenient for a lot of people that they only have to use one control panel and user interface to configure their network rather than two. Let the router handle the basic connection while your NAS, that is running anyway, is doing the rest. ASUSTOR’s DHCP server can assign multiple IP subnets from one LAN interface, and also supports DHCP reservations for specified network devices

The Print server function got an upgrade and now also supports USB IP Printer mode to virtually connect the printer with your PC and generally increase the range of printers that the NAS is compatible too without worries. USB IP printer mode is used together with Windows ASUSTOR Control Center, which again limits it to the Windows ecosystem. Then again, most consumer use Windows.

The new Share link explorer makes it easier for the people you share files with. When your friend or colleague receives a share link, he or she can see the shared files and folders in a list and with just one click they can select only the needed files to download. This makes file sharing more intuitive and flexible.

There are also some additional upgrades behind the lines such as the PHP backend being updated from version 5.3 to 5.6 and Apache2’s HTTPd got upgraded from 2.2.29 to 2.2.31 to address the CVVE-2015-3183 security vulnerability. The App Central got a new installation wizard. The built-in database switched from MySQL to MariaDB 10 which should free up some general resources.

You can download the new beta firmware directly on ASUSTOR’s beta program website.

Asus Reveal Monitor Running Just On A USB-C Cable

Hands up if you have ever used multiple screens on your computer? Some people use it to watch a movie while they browse the internet, some have several screens to display a virtual world in panoramic view. Whatever you use multiple screens for there has always been a problem with setting them up, the connections. Does your graphics card have an HDMI port free or does your laptop have that VGA port? The end result was the creation of single cable screens. Connect a screen to your device with only a single cable, designed to run both the power and the data needed through it. Asus have announced the latest in single cable monitors, one using the new USB type C connection.

Titled as the MB169C+ portable display, the device features a 15.6-inch screen with 1080p resolution. The idea of taking a stack of screens out of a bag and connecting them to any computer or laptop of your choice is quite pleasing especially with them only weighing 800 grams a piece.

With ASUS confident that regardless of platform, the screen will connect and function as intended you could soon connect the same screen to your phone or laptop on the go and then hook it up for a dedicated screen for your emails when you get home. With no set price yet or release date, we can only wait to hear more.

Razer Diamondback Gaming Mouse Review

Introduction


Razer has one of the most diverse range of gaming mice on the market today, with all kinds of unique shapes, sizes and specifications to suit a vast range of gamer’s and gaming styles. The Diamondback is one of their most iconic mice, having been around in one form or another since 2004, and having undergone several rather major redesigns in that time. Just look at the timeline below and you can see just how far it has developed in that time.

Their latest model is supposed to be the best one yet, ditching the now archaic 1800 DPI 3G infrared sensor in favour of their latest extreme hardware, the 16,000 DPI 5G laser sensor, the very same one we recently tested in Razer’s insanely good Mamba 2015 mouse. Designed for use with both left or right hands, as well as a super slim ergonomic design that is ideal for palm, claw or fingertip grips, the Diamondback promises to be a bit of a jack of all trades when it comes to gaming, and should appeal to quite a lot of gamers, be that pro gamer or just those who want a nice mouse to use at home.

“The Razer Diamondback made its debut in late 2004 at the World Cyber Games and took the gaming world by storm. This iconic gaming mouse was born from extensive research and engineering, hundreds of design iterations, followed by countless rigorous test sessions with eSports athletes. Featuring the world’s first optical gaming sensor, the original Razer Diamondback delivered the greatest accuracy and speed of its time.” – Razer

Specifications

  • Ambidextrous form factor
  • 16,000 DPI 5G laser sensor
  • Up to 210 inches per second / 50 g acceleration
  • 1,000 Hz Ultrapolling
  • On-The-Fly Sensitivity adjustment
  • Chroma customizable lighting
  • Inter-device color synchronization
  • 7 programmable Hyperesponse buttons
  • Razer Synapse enabled
  • 2.1 m / 7 ft braided fiber cable
  • Approximate size: 125 mm / 4.92 in (Length) x 60 mm / 2.64 in (Width) x 30 mm / 1.18 in (Height)
  • Approximate weight: 89 g / 0.09 lbs (without cable)

System Requirements

  • PC or Mac with a free USB port
  • Windows® 10/ Windows® 8/ Windows® 7 / Mac OS X (v10.8-10.10)
  • Internet connection
  • 100 MB of hard disk space
  • Razer Synapse registration (requiring a valid e-mail), software download, licence acceptance, and internet connection needed to activate full features of product and for software updates. After activation, full features are available in optional offline mode.

A slim box with a few teasing details on the front, such as the full-spectrum Chroma lighting engine and 16,000 DPI laser sensor.

Around the back, a few more specs, such as the 7-foot braided cable, programmable buttons, Razer synapse and the ambidextrous design.

In the box, you’ll find the usual documentation, a few cool Razer stickers, as well as the hard-wired Diamondback mouse.

The cable is nice and long (7-feet) and comes fitted with a gold-plated USB connector.

Logitech G933 Artemis Spectrum Wireless Headset Review

Introduction


Gaming headsets come and go with rapid succession in this industry, some great, many good and a lot that are fairly forgettable, but every now and then, something big happens. Today is one of those days at eTeknix HQ, as one of the most important headsets in recent years has landed on our desk and its expected to be something truly special. I am, of course, talking about the Logitech G933, following in the footsteps of the legendary G930, highly regarded as one of the best wireless headsets on the market, the G933 looks to make everything bigger and better than ever before.

“Patent pending advanced Pro-G audio drivers are made with hybrid mesh materials that provide the audiophile-like performance gaming fans have been demanding. From your favorite music to expansive game soundtracks, the Pro-G drivers deliver both clean and accurate highs as well as a deep rich bass that you would expect from premium headphones. Experience incredible 7.1 surround sound with Dolbyreg; or DTS Headphone:X Surround Sound,* creating lifelike in-game special awareness, allowing you to clearly hear enemies sneaking around or special ability cues.”

The Artemis is very well equipped, offering support for virtually any audio device, including games consoles and PC. Despite being wireless, it comes with a simple USB-powered transmitter that can be used to turn any wired audio jack into a wireless compatible device, and that’s something that simply cannot be ignored, as it opens up a huge range of devices for use with the Artemis. Add to that high-end 40mm drivers, a high-quality microphone, LED lighting, rechargeable wireless functionality, a fold away microphone, and more.

“G933 Artemis Spectrum works with PC, mobile, home theater devices, and game consoles, including PS4 and Xbox One. One headset for all your devices lets you take G933 Artemis Spectrum from your gaming rig to your gaming console and your mobile devices. You can even connect your home theater to the USB-powered wireless mix adapter and listen to TV shows, music, or movies wirelessly without disturbing the people in your home.”

For a quick look at some of the cool features on offer, check out the official product trailer from Logitech.

The packaging doesn’t give away much information on the front, but it does give you a great image of the headset and first impressions are that it looks pretty awesome!

Lots of technical details dotted around the back and the side of the box, most notable are the 16.8M RGB lighting, Dolby and DTS X support.

The headset is very nicely packaged with lots of protection to keep it safe in transit.

The headset out and you’ll find a simple visual guide to setting up the basic functions of the headset.

Finally, a collection of cables which include a 4-pole 3.5mm cable for use with mobile devices, which features a built-in in-line controller, an RCA passthrough cable and a USB to Micro-USB cable. Finally, we’ve got a 3.5mm to 2.5mm adaptor.

TeamGroup’s M152 Is a Lot More Than Just a Flash Drive

Team Group released a new flash drive shortly before Christmas and at first, I totally skipped this news. I skimmed it and it all the M152 drive looked like was a clever but ordinary flash drive. It didn’t look much different then the TeamGroup M131 flash drive that we reviewed a while ago either. Today I came across it again and I had to find out why it was worth a press release. To my surprise, this is anything but an ordinary flash drive that will work on both your PC and Android OTG devices as it has a few extra smart-features that can come in very handy.

Let us first have a look at the basic specifications, altho they aren’t spectacular. We get a USB 2.0 and micro USB flash drive with a capacity of either 8GB, 16GB, or 32GB. The drive itself is only a nano-drive and won’t take up much space while the rest is the OTG adapter that also works with other USB devices such as keyboards and mice on OTG compliant Android devices. With a USB 2.0 interface, we’re limited to a theoretical max of 60MB/s, so the drive won’t break any speed records.

The really clever part of TeamGroup’s M152 is the built-in wireless capabilities and app support. Simply plug the drive into your PC and link it with your Android device in order to simply drag files from your computer and onto the Android device. You can also share the Android device screen onto your computer monitor and operate it fully from there. Answer calls, type text or play your favourite mobile game with the convenience of your PC with your mouse and keyboard.

This could be a really cool feature that I could see myself using on a daily basis. I hate having to grab my phone every time it wants something from me and with a device like the TeamGroup M152 I wouldn’t have to anymore.

EE Power Bars Recalled Due to Safety Concerns – Again!

Mobile phones, tablets, handheld games consoles, many things these days can be charged off of a USB port and while many use their PC’s or laptops to charge their devices, some have taken to other ways to charge them. From a plug, a USB adapter or the more mobile solutions, people are able to store and charge with devices as small as your watch.EE made headline news when it revealed that it would be releasing their Power Bar’s, a small tube which you can plug into your phone or tablet and give it that last-minute boost.

EE made headline news when it revealed that it would be releasing their Power Bar’s, a small tube which you can plug into your phone or tablet and give it that last-minute boost. With the added incentive to be able to pop into any EE store and replace your drained power bar with a charged one, they became quite popular and many companies followed suit. That was until trouble struck. Back in April, EE gave out over a million Power Bars only to then have to recall any Power Bar with a E1-06 model number, thanks to the “small risk” of them bursting into flames and exploding.

This wouldn’t be too bad for them, except that EE has now identified a “very small number” of incidents where Power Bars can overheat, this means you could end up with a flaming battery in your pocket pretty quickly. As a result, EE is recalling every Power Bar that was ever handed out, as detailed in their statement released today on their website.

To help give you a little motivation if you are an “eligible” EE Customer, upon returning your Power Bar to an EE store, you will receive a £20 voucher.

With no information about a possible replacement or Power Bar Version 2.0, I can only praise EE for taking the hit and saying that the risk (no matter how small) is still too great.

Razer Mamba 16,000 DPI Gaming Mouse Review

Introduction


Razer, one of the biggest and most recognisable gaming brands on the market, are back once again with their latest version of the popular Mamba mouse. The Mamba comes equipped with a range of extreme features that are said to put it far above the competition, making it ideal for competitive gaming, but also just as versatile for day-to-day at home use and work.

“Boasting the world’s most precise 16,000 DPI gaming mouse sensor, the Razer Mamba provides you with unsurpassable accuracy, so you’ll have an even greater edge over your competition. With its ability to track 1 DPI increments and a lift-off cut-off distance as precise as 0.1 mm, the Razer Mamba helps you to react instantly while you skillfully maneuver your way to victory.”

The 16,000 DPI sensor is going to provide some interesting benefits for gaming, as you’ll be able to swap DPI and quickly navigate even the largest RTS/MOBA maps with extreme precision. Being able to tune in your own DPI settings in 1DPI increments is also pretty special, as it frees you from the constraints of some mice, which only allow you to pick various levels, such as 200/400/800/1600/etc. Not content with a fully customizable sensor, the mouse buttons can also be tuned using an included tool, allowing you to pick from a lighter response, or a more distinctive click, and everything in-between.

Still not enough features? How about extensive RGB lighting customisation, or the choice to switch between wireless and wired modes with a 1ms response time? Plus the cable means you can use it in wireless mode, but continue using it while it is changing, so there’s no excuse to stop playing.

The packaging is nice and simple, with a great image of the Mamba on the front, as well as a few specs on the side detailing the adjustable switches and the charging system.

Around the back, an image showing off the charging dock, which also comes with RGB lighting effects.

The box opens out to reveal a quote from Razer, as well as a steel tin presentation box.

The box is the perfect safe house for the Mamba, helping you protect your investment when ever you need to store the mouse between uses.

In the box, you’ll find the usual documentation, the charging dock, a black braided cable and, of course, the Mamba mouse.

Roccat Kiro Modular Ambidextrous Gaming Mouse Review

Introduction


PC gaming is serious business, sure you can pick up virtually any old keyboard and mouse and make do with what you have, but having the right tools for the job can not only improve your performance while gaming, but also make the whole experience much more enjoyable. Enter the Roccat Kiro, a finely tuned gaming mouse that is designed for both left and right-handed gamers.

“Meet the Kiro, the bigger brother of the Lua. With its highly modular, superdextrous build, the game has been changed for ambidextrous mice. Perfectly optimizable for both left and right-handed gamers out of the box, it ticks all the boxes for gamers who thrive on a highly functional mouse with a clean, ergonomic design. With no-sweat parts comprised of a ROCCAT-pioneered soft-touch surface, the Kiro is the flexible ergonomic mouse that lets you win your way.”

While this mouse is tailored to suit any gamer, it is going to appeal to the eSports crowd too, thanks to its compact and nimble design, as well as its high-end Pro-Optic Sensor R” which offers up to 4000DPI; 2000 native, but 4000 via overdrive mode. It also features RGB 16.8 Million colour illumination, Talk FK, AlienFX, a powerful 32-Bit ARM MCU, onboard memory for storing profiles, a modular design and can even support your own 3D-printed side panels! So what are we waiting for? Let’s take a closer look at what the Kiro has to offer.

“In spite of its relatively small size, the Kiro has a strong focus on functionality and is loaded with a build sporting only the best possible components, for a premium gaming experience. Make no mistake, the Kiro’s attention to detail puts it on another level. OMRON switches, a robust 2D Titan Wheel plus a unique soft-touch surface that nullifies palm and finger sweat provides a platform for solid and reliable, high-comfort gaming.”

The packaging is typical of any other Roccat product, with a great image of the mouse and all major specs detailed on the front. As you can see, this mouse has been recommended for FPS and MOBA, but it’s a fairly straight forward design that should be suited to a bit of everything.

Around the back, a few more details on the specifications, but let’s just get things out of the box and see for ourselves.

First thing we find, a few bits of documentation, nothing major but of course we also find a mouse and some side panels.

CM Storm Xornet II RGB Optical Gaming Mouse

Introduction


Picking the right mouse can make or break your gaming experience. I’m a strong believer that a really great mouse won’t really make you a better gamer, at least not right away, but it can enhance your experience greatly. From having the right ergonomics to leave your hand feeling comfortable, even after a full days work and a late night of gaming, is certainly something you should be looking for in a mouse. Having a smooth and accurate sensor, so you don’t screw up those edits in Photoshop, or miss those headshots in your favourite game, that’s also pretty important. The latest mouse from CM Storm, the Xornet II, promises to great ergonomics, a great sensor and so much more.

“The Xornet II is built from the ground up for gamers who choose to battle it out using a claw grip style. Renowned as the best gaming mouse design for claw grip, every inch of this mouse has been crafted to prevent cramping and provide maximum comfort. Powered by an improved optical sensor, on-the-fly DPI settings, full 16.8 million color illumination, and lift of distance tuning and calibration, the Xornet II stands out among the competition as a comfortable, accurate and affordable weapon to add to your arsenal.”

The new design and upgrade hardware certainly sound promising, and several great mice, such as the Alcor and the Mizar already to their name, I’m eager to see what this mouse can do.

“The Xornet II uses an Avago 3320 optical sensor which is nearly flawless for control and speed, meaning your enemies stay in your crosshairs. And that’s not all. You’ll be prepared for any situation thanks to 3 preset DPI controls (500 – 3500) that can be changed on-the-fly. Go from performing surgery with a shotgun (500 DPI) to lightning fast reaction time shots (3500 DPI). Or open up our new easy-to-use software to find the perfect DPI setting to match your playstyle. An RGB LED in the scroll wheel quickly lets you know your current DPI setting.”

The features are sounding promising, with a good quality Avago 3320 Optical sensor, customisable three setting DPI, RGB lighting and more.

The packing has a nice image of the Xornet II on the front, as well as detailing the optical sensor, lighting and claw-grip design.

Around the back, we’ve got the main specifications, but of course, we’ll take a much closer look at these features in a moment.

In the box, you’ll find a user manual, as well as a hard-wired Xornet II mouse.

Patriot Introduces Four New 128GB USB 3.1 Flash Drives

Patriot Memory introduces four new USB flash drives with a large 128GB capacity yet packed in a compact form factor. The new USB flash drives use a USB 3.1 Gen 1 interface but are fully backwards compatible with previous USB standards. The drives are small and large, but they don’t feature the best overall performance. But one can’t expect wonders from such small drives with such large capacity. The drives are rated for speeds up to 110MB/s reading and 20MB/writing.

Pictured above is the Patriot Vex and it is the first of the four new drives. The Vex is perfect for the consumer looking for a pop of color, but minimalist design. The 128GB Vex will be available in a bright green coupled with a black plastic top for better grip while inserting and ejecting.

The Patriot Tab flash drive is probably the simplest it can get and speaks to those looking for a truly minimalistic design. It has a small eyelet at the top for attachment to a key ring or similar and at the same time it aids when ejecting the drive.

The Spart features a metal uni-body design that makes it seamlessly disappear into any device. A perfect grab-and-go drive, allowing the user to take their files wherever they please.

The last of the four new drives that got a capacity boost is the Supersonic mini. The compact, rubberized, and rugged, flash drive is built to withstand a beating and comes in a sleek opaque black finish.

The Tab, Spark Vex and Supersonic mini will be available for purchase worldwide on December 14th at a starting MSRP of $49.99 USD.

CM Storm Sentinel III Ergonomic RGB Gaming Mouse Review

Introduction


The legendary CM Storm by Cooler Master Sentinel mouse is back and it’s better than ever! The latest high-end gaming mouse from CM Storm takes everything we knew and loved about the Sentinel II, but improves on each aspect to make the Sentinel III the perfect weapon for modern gamers.

“The OLED display puts the Sentinel III in a class of its own. You can upload any logo or re-name your profiles across the display to represent different settings and/or your team logo. The Sentinel III also radiates any color you choose. Two different areas can glow any color that piques your fancy. With 16.8 million color options, you can tinker till you drop or completely switch off all LED lighting.”

The iconic ergonomics and palm grip design are still present, but the old laser sensor has been swapped out for a new Avago 3988 Optical Sensor, there’s a built-in OLED display, RGB lighting, TactiX shift button, higher quality switches, a more powerful 32bit ARM processor, more internal memory, higher quality switches, better software, weight tuning system, LOD tuning, fully-programmable buttons, easily changeable feet, the list just goes on and on!

“Not having enough keys on your mouse is a pain. Storm TactiX solves this problem by letting you assign secondary functions to your mouse. During a game, simply press one button to trigger secondary functions for every mouse button. This essentially increasing your button count from 8 to 15.” Said CM Storm.

As you can see from the specifications below, all the basics are covered and more. The mouse weighs in at 155g, although the weight-tuning system allows you  to bring that up by an additional 22.5g (5 x 4.5g) to suit your own taste.

The packaging has a nice picture of the mouse, although why it’s only showing off the LED lighting and not the OLED display is strange, as that’s a major selling point I think CM would be eager to show off.

Around the back, we see a few more images showing the OLED display, weight tuning and buttons.

In the box, you’ll not find much in the way of extras, but you will find this rather lovely looking mouse, which comes hard-wired with a high-quality black braided USB cable, as well as a gold-plated connector.