The Silverstone Grandia series is one of the corner stones of the HTPC market; they’ve long been one of the most popular choices for AV enthusiasts who want a PC integrated into their entertainment setup. The Grandia series has always balanced premium build quality, great aesthetics, competitive prices and more; Silverstone look set to continue that trend with the new Grandia GD10 HTPC chassis.
The GD10 features many of the same style points and component capabilities of previous generation chassis from the Grandia series, which is no bad thing. The new model comes equipped with support for most major motherboard types, including SSI-CEB, ATX and Micro-ATX. As you can see from the specifications below, the GD10 comes with support for up to five hard drives, depending on their configuration. The chassis will also handle a range of 80 to 120mm fans; with three 120mm fans pre-installed. 12.2″ graphics cards are also supported, which opens up possibilities for many of the high-end cards that are currently on the market.
Just like every other Silverstone product we see, the packaging is really nicely designed and features the full specifications and a few clear photographs of the product around the sides of the box.
Inside I found a small collection of cable ties, a metal bracket, some rubber washers, a front panel key and all of the usual screws needed to install all major components.
A detailed user guide is included, which explains all of the features and the install process for the GD10.
Hybrid drives are starting to become a commonplace on the component market as a suitable upgrade solution for those wanting a drive with the capacity of a hard drive, but with read speeds that are more in the regions of a solid state drive. Keeping up with this new trend, Buffalo Technology has unveiled a new class of external hard drive which features a DRAM cache to offer faster read speeds to commonly accessed data.
Unlike an internal hybrid drive however, the HD-PGDU3’s cached area is not a true solid state partition with the cached data being held on volatile DRAM memory which is kept alive by an internal battery. Naturally this means that after a period of time the battery will run out of power and the cached data will be lost, however Buffalo do provide a small battery meter and in addition to providing the cache with power, the battery also ensures that there is no data corruption in the event of the drive being disconnected from the host device too early.
Two models of the drive will be available at launch with 500GB and 1TB capacities with both drives offering 1GB of DRAM cache backed by a lithium-ion battery. USB3.0 connectivity ensures the cached data can be accessed as fast as possible with speed of up to 400MB/s on offer.
There is no word on pricing or availability as of yet, but with Computex on the horizon we suspect any further announcements will be made in the coming weeks.
Compared to USB2.0 flash drives, the faster and more spacious USB3.0 drives are typically still a lot bigger than their older siblings and due to their size, they are not always the most convenient items to have around. As a solution to the problem we saw USB2.0 drive shrink right down to the nano scale a year or two back, meaning that they can be left plugged into a USB port on a notebook system for example and almost forgotten about. Their small size means that the worry of knocking them and consequently breaking them is no longer around.
Until now though USB3.0 drives have not had the benefit of the compact form factor, however this is now about to change as Buffalo announce the launch of their RUF3-PS series of USB3.0 drives. Protruding out only 5.2mm from the host system, the tiny drives will offer read speeds of up to 121MB/s in capacities ranging from a budget friendly 8GB, right up to a healthy 64GB. Additionally the drives will be available in red, black and silver to match in with your notebook system, or stand out in red if that is what you fancy. Initially the drives will only be available in Japan at the end of this month, starting at around $21 USD / 2,100 Yen for the 8GB drives, rising up to around $87 USd / 8,900 Yen for the 64GB model. Availability outside of Japan is yet to be announced at this moment in time.
Since the first time that I had a wireless hard drive in for review, I had a mixed set of feelings with the concept and the functionality of the devices, though as of late, there have been a large number of improvements seen across the board with better performance, longer battery life and most of all a mobile application that works as it should do. With most of these teething troubles having been taken care of, I have a more welcome feeling on the technology and I can now see it in a better light as to how they can improve our mobile lives. To top this revised emotion, the pricing side of things has also settled down and as a result vendors are now able to introduce products with more features including the importance of having greater storage capacities. We now have a range of devices out there that can cater for a wide variety of needs and budgets.
The AE800 is not the first wireless storage product to roll of the ADATA production line and in the early part of last year I took a look at the AE400 wireless card reader and power bank, which gave users the flexibility to insert an SD card of their own choosing to either share photos or provide a small amount of sharable storage for a number of mobile devices such as tablets and phones. The bottom line from that review was that ADATA’s first attempt at wireless storage impressed me, with a unit that was easy to use, compact and good-looking. Granted that the mobile app needed a little bit of polishing off around the edges, but it worked all the same and did what it needed to. Since then the app has seen a few changes and the end result is a more reliable and functional area through which you can wirelessly connect to a compatible drive.
The AE800 that I’m taking a look at today pulls a number of features from the AE400 although the obvious difference here is with the storage medium. Where the AE400 was flexible in its storage capacity and connectivity, with the option for both USB drives and SD cards to be connected to the unit and then shared out, the AE800 only has the option to share out its own integral storage. Inside the black, sleek-looking chassis is a 500GB 5400rpm drive courtesy of Western Digital and to power it whilst on the go, a larger capacity 5200mAh battery is on hand. Like the AE400, the AE800 still has the option to charge a mobile device such as a smartphone with the capacity there to charge you phone from flat to full twice (depending on the battery capacity of your handset).
Although the AE800 is designed for use whilst out and about, there is still a native USB3.0 port included as part of the specification, allowing the drive to be connected to a desktop or laptop system in a more traditional manner to copy media and other files to and from the drive ready for use on the go; whether it be for business use, or for sharing of video content to the kids tablets in the back of the card on a long journey.
Alongside the hard drive we get a typical quick start guide to show how the unit is turned on and how you get connected to your mobile device. Alongside this is a USB3.0 cable and a mains power adaptor. Our sample here has a European tipped adaptor, however a plug for your region will be included should you choose to buy this unit.
Whilst we have seen a lot from Kingston at this years Consumer Electronics Show, but this is not to say that they have shown us everything that they have to offer. Part of the reason why we see one or two things crop up just after CES comes down to development. If Kingston were to put everything together and launch it all at the same time, then there is a high chance that something will get missed out or not given as much exposure as something that is a little more revolutionary or performance pushing. This is the reason why only a few weeks after one of the years biggest tech shows Kingston are holding a smaller, more select event where they can focus their attention one a small group of products that they want to give a small push into the market and with the number of products more concentrated, the exposure that they will get from these is more defined as opposed to being lost in a stand or suite overview for example.
One of the few products that they have got on show, and the one that this mini-event is mainly pushing out is the all new DataTraveller Locker+ G3. Now whilst we have seen a wide range of drives come on to the market under both the DataTraveller name and also having the G3 tag, the Locker+ is a drive that is a little more unique with a feature that not too many drives tend to have on the market; namely encrypted storage.
Now when we think about data encryption and storage, people tend to think about the internet and systems that hold personal information about ourselves, but on the consumer end of the market, there is still the demand for secure storage to ensure that data and information cannot fall into the wrong hands. Flash drives are one of the more common pieces of consumer hardware that we tend to misplace or lose entirely and if this drive holds valuable data, either personal or in relation to a business, there is the slight potential that the damages could be far greater than expected. As a result this is the whole reason why we are seeing encrypted drives come onto the market.
To join this growing market of secure flash drives, Kingston are unveiling the new and improved DataTraveler Locker+ Generation 3 drive. With capacities ranging from 8GB through to 64GB and offering read and write speeds of up to 135MB/s and 40MB/s respectively, the thrid generation drives offer better capacities and faster speeds over the generation two secure drives that fall under the DataTraveler range. With faster speeds on offer, the new drive boasts a USB3.0 port and a sleek, rugged feeling all-metal housing with a massive 5-year warranty. Data encryption is made possible through an installation-free interface that runs directly from the drive, meaning wherever you go, you’ll always have access to your data when you need it and the security when you need it the most.
The Locker+ G3 is available now and with prices starting at around £10 for the 8GB model, ranging up to around £45 for the 64GB drive, the drives are not only desirable, but also affordable as well. Watch closely on eTeknix as will have a review of this drive coming up very soon.
Whilst the Locker+ G3 was the the key product to see, there is one drive that Kingston have been bragging about for a number of months now and one that has dropped the jaws of many enthusiasts and pro-sumers around the world. This is of course the massive 1TB capacity that is packed into the HyperX Predator USB3.0 flash drive. We are no strangers to this drive, in-fact I was the first person that was able to get my hands on this drive for review and I have to give it to Kingston, the mind boggling capacity in such a small frame is one of last years greatest innovations and since its release, Kingston have seen a strong response from the community with a fair number of drives beings sold.
If you want to read more about the HyperX Predator 1TB, take a look at our full review where we have specs and performance benchmarks of this mega drive.
Over the last few months the price of flash storage has been on a steady downhill curve and this drop in price has effected multiple sectors of the storage market. On one front, SSDs on the upper end of the capacity scale have been coming more and more affordable and as a result users have been able to get faster and larger drives instead. On another front and one which affects the product that I’m looking at today, the cost of producing larger flash drives, or ‘memory sticks’ as they are commonly known, has plummeted and high-capacity drives are more than within the budget of most of us out there who need them.
The way to look at this drop in price is to look at how expensive flash drives used to be only a few years ago. When you went online or into your high street retailer to get a flash drive, the cost of getting a 2GB drive for example was very costly and typically you saw 1GB and even 512MB drives commonly being used. Today we laugh at the cost of a 2GB drive and now we are literally being given 4GB and 8GB drives for free and this leads us back round to the statement above about how the price of storage drops over time to a more affordable level.
Putting the cost of storage to the side for a moment and taking a little trip down memory lane, we are no strangers to Mach Xtreme and the drives that they have to offer with this being the fourth drive that I’ve had to look at. Not only is this the fourth drive, but it is also the biggest, yet smallest drive that I’ve had in to review, which once again ties in with the points made above. Typically the drives that I’ve seen before now have featured SLC NAND inside and to bring this down to earth, this meant that the cost of producing the drives was a little higher in order to offer up the faster write speeds that early USB3.0 drives failed to provide. SLC NAND at the same time doesn’t suffer from the same high rates of wear over time when compared to the more affordable MLC NAND, but with advances in technology, MLC NAND now offers the best of both worlds with faster speeds and greater storage density. The end result is a drive that is faster, smaller and cheaper than before – just what everyone wants to hear in this day in age!
Like every other Mach Xtreme drive that I’ve seen, the MX-LX comes on a card back with a plastic shell holding the drive in place. On the front and rear of the card we get the usual array of information with the drives capacity clearly stated, a note highlighting the drives optimisation for Asus motherboards and on the back a run-down on the drives specifications and features.
Over the last couple of years the internet has been going through a radical increase in speed and with some connections passing well over the 100Mbps mark, many people are now looking for the next generation of routers that can keep up with the high-speed connections that are on offer. As part of the connection process, every ISP (Internet Service Provider) tends to provide us with their own branded routers such as BT’s ‘Home Hub’ and Virgin’s ‘Super Hub’ (in the case of the two leading Internet providers in the UK); but let’s be honest, whilst they all claim that their wireless router is the better than everyone else’s – they’re not necessarily the best.
When I took a look at Netgear’s R6300 Wireless AC router back towards the start of the year, the performance that I experienced both on the local network and through the internet was far superior to my BT Home Hub that I was provided with – especially when I saw my connection speed to the internet go up by around 5Mbps. This is generally the same story across the board for many people. We are on the whole demanding more from our wireless routers and the ISP provided equipment is not matching our needs, so it is soon being replaced by after-market alternatives that have so much more to offer. Netgear are one such brand that is considered by many. Having been one the of the industries leading infrastructure manufacturers for many years and the consumer level products have been a major part of their business model, with high customer ratings and renowned reliability proving they are one of the best out there.
As the internet has grown to be faster and faster, Netgear have been pushing to come up with a router that not only meets the demands of today’s heavy users, but with features that are ready for the next generation of wireless devices. After many months of R&D (Research and Development), towards the start of this year, a line of dual-band Gigabit wireless was brought to market and the R6300 was one of these. Delivering super fast, dual band wireless with speeds of up to 1300Mbps across an AC connection it has soon become one of the best routers on the market. The user interface also saw a massive overhaul with all the connectivity and configuration options that the end-user may need – laid out in an intuitive design. Once you top off the package with USB port(s) for connecting printers and storage devices to, enabling them to be accessed across the network or remotely through Netgear’s ReadyShare functions, it becomes apparent that Netgear are offering a little more than your run-of-the-mill router.
Like many routers, Netgear’s package is simple and to the point. With little more than a DC power adaptor and a CAT5e Ethernet cable to connect the router to a modem needed, a simple pack of paperwork rounds off all the bits that you’ll need to get things up and running.
Over the last few months, monitors that are built for gaming have been cropping up within the marketplace and at last people can get a panel that compliments their high performance gaming system, delivering better image quality and faster refresh rates with a typical 144Hz refresh rate. The refresh rate is the key part to what sets this new type of panel apart from the rest of the crowd. As I’ve highlighted before, it’s all and well having a GPU that can pump out in the region of 100fps, but if your monitor is only running at 60Hz as the vast majority do, then it can only show a maximum of 60 frames per second itself. As a result there are frames that have been rendered effectively going to waste and it may be one of those frames that could make a crucial difference to the outcome of a tournament for example.
This is where the new 144Hz standard comes into play. With this higher refresh rate, the panel is able to display up to 144 frames per second. This means that not only are those extra frames not going to waste, but the image will appear to be much smoother and fluid in motion as scenes are displayed.
Recently I took a look at one of these new 144Hz panels from AOC, namely the G2460PQU and on the whole I was impressed with the quality of the build and the feature set on offer, but most importantly, the difference that the faster refresh rate made to not only game play but also during day-to-day usage.
Philips as some may or may not know is related to AOC through a parent company known as TPV. Whilst the two rand names run side by side, it is worth noting that some aspects of the monitors from each brand may appear to be the same, but on the whole they are run as two completely separate brands within the market place.
Philips ship the monitor in is probably one of the biggest boxes that I’ve seen for a screen of this size. The box is wrapped in a bold space styled scene with an image of the screen itself and along the lower edge are a set of smaller images highlighting certain aspects of the screen.
With everything taken out of the box, it’s immediately apparent why the box is so thick. Where most screens come with the base plate completely separate from the rest of the stand, the 242G5’s stank is one complete unit and as a result the dimensions of the box are increased. Alongside the stand and the LCD panel, there are a set of manuals and an information and driver CD, IEC power cable, USB3.0 cable, two display cables (VGA and DL-DVI) and finally an OSD remote control pad.
ADATA are very well known for releasing drives that offer up something a little bit different to the typical hard drive in a plastic shell that we typically see on the high street. Such drives include the DashDrive Elite HE720 which offers 5H scratch resistance and the title of the worlds slimmest external hard drive and the DashDrive Durable HD710 which offers up a totally waterproof and shock proof construction, meeting military grade recommendations.
With a catalogue of unique design ideas, it was only a short matter of time before we saw yet another drive appear and this comes in as the DashDrive Choice HC630.
Coming to market with three capacities; 500GB, 750GB and 1TB, the drive which is backed by a full three year warranty has a distinct blue etched pattern to its metal housing and around the edge is a raised plastic surface to protect the etched design from getting damaged when place on a flat surface. Even with the raised surface and protective plastic surround, the 160g drive is still rather compact with dimensions of 115 x 78 x 15mm and inside is a 2.5″ SATA HDD with a USB3.0 interface for fast data transfer speeds. The drive is topped of with a blue LED to compliment the drives colour and when purchased, users can also download a copy of ADATA’s HDDtoGo Software to give added security to their data.
There is no word on pricing and availability at this moment, however we will update this as and when we have more information.
Over the last few months, the number of wireless storage products and options has been growing and each of them has their own individual selling points; Patriots Gauntlet Node for example allows the user to install a drive of their own choosing based on their capacity needs, whilst ADATA’s DashDrive Air provides storage by connecting a USB hard drive or SD card whilst internally it houses a battery pack to charge a device through the USB port. There are also options from Kingston and Seagate as well, but overall there is one option that every other product of this nature on the market lacks and this is LAN.
In such a tightly fought market, Corsair have thrown a new connectivity option into the mix and this sets the Voyager Air apart making it usable not only over wireless and USB like other drives can, but also over a wired network when at home or the office. This simple addition along with a massive 1TB capacity in the case of the drive I’m looking at today, swiftly pushes the Voyager Air in front of the competition.
On top of the LAN connectivity and massive 1TB capacity, Corsair’s drive also houses a large capacity Li-On battery allowing for up to seven hours of use from a single charge, USB3.0 is also available to use allowing for faster direct transfers to the drive and considering this is a portable drive, there is also an in-car power adaptor allowing the device to be charged whilst on the go – ideal for those long car journeys and allowing the kids to watch their favourite episodes of Dora the Explorer on an iPad or Android tablet without having to fill both devices with content of their own.
There are certainly a lot going for the Voyager Air, but it really comes down to how well it performs in the real world. After all it’s no use if the battery doesn’t last long or the mobile app is very ropey around the edges making connecting and using the drive hard or even impossible.
Aside the drive itself, Corsair include a regional accessory pack with mains power adaptor with UK and European tip in our case (naturally US customers will get a different tip), the in-car 12V charger, a USB3.0 cable and USB to DC power cable. All this can be kept together in the included bag and a user manual gives information on how to get yourself up and running.