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Author Archives: Ian Chiu

Hitachi Touro 3TB USB 3.0 Drive Reviewed, Verdict: Superior Real World Performance.

Hitachi has rolled out a few external hard drives that boast business class speed in a consumer form factor. While not as sleek as some other available externals, the Hitachi Touro 3TB USB 3.0 is big enough and fast enough to justify the missing sleek. It does seem to be much improved over the previous versions and many of the aesthetic concerns are explained by the need to dissipate heat on this caliber of drive. The high platter count and 7200-rpm spindle speed require design concerns that supersede fashion.

The Hitachi Touro also tops out most charts for single drive read and write performance. There are better performing drives out there but not at this price point. Besides being a genuinely good buy, the drive shows above average performance with small files. Tiny files, which are what most average users deal with pose a big challenge for hard drives. This drive shows signs of having been tweaked with extra cache to make it handle real world file use much better as opposed to artificially created large test files. If you are in the market for a beefy external drive of the USB 3.0 variety, you can get more details in a review at Everything USB.

[Full Review @ Everything USB]

Logitech G300 Gaming Mouse Reviewed. Verdict: Left Handed Home Run.

The market for gaming mice is very healthy these days. Anyone making gaming devices, wishing to garner more than a sliver of purchases from the gaming world at large has to do something pretty amazing, or do something subtle really well. Logitech has tackled the latter with their latest G300. The gaming mouse doesn’t have an excessive amount of buttons or an obscene amount of DPI resolution or wildly adjustable parts. What it does have is class and the ability to suit both left and right handed players without looking like a cybernetic monstrosity. “Less is more” doesn’t do the G300 justice as they do more with less, better than most competitors do with “way too much”.

The G300 sports 9 programmable buttons, much more than can usually be supported by ambidextrous enabled devices, and doesn’t waste time on excessive programming support. Many of us gamers getting into our golden years don’t have the time or the patience to deal with tweaking to that level. Maybe it does it more justice to call this a mature mouse than an unsophisticated one. It has clean lines and an almost too narrow body that help fingers easily locate all the buttons. The G300 does add an uncharacteristically gamer-ish backlighting which is giving more sway to the Razer style that Logitech normally does. The only other ‘tamed’ feature that might actually be missed is the 1990′s era scroll wheel.

[Full Review @ Everything USB]

SIIG USB 3.0 Card, Hub Upgrade Kit Reviewed. Verdict: Good not Great.

If you plan on getting one or two USB 3.0 devices, then you need to shop for an USB 3.0 add-on card. SIIG has a USB 3.0 card kit that is worth checking out. The biggest draw of the kit is the included 5.25 and 3.5″ hub bay. This gives you all the function of a USB 3.0 hub, providing 4 fully powered ports on the front of your computer. Buying long USB 3.0 cables and a hub just to be able to use another USB 3.0 card gets expensive fast. SuperSpeed peripherals aren’t readily available yet nor cheap so this kit definitely offers some advantages for the all-in-one purchase.

The only major caveat of this setup is in some of the cheaper choices that could affect performance. USB 3.0 requires a huge data path, one that many manufacturers struggle to fully enable. The SIIG card only has a PCI Express x1 lane while other cards have opted for an x4. The front facing hub draws power hassle-free from the internal power connectors of your system but all 4 of the USB 3.0 ports have to share 1 connection to the card. These choices could affect “intense use” performance. Everything USB’s review has some detailed findings on what you can expect out of this card for casual and intense use alike. General opinion is that it’s more than capable but might not be all that you’d expect for the price tag.

[Full Review @ Everything USB]

Logitech C910 HD Pro Webcam Reviewed, Verdict: Nice Evolutionary Upgrade.

Logitech has advanced its webcam line recently with the release of the C910 HD Pro Webcam. They continue on with their core line of peripherals and while not being able to boast of any exciting new hardware features they have polished and refined their latest with considerable software improvements. While the current ‘best’ resolution for video is 1080p, current bus, bandwidth and hardware limitations have made this a bit of a unicorn for shared video. The technology base just isn’t available to reliably support that much streaming data. Logitech has opted to stick with refining 720p software solutions. Their hardware, Carl Zeiss Tessar lens and 5 megapixel sensor, could easily do 1080p but our USB 2.0 systems and bottlenecked Internet providers just can’t keep up. The vastly improved image software makes the best of whatever video signal you can muster and adjust light levels quickly and effectively.

This latest, the C910 HD, adds the “Pro” moniker in deference to the business software that’s been included. In the past, many webcams have been targeted at friends and family video chats but many businesses are now adopting person to person video conferencing as a daily part of your job. Logitech has answered this new direction with the inclusion of a trial version of FastAccess, a facial recognition and security software. While the results of the first round of tests have been mixed on the security, the over feeling is that Logitech has continued to move their product forward. For an exposé on all the new functions and any glaring weaknesses, head over to Everything USB for full review.

[Full Review @ Everything USB]

Zero Basic Mini Cooper Flash Drive, Verdict: Cute, Definitely Mini

By Ian Chiu

Mini Cooper makes one of the world’s most adored cars and is driven by some of the most fanatical drivers. The Mini Cooper flash drive from Zero Basic has immortalized some of the more classic models delivered. The long history of the little car that’s won the hearts of so many of its owners stretches back more than 50 years. The varied life and many uses of the Mini has been produced as almost a diorama of the most notable stages.

Each Mini Cooper flash drive sports 4GB of storage in a highly detailed rendition of 11 selected historic versions. With details down to tire treads and working headlights, the drives are made to cater to the hearts of Mini Cooper fans. The USB plug is also cleverly hidden away inside the trunk of the car and can be easily flipped out with a switch on the undercarriage. A sampling of the drives and a mini-history of each can be found at Everything USB.

[Full Review @ Everything USB]

Microsoft Touch Mouse Hands-on. Verdict: Interesting But Not Revolutionary

By EverythingUSB

Presumably in response to the Apple Magic Mouse which mates a multi-touch touchpad to the top surface of a desktop mouse, we now have access to Microsoft’s take on the idea. The almost all-terrain BluTrack laser is heart of the Microsoft Touch Mouse and its performance isn’t in question. The BluTrack system is a proven performer on just about any surface and only sips on batteries delivering long life. The top of the mouse, from the button area to the rear palm-swell are all touch sensitive. With two thirds of the mouse being touch sensitive, Redmond has delivered a handful (pun-intended) of gestures to leave that old school, mechanical, 3 button number in the dust.

The gestures are enabled by software, which are currently only available for Windows 7. They are not currently highly configurable but that may change over time. There are only about 10 available gestures including single finger scrolling and a clever forward/backward thumb control. Custom gestures are not currently on the road map for this device but software upgrades and later models may evolve to this function. Only recently available to consumers, previous impressions were from brief exposures at trade shows and have been mixed. While many have been ready for the touch enabled surface, many are hesitant once they feel the absence of tactile buttons. For a more thorough review of how it fared after prolonged use surf over to Everything USB.

[MS Touch Mouse Review - Everything USB]

Seagate GoFlex Slim Tiny Drive Review. Verdict: Thin Is In

Seagate has revised and shrunk its GoFlex portable storage down to a stylish new minimum. Now called Goflex Slim, The svelte drive – based on 7mm-thick Momentus Thin 320GB – is barely bigger than a regular 9.5mm 2.5-inch notebook drive. Somehow, they’ve managed to maintain the GoFlex option on this newly miniaturized drive. The GoFlex system allows you to change out the connector to switch between USB 2.0, eSATA, USB 3.0, etc. They’ve also upgraded the software that comes pre-loaded onto the drive from Basic to Premium.

If you already have a GoFlex drive, your connector cables will still be compatible. Older model connectors will work but they might look a little bulky compared to this wafer thin drive. This latest model is about as thick as a #2 pencil and should travel well with or without a laptop adding no more size and weight than your average cell phone. The internal hard drive has been upgraded to 7200-rpm which should provide an appreciable increase in access time performance. Check out the detailed performance stats reviewed at Everything USB.

[ Full Review @ Everything USB ]

Logitech N600 Touch Lapdesk Reviewed. Verdict: Liberating.

By Paul McCollum

If you’ve ever tried to use your laptop away from a table or desk, chances are you’ve wished for some sort of lapdesk.  Turns out that enough people have struggled with the awkward balancing act and leg burning that there’s now a big lapdesk market. The lapdesk is primarily an insulating slab or air circulation enhancement and Logitech has taken it one step further adding different accessories into the device like speakers, fans and now a touchpad in the Logitech N600 Touch Lapdesk.

The N600 Touch Lapdesk looks similar to the other nondescript lapboard trays except that this one has a slide out tray bearing a 5″ multi-touchpad.  A huge improvement on other models, the N600′s connections to the laptop are wireless.  Sporting a hidden compartment, the tiny Unifying receiver fits almost flush within a USB port.  Sans tether, the Lapdesk has to rely on 4 AA batteries for power. Logitech estimates that these will last 6 months.  To check out how well the Lapdesk lives up to those and other promises, peruse a write up at Everything USB.

[Full Review @ Everything USB]

Razer Mamba 4G Gaming Mouse Reviewed. Verdict: A Very Worthy Successor

By Paul McCollum

While the sun may have set on the WoW culture of non-stop, never leave the house obsessed gamers, the love of PC gaming still lives on. Fans of faster games are as competitive as ever and always looking for every edge to get them one more capture or one more kill. Razer thrives of the frenzy of hardcore gamers and produces some of the finest gaming accessories available. Recently they updated their wildly popular Mamba mouse with dual sensors: laser and optical. Again the Mamba mouse has a split personality, it can operate in both wired and wireless modes.

Razer has also included highly customizable software for programming its 7 buttons and even the LED backlight color of the scroll wheel. Adaptive sensitivity and variable acceleration as well as other values can be saved into multiple profiles to accommodate different needs for games or work. Razer threw in more than a few updates to this now classic palm-fitting mouse and retained almost all of the attributes that made it great. To see more details on the upgrades and performance, check out the full review at Everything USB.

[ Full Review @ Everything USB ]