We’ve seen various USB transfer devices over the years, and for the most part they’ve been clunky and sloooow. Not so with Data Drive Thru’s Tornado, which blew into our Lab and impressed the hell out of us. Essentially a coiled, flat USB 2.0 cable that retracts into a plastic housing, the Tornado works by plugging into the Hi-Speed USB ports of two PCs running a newer Windows OS (Millennium, 2000, XP, or Vista). A basic file-transfer application executes from a bit of flash memory in the device, which allows you to simply drag and drop files between the two rigs. Similar cables from other companies force you to install software to transfer files.
Olympus’s Stylus 780 packs a 7.1 megapixel sensor, a 5x optical zoom, a crisp 2.5-inch LCD, and face-detection technology into a weatherproof camera body that is slightly larger but more stylish than the Sony DSC-W80’s.
From a design perspective, the Seagate FreeAgent Pro is nearly perfect. The company has turned out a device that looks, dare we say, Apple-esque. Or maybe Orange-esque, the prevailing color that glows and pulsates through the middle of the drive’s tower-like drive holder.
We’ll get the bad news out of the way first. QNAP’s TS-109 Pro NAS device is more an enclosure than a NAS box–the storage part of the equation is BYO. Thankfully, NAS devices’ speeds are primarily determined by the connection and the interface of the device itself–purchase a decent hard drive, you’ll be sticking it into one of the fastest NAS boxes we’ve tested.
We like fancy gaming mice. We like them for their super-accurate sensors, their adjustable resolutions, and the veritable cornucopia of buttons that grace their frames. But above all, a gaming mouse has to remain comfortable during marathon wrist-crippling gaming sessions, which is where the new Sidewinder really falls apart.
The gap between cheap and inexpensive widens to a yawning chasm when you’re talking audio gear, which is why we’re so pleasantly surprised with the Rocketfish gaming headset. We didn’t realize this was a Best Buy private-label product until after we’d given it a listen, but we’re glad we didn’t dismiss it out of hand.
One of the reasons we picked Turtle Beach’s Ear Force HPA2 headset as one of the 19 awesome upgrades we recommended in our June 2007 issue was the fact that it’s analog and can be paired with a soundcard. The new Ear Force AK-R8 is USB only, but this enables it to offer some compelling features in addition to fabulous surround sound.
Netgear’s WNR854T was faster than any other router in this roundup in our close-range tests, lost the least amount of potency while running WEP security, and came in second in our 40-foot test, bested by D-Link’s DIR-655. But Netgear’s entry was several times slower than D-Link’s in our 150-foot test. (See page 70 for benchmark details.)
It’s difficult to improve on something that’s already damn near perfect. That’s the problem Logitech faced when designing the follow-up to the kick-ass G5 gaming mouse. The new G9 features an innovative, but not necessarily improved, design.