Whether you own an iPod touch, Zune HD, Nintendo DSi, or any number of other portable devices, there's one tool that makes easy work out of ripping DVDs and converting incompatible video files into manageable formats: Handbrake. This wonderful utility has just about everything you could ask for, including robust compatibility, a slick interface, and snappy performance. And if that weren't enough, the developers have chosen to give the program away for free, no strings (or trialware) attached.
We realize we're probably preaching to the choir and there's a good chance you've used Handbrake before, if not frequently. But do you know how to create, backup, and transfer your own custom settings for the Xbox 360, PS3, and other popular media players not included by default? Do you know how to encode a copy protected DVD with the least amount off fuss? We do, and on the following pages, we'll guide you through a series of advanced tips for getting the most out of Handbrake.
USB 2.0 may have reigned supreme for most of 2009, but now it's USB 3.0's time to shine in the limelight. Wasting no time in the new year, Seagate used CES to unveil its BlackArmor PS110 USB 3.0 portable external hard drive "performance kit" designed for laptops.
"As people continue to amass vast libraries of high-definition photos, movies, and music, the storage needs of US households are forecast to grow more than ten times between 2009 and 2013, and the average digital media storage requirements will exceed a terabyte by 2013," said Kurt Schreff, vice president and principle analyst of Parks Associates.
Seagate's latest BlackArmor extrnal HDD kit packs a 500GB 7200RPM 2.5-inch portable hard drive, power cable, and PC Express card. And because it's built around the new SuperSpeed USB 3.0 spec, Seagate says you can expect sustained transfer rates in the neighborhood of 100MB/s, which is three times faster than current USB 2.0 devices, the company claims. That boils down to transferring a 25GB HD movie in about 4 minutes, compared to 14 minutes using a USB 2.0 drive.
Seagate says the new drive is available now with an MSRP set at $180.
The non-profit science and nature nuts managed to cram "120 years of amazing discoveries, fascinating maps, and the world's best photography" into a portable 160GB hard drive. The Complete National Geographic collection includes every issue of the popular magazine digitally reproduced in high resolution.
At $200, it's also the most you're ever likely to spend on a 160GB external drive, and if that's too steep, you can kick it old school (and risk being labeled an old fart) with the 6-DVD version for $60.
There's always some jackass at every party who still thinks it's funny to push people into the pool while fully clothed. What if they were carrying around a portable hard drive filled with family photos, work documents, government secrets, and other data that's now drenched in water and chlorine?
Yeah, that's probably never happened to anyone in the history of portable hard drives, but there's always a first. If you're lugging around A-Data's new SH93 mobile drive, you won't have to lose any sleep at night wondering what you'd do in exactly that situation. Heck, you wouldn't even need to get out of the pool right away, because according to A-Data, it's SH93 portable HDD, wrapped in a rubber-plastic mix and special cushion materials, has passed the 1M waterproof test for 30 minutes. Go ahead and practice your backstroke!
You could even drop it out of a second story window for a quck air-dry. After all, the rugged drive also passed the military standard MIL-STD-810F drop test.
Available in 250GB, 320GB, 500GB, and 640GB capacities, you'll probably never subject your portable HDD to the above abuses, but hey, it's good to know you can fumble your beer while watching the Super Bowl and not worry about frying your portable backup.
Amazon may not have invented the e-book, but it sure did popularize the genre of electronics with its Kindle reader, and now everyone wants in on the action. The latest with intent to enter the e-book fray is Time, Inc., says Owen Thomas from NBCBayArea.com, who claims to have seen an internal document detailing the company's intention.
According to Thomas, the presentation, titled "New Platforms & Business Models for Publishers," is dated June 25, 2009 and contains handwritten notes updating the paper. Thomas says the presentation was circulated as recently as August, which would indicate that Time, Inc. plans to make a move within the next few months.
"We're speaking with a number of hardware and software companies as well as other content companies about various projects," said Time, Inc. spokeswoman Dawn Bridges when asked about the project. "At this point we don't have anything else to say publicly."
Thomas says the presentation points out Time, Inc.'s awareness of the publishing opportunity presented by the emergence of e-book readers and other portable reading devices, and "whoever defines the interface wins."
In the interest of bolstering their line of portable hard drives, Samsung recently announced their newest 1.8-inch drive, which supports capacities up to 250GB.
The new drive, known as the Spinpoint N3U, will come with a native USB controller instead of a PATA controller, allowing it to work without any data conversion. This also provides fewer potential points of failure. The drive will use up to 40 percent less power than a drive of similar capacity, and can withstand a free fall drop of up to 50 centimeters.
Shipments are slated to begin in mid-July, and the drive is expected to cost $199.
If you're like me, your USB key should come with its own flame retardant coating. That's because I tend to use my little four-gigabyte device to great excess on a near-daily basis. It's an easy fix for transferring files from a desktop PC to a laptop, and it's great for carrying batches of files I need to access (especially if I'm without an Internet connection, making Dropbox useless). If I'm heading over to a friend's house, I can slap a movie on the drive for us to watch on an attached PC or home theater device. I can throw down a game or two if I'm going to be travelling and don't feel like reading about overpriced devices that will pet my cat for me. USB keys are more than just a geek's trusty friends. They're uber-tools in their own right.
Application suites for USB keys are another popular way of extending the functionality of your desktop into the portable realm. Install these batches of software and you can take your favorite programs along with you wherever you go--perfect for when you're using a computer that isn't yours, yet you would prefer to be able to access to a better range of apps than Windows' default programs. Better still, you can stick these batches of applications on smaller USB keys to extend the life of these sub-gigabyte devices. The storage might stink, but the functionality will rule.
Click the jump to check out five, freeware application suites that will dazzle up your USB key faster than you can say, "universal serial bus."
A-Data's newest external hard drives employ you to "enjoy technology with a touch of style." And by that, A-Data means you should decide between rolling with sweet pink, sapphire blue, purple, or a white color scheme for your portable storage needs.
The color selection comes courtesy of A-Data's CH91 external HDD line. Coated in a metal-like paint spray, the new drives are available in capacities up to 500GB (250GB and 320GB also available) and support Microsoft's ReadyBoost technology. The USB powered drives measure 134mm x 82mm x 16.7mm, feature a blinking LED to indicate power and activity, and comes with a USB Y cable, suede pouch, and backup software.
If you still get warm and fuzzy thinking about those James Garner and Mariette Hartley Polaroid commercials, it’s time to let go of the past. Traditional film is barely hanging on, and Polaroid has completely ceased production of instant film.
But Polaroid hasn’t abandoned its interest in prints. The company is trying to rekindle the instant-print picture industry with its new Polaroid PoGo portable printer. This 4.75”x2.75”x1” device is the first to use Zink Imaging’s Zero Ink paper. Instead of shooting dots of ink onto a piece of paper, the PoGo uses a thermal head to heat up tiny crystals embedded in each sheet of paper.
Sounds rad, eh? Find out the skinny after the jump.
Power users who have dreamed of outfitting their portable backup solution in a RAID 0 array can now do so thanks to Addonics' new Portable Dual Drive RAID enclosure (AE25RDESU). Nervous Nellies are covered too, with RAID 1 providing a backup for your backup. The handheld device accepts up to two 2.5-inch SATA drives inside its "heat resistant aluminum" chassis, or pick up the optional SATA-CF hard disk adapter and install up to four CompactFlash cards. Other notable features include:
Easy installation and removal of hard drive
USB 2.0/1.1 and eSATA support
RAID configuration with DIP switch or GUI configuration
Supports RAID 0, RAID 1, JBOD, BIG (Concatenation), SAFE50, SAFE33, or GUI mod using built-in hardware RAID
Can be powered by USB port
For backup duties Addonics throws in DriveClone software and the device itself includes a backup button the company claims "can be configured to provide the convenience of one button backup of any critical files or folders."
Pricing has been set to $100 and can be purchased now.