Leave it to Brando to really talk up a product. The “Rii Mini Wireless Keyboard” is apparently pretty awesome if you take their word for it. It has 26 “dazzling” LEDs backlighting the keyboard. As if that wasn’t enough to sell you, it is designed to be easy to carry; by being small apparently. Then there’s the “notebook trackpad”. If you still have doubts, just remember this: it also has a laser pointer. How can they power all this awesome? Well the Rii Mini Wireless Keyboard has a “Built-in rechargeable more staying power lithium-ion battery”.
In all seriousness though, it doesn’t look like a terrible solution for a media center PC controller. The keyboard layout looks a bit awkward with the trackpad shifting the keys to the left. It uses a standard 2.4GHz wireless radio with a 30 meter range. The price is a little steep at $92. That’s maybe too much until you consider that you get “iPhone style craft, classic style” according to Brando. Get it here, if you wish.
It’s been a long time since we reviewed a USB external drive—not since November 2008, to be exact—mostly because they’re essentially commodities now. With transfers capped at USB 2.0 speeds and drive sizes mostly standardized, portable hard drives have had few features by which to distinguish themselves from their peers—the usefulness of included software, eSATA support, and full-disk encryption among them. On the eve of USB 3.0 drives, the Western Digital My Book Elite 2TB seems to be the state of the USB 2.0 drive art, with a custom e-ink display. But is it more than a gimmick?
The My Book Elite shares the vaguely book-like formfactor of the My Book World and Essential lineups, but along its “spine” is the e-ink display, which shows a custom 12-character drive label, a capacity meter, and a little lock icon if you’ve enabled disk encryption. Despite its limited usefulness, we dig it—mostly because we geek out over any applications with e-ink.
We're expecting big things from the USB 3.0 spec, but that doesn't mean it's time to write USB 2.0's obituary. Case in point: Corsair today just unleashed a new family of flash USB drives -- Flash Voyager GTR -- designed for the USB 2.0 interface.
The biggest feature of the new flash drive family is the quad-channel architecture. According to Corsair, this makes it possible to reach read speeds up to 34MB/s and write speeds up to 28MB/s. Corsair says these are real-world figures too, as demonstrated by the company's in-house testing "against a major competitor's 128GB 'fast' flash drive."
"As we continue to digitize the sights, sounds, movies, and business of our everyday lives, we need better and better ability to transport our data and access it quickly," stated John Beekley, VP of Technical Marketing at Corsair. "The Flash voyager GTR combines to the best features of a USB flash drive and the performance of an external hard drive to provide the ultimate data portability tool."
In addition to 128GB, the new drive series will also be available in 32GB and 64GB capacities. No word yet on price.
Cell carriers have been cashing in on mobile broadband in the last few years. If customers want to avoid a contract, the USB modem has to be purchased at full price and there’s no break on the monthly bills. A company called Telava intends to upend that model. The so-called “Broadband Bullet” is a prepaid USB data stick that you don’t even have to buy.
The Bullet is piggybacking on T-Mobile’s 3G network, so coverage isn’t going to be as expansive as Verizon might be. The device will operate on both HSPA 7.2Mbps and HSPA+ 12Mbps networks. The USB modem also has a microSD card slot for storage.
The cost is probably the real attention getter here. That business about not buying it? Yep, just leave a $100 security deposit and bring it back when you’re done. You can also buy it outright for $200, but why would you? Service is $50 per month for 5GB of data, and $60 for unlimited bandwidth. This is certainly of note seeing as the actual cell carriers usually won’t even sell you an uncapped data plan anymore. Not a bad deal for contract-free data. Color us intrigued.
Security rivals thermal paste as the most important thing you have to keep in mind when building or using a system. Every bit of software on your PC should be updated; every external access point into your digital life, closed. There's no reason why you should be handing over the keys to the castle to random Internet strangers. Powerful virus protection, a strong firewall, and a bit of common sense -- among other tricks -- will go far to preserve your fortress of a system.
Now that's all well and good for the desktop in your living room, but what about third-party machines? We've all had to jump on a system over which we've had no control--no observance or administrative rights to ensure that every bit of the operating system checked out to ideal security standards. You can always head over the falls in a barrel and type your passwords and login credentials blindly, with no foresight or worries that you're inputting valuable information on a potentially infected machine. That, or you can do what I'd do: Make sure that your every keystroke and action is somehow safeguarded through the use of portable applications that you can carry on a storage device of your choice (cough USB key cough).
And that's exactly what I'll be exploring in this week's Freeware Files: Five awesome portable apps that you can carry with you to increase your security presence on a PC that isn't yours. These aren't panaceas--you'll still want to be as critical and as cautious as you would previously. However, they're a step in the right direction toward (hopefully) a data-leak-free lifestyle.
You can probably stop trying to cram that external hard drive into your pocket. Kingston may have just solved your portable storage woes with the DataTraveler 310. The 310 is a standard USB flash drive, except it has 256GB of storage. The DataTraveler 300 is a nearly identical unit sold only overseas. The 310 finally lets American buyers get in on the fun. It will be plug and play on Windows, Mac, and Linux.
This is the first flash drive of its size to ship in the US. As such, the DataTraveler 310 commands a premium. The MSRP is going to be $1,108 at launch, but you might be able to find a deal. Well, “deal” is relative here. You’re still looking at paying around a grand for portable storage; granted it is a lot of storage. The DataTraveler 310 could hold 54 uncompressed DVDs or more mp3s than you can shake a stick at.
Can you think of a reason you’d need this much storage on your keychain? Note, “because it’s cool,” is not an acceptable reason. Is there a price at which you’d run out and pick one of these up?
If you’ve got any VHS, Beta or 8mm tapes that still need digitized, your list of hardware choices has increased by one. Buffalo Technology of Japan has introduced the PC-SDVD/U2G USB dongle, which allows easy hook-up and transfer of all your old-school video.
It’s a simple little thing, really. It offers RCA jacks for video and audio and an S-Video jack, which are connected to your PC via a USB port. In this respect it’s not all that much different from other products now on the market, such as the Dazzle DVD Recorder, the Sabrent TV-USB20, or theStarTech.com S-Video to USB 2.0 Video Capture Cable.
The PC-SDVD/U2G also comes with software, compatible with Windows 7, that performs the capture and outputs to MPEG1, MPEG2, PSP, or iPod. The software also has some rudimentary editing capability, has a noise reduction feature, and appears to burn straight to DVD.
The PC-SDVD/U2G is capable of relaying real-time video. You can hook up your Sony Betamax to your PC and watch all your prized episodes of Kolchack: The Night Stalker, or, as Buffalo suggests, plug-in your video game console.
The PC-SDVD/U2G is a bit pricey, listed at about $59 (¥5,300), and it’s currently available only in Japan so Kolchack will have to wait a little longer.
USB 3.0 devices are slowly trickling out, but who actually has any USB 3.0 ports to take advantage of them? Those in the market for a new PC or motherboard can get the new standard, but everyone else has to wait. Well, unless they have $40 lying around.
Tokyo-based electronics maker Greenhouse will be releasing a PCI Express PC interface card with two USB 3.0 ports. The firm is claiming the card will be capable of full 5 Gbps transfer speeds. Only time will tell if real world speeds will be that good. The card will be compatible with Windows XP, Vista, and 7. At a mere $40, it’s worth a shot.
After our USB 3.0 coverage last week, we figured it would be a good time to turn our attention back to USB 2.0 (aka High Speed), and one of the classic nerd hobbies: USB hacking. Because of its highly-accessible wiring, USB can be easily modified for all sorts of purposes, even by neophyte hardware hackers. In the past, we've shown you how to perform some simple hacks, but now we want to highlight some of our favorite hacks created by members of the DIY community.
Some are of questionable utility, some of them are downright dangerous, but all of them are good, old-fashioned fun. Read on for our picks for the 10 most amazing USB hacks!
The USB 3.0 rollout is long overdue and the overwhelming popularity of external drives as a backup medium is part of the reason why. Sure, those fancy new ports will work with your mouse, but if that's what you're waiting for, your kind of missing the point. If however you have access to an eSATA port for your external drive, you might want to hold off on USB 3.0 upgrades, at least for now.
A new benchmark released by the crew over at CrunchGear has revealed that USB 3.0 leaves a bit to be desired speed wise, at least in its early iterations and needs a bit more time to mature. Transfer speeds so far have been much slower than the theoretical maximum, but hopefully this will improve over time.
Of course USB 3.0 isn't all about speed. The new bus specification is also intended to accommodate the next generation of power hungry gadgets and drives, and also holds a pretty healthy advantage over eSATA when you start looking at long cable runs. The point here is not to rag on USB 3.0, rather it is simply intended as a friendly reminder that eSATA isn't obsolete just yet.