Watchdog: January 2008

Nathan Edwards

Roswell , watchdog of the month

Tornado Gets Sucked In By Windows Vista

The Tornado whips through large file transfers - unless you're using Vista

After reading Maximum PC’s review of the Data Drive Thru Tornado in the November issue, I purchased one; I routinely connect my laptop to another PC. The Tornado seemed like a good solution that didn’t require mucking about with mapped drives and flaky network adapters.

For the most part, the Tornado worked as advertised. However, I encountered problems when transferring a 24GB file between my laptop and a desktop computer (a Vista NTFS partition to an XP NTFS partition). Even though the laptop continued to show progress, the file on the desktop did not grow past about 4GB. When the transfer ended, I was left with 24GB on the laptop and a 4GB file on the desktop.

I attempted to contact the company using the technical support email links on its website, but the links did not work. I also tried emailing the parent company but received no response. Can you help?


The Dog contacted Data Drive Thru about Chris’s issue and a spokesman told the Dog that the company has no record of him calling or emailing the company. However, the spokesman agreed to make it right and contact Chris directly. For his part, the Dog tested the original Tornado that Maximum PC received and successfully copied a 10GB image from a Windows XP Pro machine to another Windows XP Pro machine. The original review was based on data transfers between Windows XP machines, as well. Both used NTFS, and the transfer was very fast.

The Dog did, however, have odd results when copying files between a Windows XP Pro rig and a Windows Vista Ultimate 64-bit machine. Similarly to Chris, a 48GB image file was truncated to 4GB, but a 10GB file made it through fine. The Dog spoke with a Data Drive Thru representative who said tests in its labs have been unable to reproduce such problems—large files have been repeatedly transferred using the device without a hitch. In fact, the company said only two people have complained about any problem with the device: Chris and now the Dog. Although there was no solution at press time, Data Drive Thru was closely working with the Dog and Chris to find an answer. For a solution—hopefully—watch this space. Woof.

Blame Your Butterfingers

We recently purchased a Microsoft Zune and within a few weeks, the battery overheated and bulged, which caused the screen to crack. When we tried to return the player to Radio Shack, we were told that this problem was not covered by the warranty. We then contacted Microsoft and received the same response. We were also told that we could send in the unit and have it repaired—but for almost the original price of the device. I guess this is why so many people buy iPods. I wish we could get some help here.


The Dog spoke with a Microsoft spokesperson who denied that the problem was due to a design defect. She said Microsoft engineers have looked at broken units and have determined that cracked screens are the result of impact damage. She also added that a Zune is constructed in such a fashion that a crack in the screen may not appear until sometime after the unit is dropped.

A person, for example, could drop the Zune, pick it up, and not see that the screen was damaged. However, a few days later, a crack from the previous impact might suddenly develop. That person could understandably perceive this seemingly random occurrence of damage to be an engineering defect. But the Microsoft spokesperson said that in the company’s examination of units with broken screens, all showed signs of internal impact damage indicative of a drop.

The spokesperson went on to explain that only one website——has reported that cracks in the Zune’s screens can occur when the player’s lithium-ion battery overheats and bulges against the screen. She said no other sites have reported such problems. In fact, only one percent of customers have reported broken screens, according to Microsoft, and the majority of cracks have been due to impact damage.

So who is right? That’s difficult to say. Obviously, Microsoft would not want to admit to another hardware problem following the disastrous problems with the Xbox 360. But Paul is the only person the Dog has heard from. If this were an engineering defect, we’d expect to hear from others. Perhaps they’re forthcoming, but until then, the Dog is going to take Microsoft at its word. Maybe you should be more careful, Paul.

Take It to the Store, Not Us

GeCube prefers you take your bad card to the retailer, which will decide whether to replace it.

Dog, I’ve been having problems trying to reach videocard vendor GeCube. I purchased a GeCube X1950 XT card for Folding@home use, and it stopped working with 3D applications. It has not been overclocked. GeCube has not responded to my email.

—Mark Chams

A GeCube technician got in touch with Mark before the Dog could respond to Mark’s letter. The tech explained that he had tried to contact Mark, but the email bounced. As proof, he included copies of the bounced email. The Dog was particularly struck by one portion of the tech’s message to Mark. Instead of including instructions for returning product to the company, the tech instructs Mark to take the issue up with the store where he purchased the GPU.

The email reads, in part, “GeCube has agreements with the distributors to deal with warranty issues. If you need a replacement or want to have it repaired, please contact your vendor. The local distributors have their own rules to judge whether to provide a replacement or repair services for their customers.”

It sounds like GeCube is passing the buck here. Most videocard vendors will directly warranty failed cards, and most prefer that end users contact them instead of sending parts back to the store. Under more direct questioning from the Dog, the GeCube technician finally admitted that the company would indeed warranty cards directly if the store goes out of business or if the card was a gift (a fact he failed to mention to Mark in his initial email). The consumer would have to pay to ship the card to GeCube, but it would at least be fixed.

For Mark, the issue was moot. Unhappy with GeCube’s response, Mark did go back to his vendor. “It was really impossible to deal with GeCube,” Mark told the Dog. “Lucky for me, Newegg kicks ass and simply RMA’d the card for me as a courtesy. I have no idea what Newegg will do with the damaged one—hopefully, return it to GeCube, but I didn’t ask.” The Dog agrees that GeCube’s warranty support could use some improving.

Made of Vaporanium

Call me skeptical, but I have a hard time believing that this deal from is really true. The company claims it has a laptop for sale with an Intel Celeron 1.5GHz CPU, a 14-inch widescreen X-bright LCD, 256MB RAM, a 40GB hard drive, 802.11g wireless LAN, an optimized Linux operating system, and preinstalled office and multimedia applications—all for $150.

While it’s not a power-user rig, it’s not bad for the price. That’s why I’m asking you, Dog, is it for real or too good to be true?

—Ryan Hardy

Call it too good to be true. So what exactly is going on with Sweden-based Medison? That’s not clear, but your chances of actually getting the notebook you refer to are pretty much zilch. Nevertheless, when Medison announced the notebook, plenty of people decided to gamble $150 on the deal being for real.

By August, Medison had failed to ship any computers, but it did hold a press conference to allay people’s fears and said that the notebooks would ship later that month. But as of this writing, no one has reported receiving the company’s computers. In fact, the Dog could not find any instance of a customer actually receiving the notebook by the promised date.

Valdi Ivancic, Medison’s managing director, told Computer Sweden that the company wasn’t running a scam and invited anyone who couldn’t wait to cancel their orders. In fact, Ivancic said, the credit card company that took the orders,, would not actually put the charges through until the notebooks ship. Until then, the company will only place a hold on the charge.

During the interview, Ivancic, who is reportedly a 90 percent stakeholder in the company and a former politician, said he is also considering running for prime minister. OK, that’s just plain whacky.

The company also claims it has bought a Brazilian company to help manage the logistics on the nonexistent product (which would what? Be shipped from Taiwan or China to be repackaged in Brazil?). If that isn’t odd enough, the company says it doesn’t plan to make any profit from selling the notebooks but instead expects to generate revenue by selling ad space on its website. The Dog believes Ivancic has a better chance of becoming prime minister than of his business model working out. Woof.

Got a bone to pick with a vendor? Been spiked by a fly-by-night operation? Sic the Dog on them by writing . The Dog promises to answer as many letters as possible, but only has four paws to work with.

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