A quick project to give you all the USB chargers you could want

Subject: General Tech | March 13, 2014 - 02:31 PM |
Tagged: usb, charger, DIY

Over at Hack a Day is a guide on how to convert your old chargers for devices you no longer use into a useful charger with a USB plug.  They will need to be of the 5V variety and provide at least 500 mA in order to be useful with today's gadgets with 1A being preferable; don't go so high you are at risk of killing your device though.  Apple fanatics will have to do the usual modifications to convince their iThing to accept a charge but most other devices won't care if the charger is home made or not, they just want the USB.  Do try not to set yourself or any of your possessions on fire by not testing your charger thoroughly before leaving it unattended.

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"If you’re like us, you probably have a box (or more) of wall warts lurking in a closet or on a shelf somewhere. Depending on how long you’ve been collecting cell phones, that box is likely overflowing with 5V chargers: all with different connectors."

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Source: Hack a Day

CES 2014: Corsair Flash Voyager GO - closer look

Subject: Storage, Shows and Expos | January 8, 2014 - 02:20 AM |
Tagged: usb, On-The-Go, Flash Voyager GO, flash, corsair, CES 2014, CES

Earlier today, Corsair announced the Flash Voyager GO combination micro USB (OTG spec) / USB 3.0 (standard connector) drive. Being the storage nut that I am, I got a closer look while the rest of the PCPer gang were checking out the new cases, keyboards, and power supplies. Here are some more detailed pics for your viewing pleasure:

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Connected to an Android smart phone:

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Connected to a laptop:

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Yes, you're seeing things correctly. The 'back' end opposite the micro-USB port is actually another USB port supporting USB 3.0 speeds.

Coverage of CES 2014 is brought to you by AMD!

PC Perspective's CES 2014 coverage is sponsored by AMD.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

Could it be true? A reversible USB plug!

Subject: General Tech | December 4, 2013 - 12:39 PM |
Tagged: usb, obvious, reversible

Backwards compatibility is a big issue for PC users who do not want to have to constantly upgrade everything from connectors to add-in cards every time they do a small upgrade.  That compatibility comes with a cost, many devices which should have been allowed to die long ago still live on.  It is possible that one such abomination may be going away in the near future, the trapezoidal USB plug that only connects in one orientation.  The USB Type-C connector will be square, similar in size to the current USB 2.0 Micro-B plug found on non-fruit based cellphones and most importantly it will not have a specific orientation required to connect.  Hopefully Slashdot isn't discussing something too good to be true.

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"Extreme bandwidth is nice, intelligent power management is cool... but folks should be spilling into the streets in thankful praise that the next generation miniature USB connector will fit either way. All told — just how many intricate miracle devices have been scrapped in their prime — because a tiny USB port was mangled? For millennia untold chimpanzees and people have been poking termite mounds with round sticks. I for one am glad to see round stick technology make its way into consumer electronics. Death to the trapezoid, bring back the rectangle!"

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Source: Slashdot

Video Perspective: Anker E150 5V / 5A 5-Port USB Wall Charger

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | December 3, 2013 - 10:32 AM |
Tagged: video, usb, charger, anker

In my eternal goal to find the perfect USB charging solution for my varied use cases, I came across a 5-port unit from a company called Anker that is as close as I have found thus far.  My needs are pretty concrete: lots of ports, high power to those ports and the ability to sit on a desk or table.  The Anker E150 5V/5A 5-port wall charger is pretty close.

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Though ideally I would like to see more than 5 ports, this capacity seems to be reasonable for most people with the standard allotment of electronics.  As the name suggests, the Anker unit maxes out at 5A of output TOTAL for all 5 ports, though each port is rated at different amperage.  The two ports labeled iPad will output up to 2.1A, the rest vary a bit.

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Obviously the total amp output of those ports goes PAST the 5A maximum of the unit, so expect charging to slow down if you have all ports populated.  I also wish that Anker would just label the outputs with their respective amperage rather than attempting to get product SEO with the current naming scheme. 

Even better, the Anker E150 5V/5A 5-port wall charger can be picked up at Amazon for an impulse purchase price of $19!

Check out my full video overview below!!

Everything you wanted to know about safe charging but were afraid to ask

Subject: General Tech | September 16, 2013 - 01:33 PM |
Tagged: usb, cellphone, security

The USB condom is an adapter which disables the two data ports present on your USB connector to prevent a malicious charger from installing interesting things on your smartphone, if you decide to stick it into a strange charger.  Many will immediately point out that this device is much larger than a simple power adapter which makes it easier to leave behind as well as being large enough to hide nasties of its own, so you wouldn't want to borrow someones condom.  If you read through the comments on Slashdot you can pick up some interesting problems that this device could cause, from devices which refuse to charge without their data connections active to devices which actively communicate the amount of power they will accept for a charge.  It is unlikely your device would have an expected amperage less than the USB spec and go up in flames but it is worth knowing that the possibility exists.

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"Yep, a USB condom. That term is mostly a dose of marketing brilliance, which is to say that grabs your attention while also serving as an apt description of the product. A little company called int3.cc has developed a product—a USB condom—that blocks the data pins in your USB device while leaving the power pins free. Thus, any time you need to plug a device such as a smartphones into a USB port to charge it—let's say at a public charging kiosk or a coworker's computer--you don't have to worry about compromising any data or contracting some nasty malware. It's one of those simple solutions that seems so obvious once someone came up with it."

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Source: Slashdot

StarTech.com releases IDE-capable external USB docking station

Subject: Storage | April 11, 2012 - 10:33 PM |
Tagged: usb, Startech, IDE, dock

StarTech has always had a rather large line of external USB and eSATA HDD docks, but up until now most have been limited to SATA connectivity. Now they have released a dock that's able to connect to IDE hard drives as well! It pulls off this trick by including a short IDE ribbon cable that can connect to the back of the unit (see pic below).

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MinION USB Stick Can Sequence DNA In Seconds

Subject: General Tech | February 20, 2012 - 08:45 PM |
Tagged: usb, portable, minion, dna

According to an article in New Scientist, a UK firm called Oxford Nanopore has managed to build a DNA sequencer into what looks to be an overweight USB stick. They have named the device the MinION, and it will sell for $900 later this year. It can be used to sequence DNA with as many as 10,000 base pairs in one continuous read. While it can sequence a human genome in about 6 hours, they intend the device to be used to sequence shorter genomes with tasks like identifying pathogens and screening for genetic mutations that can lead to diseases.

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The company demonstrated the MinION in action recently at the Advances in Genome Biology and Technology conference where it sequenced Phi X, a virus with 5,000 genetic base pairs. A bioinformatician at Pallen Research Group stated that "Phi X was the first DNA genome to be sequenced ever" and that if it can be sequenced than much larger genomes can be as well.

In addition to the portable MinION, the company is developing a larger scale GridION for lab work that requires more processing horsepower. The sequencing technology in the MinION and GridION operate "like a tickertape reader" by unzipping the DNA using enzymes and electricity.

The article author states that the MinION and portable DNA sequencers like it are going to greatly enhance public health and medicine. When doctors will be able to carry around portable DNA sequencers, they will be able to quickly diagnose genetic issues and identify viruses and other pathogens. Sounds pretty cool (if a bit scary) to me!

Victorinox SSD makes its debut at CES - 1TB thumb drive connected via USB or eSATA

Subject: Storage, Shows and Expos | January 10, 2012 - 08:39 PM |
Tagged: CES, usb, ssd, eSATA

Victorinox stopped me in my tracks while walking around the Pepcom Digital Experience last night. I'd heard there was a 1TB USB drive, but assumed it would be one of those things that was purely a concept and wouldn't be out for another year or two. Then I saw this:

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That larger drive (center left) is a *working* 1TB SSD in a thumb drive form factor. Sure it's on the larger side, but it's no bigger than the typical 32GB USB 3.0 thumb drives are at present. One side of the SSD contains a user-programmable e-ink display, which persists even with power removed. The other side shows the beginnings of a thick stack of PCB's and stacked flash memory:

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Pictured above is one of flash memory packages alongside the controller. Here's a side view:

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Within this package is a sandwich of 4 thin PCB's housing a total of 4 special flash memory packages. Each package can contain an interleaved stack of 16 (!) 2xnm dies. By interleaved I mean 8 dies make up a data channel to the controller, so each package provides 2 channels. This makes the assembled device physically equivalent to an 8-channel SSD - just neatly folded and shrunk into this relatively tiny device. Since all of you know I love ripping these things apart to see what makes them tick, well, Victorinox beat me to it and had one disassembled already:

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The last really cool and unique part of the design is right here:

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This is a picture of the underside of the *top* of the USB connector. This part is normally the standard steel top of a USB connector, but here Victorinox has engineered a 7-pin eSATA connector into it. Modern laptops typically have an eSATA connector that is also physically and electrically compatible with USB - using the USB portion of the connector to provide extra power when a powered eSATA device is connected. eSATA devices have a connector that can plug into this hybrid port, but not into a standard USB port. This device switches that concept around, in that it is physically compatible with both USB 3.0 and eSATA ports - and can function in eSATA mode when connected to the latter. This yields reduced latency when compared to USB, which introduces more overhead.

 

Victorinox expects to ship these in sizes from 64GB all the way up to the 1TB capacity later this year. Estimated cost of the largest capacity? $3,000.

PC Perspective's CES 2012 coverage is sponsored by MSI Computer.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

Velocity Micro Announces Products To Be Shown At CES

Subject: General Tech, Storage, Mobile | January 5, 2012 - 08:18 PM |
Tagged: CES, velocity micro, usb, storage, projector, peripheral, CES 2012

Velocity Micro, a boutique PC builder just couldn't wait until CES 2012 to show off some of their new products it seems, as a recent web page with some punchy font seeks to get consumers excited about their new tablets, projector, and USB optical/external hard drive combination.

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First off, Velocity Micro plans to debut two Android tablets dubbed the Cruz Tablet T507 and T510. Both tablets run the Android 4.0 mobile operating system, and are powered by Cortex A8 processors running at 1.2 GHz. Further, the tablets feature ARM Mali GPUs at 400 MHz, 8 GB of internal storage, 512 MB of RAM, HDMI out, a front facing camera, flash support, and access to the Amazon Appstore. The differences between the T507 and T510 tablets lie in the screen size and lack of rear camera on the T510. The T507 tablet has a 7" capacitive touch screen and has an MSRP of $150 (according to Engadget) while the T510 has a 9.7" capacitive touch screen.

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Next up is an external USB hard drive that also features an optical drive and USB hub. Dubbed the VMUltra Drive, the all in one external drive has a DVD-R/RW optical drive, 500 GB 2.5" SATA Hard Drive, SD Card Reader, and 3 USB 2.0 Ports. Pretty nifty, and if the price is right I may be interested in this myself for my work laptop that lacks optical drive and is running low on storage space (heh).

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Lastly, Velocity Micro is going to debut the Shine Projector. Supporting an "HD" resolution of 1280x768 pixels, the Shine weighs in at 9 ounces. It features a 300 Lumens (160 ANSI Lumens) brightness, 2,000:1 contrast ratio, a one year warranty, and a mini-HDMI input. Also, it's a glossy Ferrari red, sporty.

Stay tuned to PC Perspective for more CES Pre-CES coverage!

PC Perspective's CES 2012 coverage is sponsored by MSI Computer.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

A quick and easy way to duplicate your drives

Subject: Storage | October 7, 2011 - 02:32 PM |
Tagged: Startech, eSATA, usb, SATA HD Duplicator

Startech's eSATA USB to SATA drive duplicator is a portable device that lets you clone SATA, eSATA and USB disks.  It is quite handy in that you do not need a running PC to be able to clone a disk which can be handy when you are copying an OS installation and need access to all files on the drive.  It is also great in data emergencies or even better, to prevent an emergency from ever happening because you back up your drives frequently.  Plug and Play is very appropriate for this device, you could put in two drives to the duplicator and leave it copying over night as you do not need to monitor its operation at all.  Drop by R&B Mods for their full review of the duplicator

 

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"Today we will take take a look at an interesting product from Startech. Startech Portable eSATA USB to SATA Standalone HD Duplicator Dock is a hard disk duplication device that you can do easy hard disk cloning with. Let’s see how it performs in our tests and how easy it is to use."

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