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Archive for October, 2010

Dirty Little Secret of 32GB Flash Drives

Verbatim announced their 32GB flash drive today in the form of a USB dongle no larger than a nickel.  There is no lanyard loop and it’s damn small, so will most likely get lost if you place it in your pocket – but that is all okay.  It seems Verbatim is gunning for this product to be a permanent extension of memory for your Netbook or laptop anyway.

Verbatim USB, 32GB

However, in the event you plan to swap the 32GB stick from PC to PC there is one dirty little secret you should be aware of…it needs a DC powered USB port. In most situations and applications this isn’t a problem as the device will be connected directly to a motherboard USB port, but you’ll need to pay specific attention to dock stations or non-powered USB hubs.  To understand a little better, the device controller needs Continue Reading

MacBook Air Ships With Reinstall USB Drive

With Apple’s recent news about the MacBook Air being ultra thing, ultra long lasting and ultra cool, what many overlooked was the reinstall software shipping on a USB drive. With companies trying to save energy, reduce cost and reduce product sizes, it’s no surprise [at least to me] that Apple dumped the optical drive in favor of solid state memory…for both the computer and the restore media.

“Even the flash drive looks awesome from Apple,” says my colleague who does a ton of iPhone and iPad applications…with a new one coming out.

Beside the fact of flash being faster than optical, we also save space on the internal SSD drive by not having the reinstallation software loaded, but rather off-line and secure.  Just be sure to wrap a key-chain around it, the Apple restore USB drive looks pretty small.

Apple restore USB

End. Continue Reading

Ford Making An App Store for Cars?

Wouldn’t that be nice – an app store for cars?  Ford isn’t there yet, but they could be.  I read earlier this week that Ford is pushing out a new SDK for software developers to create applications for For Motor cars.

USB Ford Sync

A simple example of an app would be syncing your smartphone with the car [via USB] and run Pandora music or Stitcher internet radio.The new SDK from Ford includes access to the voice recognition utilities to help developers integrate voice command applications.  An example here would be syncing the voice command functions of your phone through the speaker system of your car stereo.  Developers could also design apps where you ask the car Continue Reading

64GB Will Become Common Place for USB 2.0

Samsung logo We have already seen USB sticks getting to the 64GB capacity, but it doesn’t go without some serious trouble or expense in making them.  Currently all 64GB sticks are made up of four 16GB NAND chips.  The drives are huge and far more expensive than a 1TB USB hard drive.  But this will all change… Samsung announced that it has begun mass production the industry’s first 3-bit-per-cell, 64 Gb (8 GB) MLC NAND flash chip using 20-nm-class processing.  In addition to the larger capacity, Samsung’s new NAND flash  will use Toggle DDR (Double Data Rate) 1.0 specifications, offering a 60-percent higher productivity level than the previous 30-nm-class, 32 Gb 3-bit NAND using SDR (Single Data Rate). Samsung’s chips are expected to arrive in USB flash drives, Secur Digital cards, smartphones and SSDs while replacing the current 4 GB (32 Gb) devices on the market. Samsung did not comment on time-frame; however the new devices may begin to appear in the market and offer 8 GB minimum and 64 GB maximum. Continue Reading

Off Topic – Huge Sky Balloon To Lift 150 Ton Gear

So cruising the news today for USB updates, I stumbled upon this article about an Australian company dreaming up a giant sky balloon to carry stuff. When you need to get heavy gear into remote places a road can’t always get you there.  Sometimes the gear is so large, air lifting it in wont get you there either.  So what to do?  How about a ginormous sky balloon?

Sky balloon

To give you an idea of the type of problem this Australian company [Skylifter] is trying to solve; a helicopter is the only aircraft which can float in a product of great size or weight to a remote location – but it’s got limitations.  A helicopter can only carry about 50 tons of gear.  What if the stuff weighs more than 50 tons? The balloon is 150-meters wide and could carry up to 150 tons.  The balloon would have a flight range of 1240 miles and would act like a parachute on decent to make a gentle touchdown. A mini RC version of the balloon is now being tested and is 9 feet across. It can carry about 1 pound with a full-size prototype set to start building in the coming three years. Continue Reading

iPhone 4 Battery Bumper

It’s a bit amazing we haven’t seen more iterations of the iPhone bumpers with power packs built in.  I guess the primary reason would be the bulkiness added, but once company doesn’t care and that’s Energizer. Energizer introduced their AP1201 battery pack earlier this month for the iPhone 4.  It’s a iPhone 4 specific bumper which includes a built in batter pack.  The battery inside the silicon bumper is made of their patented lithium polymer battery technology.  The power pack adds another 200 extra hours of standby time, 27 extra hours of music time, 7 extra hours of video time, or 5 extra hours of talk time on 3G networks.

iPhone Energizer bumper

It’s hard to tell from the picture how much bigger it makes your device, but the video after the jump gives you a real world comparison.  Continue Reading

Don’t Limit Your iPad From USB

You might have heard the next gen iPad will include a miniUSB port, but for those looking for an easier interface today, or want a standard USB interface for even the upcoming iPad, you should get the USB connector kit from USB Fever.

USB kit iPad

The kit has a SD and USB connector which talks with the iPad through the female Apple connector you use for synchronizing or connecting to your computer.The kit gives you an easier way to upload images, video and PDF documents.  It also gives you an easier way to connect your iPhone or other digital camera or video recorder to your iPad.  Hell, you could almost toss out the PC…oh way, you’ve still got to sync and update. The USB port could also be used to connect your keyboard to the iPad for typing emails, etc.  Sure you all love the keypad on the iPad, but it’s still not as easy to use as a traditional keyboard. USBFever webpage [$35]. Continue Reading

How To: Run LED Solo From PCless USB Connector

Do you see something odd about this picture?  Maybe the fact an LED is illuminating from a USB connector with no PC in site?  Ya that’s it.  Good job Sherlock.

USB LED

So what we have here is a How To or USB Hack on running an LED from a Super-capacitor.  If you are non-technical, then we basically mean a very short lived battery to run the LED.  A super-capacitor has the ability to store energy for longer periods of time over traditional capacitors – yet still not long enough as with batteries.The concept of this tutorial is to wire a super-capacitor to a USB socket whereby your computer can charge up the capacitor and when disconnected you’ll get about 10 minutes of LED illumination.

USB LED

Granted there isn’t much day-to-day use with this USB hack, but just a fun little project if you have the time. Over on the Instructables website there is an updated USB tutorial which includes Continue Reading

Solar Powered Guitar Tuner by Tascam

Tascam Solar Powered Tuner

Whether you are a serious musician or just like playing as a hobby to relax, chances are you have a guitar and a tuner.  As with most musicians your budget is probably tight or with the casual player you don’t keep up on the up-keep of your gear, so when your guitar is out of tune, you go for the tuner.  But most likely the battery is dead because A) you didn’t want to spend the cash or B) hadn’t played in so long, the batteries just went dead.  This is why the solar powered guitar tuner makes perfect sense. Tascam has done a great job with this tuner and thought about including a USB port just in case that tuner was stuffed in your guitar case for too long and you need a quick fix to get back in tune. Released just in time for the holidays and priced right [under $20] with a range of hues to select from: black, pink, orange, green, blue, white. Continue Reading

Hitachi Launches Hybrid Drive – Optical Drive and Solid State

With netbooks gaining popularity, the fact that no optical drive is included with the product has become a bit of an issue.  With out an optical drive, software manufacturers are forced to provide download links for the installation packages.  With very large installation packages, a download option may not be available, so vendors need to switch to a solid state device like a USB thumb drive or SD card.

Hitachi Hybrid Drive

Today Hitachi is trying to tackle this problem and provide a solution where everyone wins.  Their ODD Hybrid Drive is the solution. The ODD [Optical Disc Drive] is a combination of a solid state hard drive and optical disc drive.  Together, the hybrid drive allows the smaller netbooks and soon tablet PCs the ability to have optical accessibility.Having optical is also critical for Windows restore procedures in the event the operating system needs to be restored or repaired. The added feature of this type of hybrid drive is the speed.  Check this out, Windows 7 boots in about 29 seconds.  Starcraft 2 Battlenet loads in about 38 seconds.  Of course these numbers will very depending on your hardware setup, but it gives you an idea of performance. The report from Aving didn’t mention price, but did say the hybrid drive will become available mid Oct 2010. Source:  Aving.net. Continue Reading

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