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This review is from: SanDisk Extreme PRO 128GB USB 3.0 Flash Drive Model SDCZ88-128G-G46
Pros: *The SanDisk Extreme Pro is snappy, attractive, above the competition, and has plenty of storage for a highly mobile storage solution.*
- The SanDisk Extreme Pro USB 3.0 Flash Drive is a pleasure to look at, with a freckled silver and a gloss black. It is compact taking-in-account the 128GB storage-capacity, which is quite a feat (remember the “amazing” 128MB flash drives?). The USB port retracts inward with the flick of the thumb, which is much better than messing around with a plastic cap that will be lost within the first week. It has a lanyard opening. There is a small, blue LED indicator light that blinks while the drive is active. It isn’t annoying and is subtle, which is how I prefer indicator lights. The aluminum chassis remains light, though should increase durability greatly. If not, and it succumbs to your abusive manners, there’s always that lifetime warranty.
- The SanDisk Extreme Pro performed exceptionally. This drive takes USB 3.0 to task, honestly taking a good crack at using up the capabilities of it. Moving a 1080p movie from an SSD to the drive took less than two minutes. Unlike many other USB 3.0 flash drives I’ve tested, the SanDisk Extreme Pro scales magnificently from 2.0 to 3.0. Not only does it scale the interfaces well, it outperformed about every other USB 3.0 device I’ve used (and there are many of those). In the Other Thoughts section there is a list of benchmarks that I had run on the SanDisk flash drive.
- Included on the drive is SanDisk’s SecureAccess program. It’s a rather intuitive and easy-to-use program that protects and encrypts certain files you put on the drive. The program can set up a password for the drive which would be required to access your specified sensitive files placed within the “Vault”. Considering SecureAccess is a free program that comes loaded on the drive, ready to go, it’s a nice feature, making the SanDisk Extreme Pro ever more appealing.
Cons: - After running numerous benchmarks and tests, I noticed the SanDisk to be pretty warm. I checked in CrystalDiskInfo and it was up to 50 degrees. That’s not spontaneously-combusting territory or anything, but still a little hot for a flash drive. This is likely due to the aluminum construction(?)
- On USB 2.0, this drive didn’t perform to the max capabilities. To point out the obvious, it isn’t made for USB 2.0, and excels with USB 3.0, but I had to criticize the product’s performance in some way, while not being unfair.
- SanDisk claims up to 240MB/s write speed and 260MB/s read speeds; I wasn’t able to achieve those speeds in any tests. I probably don’t have the “perfect” test system to achieve those speeds, as most people wouldn’t. However, I did get close. Nonetheless, maybe SanDisk should be slightly more conservative.
- In one scenario, having the drive plugged into a laptop, next to an HDMI cord, they were in each other’s way, ending up to be a really close fit. I can see that with some laptop’s IO layout, the width of this drive may interfere with the port beside it.
- This flash drive comes in at a high price ($149.99, > $1/GB). The performance of the drive, however, will—for many people—justify the price.
Other Thoughts: Below are the results for the various benchmarks I ran on the drive. Listed first is the program name then the interface used (USB 2.0/3.0). Wherever the letter “R” appears signifies Read speeds, subsequently the letter “W” is for Write. All results, unless otherwise specified, are by Megabytes per second (MB/s).
Flash Drive/Card Tester didn’t find any fatal, recoverable, or comparison errors.
_Windows 7 Real World Test_Moving Files_
Moving 2.09GB to SSD from SanDisk took 17 seconds, peaking at 177MB/s.
Moving 2.09GB to SanDisk from SSD took 20 seconds, peaking at 156MB/s.
Seq. = R: 31.35 MB/s W: 24.71 MB/s
512K = R: 30.58 MB/s W: 15.64 MB/s
4K = R: 5.45 MB/s W: 6.47 MB/s
4KQD32 = R: 4.67 MB/s W: 7.81 MB/s
Seq. = R: 201.27 MB/s W: 190.98 MB/s
512K = R: 140.01 MB/s W: 30.04 MB/s
4K = R: 13.65 MB/s W: 10.02 MB/s
4KQD32 = R: 10.50 MB/s W: 11.05 MB/s
_AS SSD Benchmark_USB 2.0_
Seq. = R: 29.09 MB/s W: 23.28 MB/s
4K = R: 4.53MB/s W: 5.41MB/s
4K-64Thrd= R: 4.74MB/s W: 4.14MB/s
_AS SSD Benchmark_USB 3.0_
Seq. = R: 200.17 MB/s W: 189.82 MB/s
4K = R: 13.56MB/s W: 9.91MB/s
4K-64Thrd= R: 9.34MB/s W: 9.10MB/s
*At this moment in time, the SanDisk Extreme Pro would be the first flash drive I would recommend to anyone who required a high-capacity, high-performing, highly-mobile flash drive.*
This review is from: Corsair Raptor HS30 Dual 3.5mm Connector Circumaural Gaming Headset
Pros: *The Corsair Raptor HS30 Headset is a well-built, up-to-the-task, comfortable gaming headset; however, gaming and voice-chat programs is about all I’d recommend it for.*
- The Corsair Raptor HS30 is aesthetically very attractive. It looks more expensive than it is, has a great color contrast, and is physically sophisticated. The build-quality seems rather durable and the entire frame is well constructed. The top band can be extended far enough to fit comfortably on Shrek or an ogre. The headset does adapt to you slightly, but isn’t fully pliant (See Cons). The mic has eleven different angle positions, providing a good amount of flexibility of where you want it to be when using it, and can be bent/twisted in a rubbery fashion.
- The Corsair Raptor HS30’s sound is good—and that’s the most suitable adjective I could muster. Without messing with an equalizer software, the headphones come out of the box without sounding tinny or muffled, and manage to produce a sound that is just—again—good. To that end, I think most gamers won’t take issue with the fidelity of the sound. That’s not to say there aren’t some sound impurities (See Cons). To audiophiles (which if you are, you won’t likely buy these anyhow), the HS30 won’t provide the rich, full sound you’re seeking; however, if you’re gamer who just wants a 3.5mm headset, owns a PC that has one Mic and one Headphone Jack, to talk to people on Vent and hear your game, the HS30 is more than capable of providing you with that experience. Comfortably, at that:
- After wearing the Corsair Raptor headset for three hours and then again for three more the next day, the headset didn’t induce any personal discomfort. My ears felt fine after several hours even though the headset kind of bear hugs your head and ears. Possibly longer than that, just like almost any headset, might cause discomfort. The ear cushions don’t have the memory-foam or high-quality pillow feel, but rather like a cheap-foam liner feel. The top band is cushioned well and feels good.
- The mic clarity is sufficient. Some background noise can be heard if loud enough. Overall, the mic does sound good and is convincing of the background noise-cancelling feature it sports.
- The 9-feet of cable is pretty impressive when unraveled. I can’t think of many desk/office scenarios where you would need more cable length. More than likely, there’ll be enough cable length for your gaming room. The control panel attached to the cord allows quick volume and mic mute control.
- They don’t have noise-cancelling tech, but do have a quasi-noise-isolation aspect to them. This is likely due just to the build-quality of the cuffs, and not an integration of specific technology, but when at medium volume, the environment around you turns muffled. At higher volumes—like most headsets—you can’t really hear much besides whatever it is you’re listening to.
Cons: - Although the HS30’s ear cuffs do rotate, tilt, and swivel, they are far from pliant; being in the whole, rather limited. The cuffs can tilt about 30°, which isn’t all that much; however, limited tilting functionality isn’t as big of a deal as the narrow degree of swivel. The cuffs can swivel about the same 30° that they can tilt, but I can see this being an issue for people with less than perfect ear placement.
- When comparing the HS30 with another headset that features 40mm Neodymium drivers, the other headset beat it out in pure sound fidelity. There seems to be a lack of treble balance in the headset’s sound. I believe this is why the sound isn’t full and rich, and the bass (although not felt, only heard) overpowers the fidelity’s balance. The bass itself is inauthentic, which takes away from the overall standard, but I can’t say listening to music or more sound-involved applications is displeasure; it isn’t. It just isn’t great due to the lack of many features that make great headphones. Within the HS30’s price range, the sound is definitely to be expected and possibly even above par. Again, if you’re looking just for a gaming headset, the slight imbalance of sound will not be a deal-breaker.
- Although the control panel on the cord is a neat feature, it’s bigger than it needs to be and positioned farther down the cord than it should be.
Other Thoughts: *The Corsair Raptor HS30 Headset will definitely be good enough for most gamers. If you are a casual gamer, needing a good mic to talk on Vent, Teamspeak, Skype or the like, and want decent comfortability, the HS30 will fit you like a glove. If you are seeking a rich gameplay experience through surround sound and full fidelity, this headset will not live up to the occasion. All in all, the HS30 is a well-built, comfortable, decent-to-good-sounding headset that fits into the mid-range headset market just fine.*READ FULL REVIEW
This review is from: Linksys AC1900 Dual Band SMART Wi-Fi Gigabit Router (EA6900)
Pros: *The Linksys EA6900 is a jack-of-all-trades router; excelling in no department, but being good-enough in most.*
- Aesthetically, the Linksys EA6900 is sleek and elegant. It’s attractive enough to have in sight, and even when attaching the antennae, the router remains good-looking. The antennae are short and just as low-profile as the router. Because they can be taken off, you can replace them with better antennae for omnidirectional or directional support; however, the included three antennae are minimal, adjustable and will be perfectly suitable for most users. The exorbitant amount of ventilation holes keeps the device cool even after days of running, and the exclusion of blinking, annoying LED indicator-lights is refreshing. Only the Linksys branding glows, which is essentially the sole indicator light.
- During the “Smart Wi-Fi” setup, the router automatically updates itself, saving the time of having to do a multi-step manual firmware update. It also optionally guides you to create an account which can be used in conjunction with the Linksys Smart Wi-Fi app to remotely access your router’s settings. On my tablet, the app was intuitive, fluent, and full of features to change. You can check the Guest network settings, see devices connected to the router, change almost any setting on the fly, set up specific administrator restrictions, and configure device bandwidth prioritization. It also allows you to check whatever is connected to the router’s USB ports.
- The Smart Wi-Fi setup itself was extremely straightforward. I have a rather complicated network configuration, and after the simple wizard setup, I only tweaked a few more settings before I was up and running.
- Being a dual-band router, the Linksys EA6900 broadcasts both 5GHz and 2.4GHz. On the 5GHz band it provides AC (the latest, fastest Wireless standard), and the speed is mind-blowing for Wi-Fi. If you don’t have a compatible AC device, this router still streams HD perfectly smooth, downloads quickly, and performs at the top of Wireless N protocol.
- The wireless range is pretty good. In areas where my previous router without antennae couldn’t reach, the Linksys broadcasts two bars and still holds the ability to stream a YouTube video. Not only does this speak to the antennae (which may be doing the bulk of the heavy-lifting), but also possibly toward the integrity of Linksys’s Beamforming technology.
- Linksys’s browser configuration page is user-friendly and simple. I found the Media Prioritization to be less clunky than QoS settings, giving the option to prioritize bandwidth to games, apps, or certain devices. However, in testing I didn’t notice much of a difference.
- It detected my DLNA server to a SmartTV just fine through a third-party program (I didn’t use the Twonky MediaServer) and picked up the media on my 4TB External USB Hard Drive (through the router’s USB 3.0 port) without issue.
Cons: - The biggest problem with this router is not its function, but feature—its lack of advanced customizability and advanced tweaking. The router settings page offers most of the important settings, including port-forwarding and static routing, but still provides less configurable settings when comparing to some other manufacturers or brands. The Smart Wi-Fi Browser’s Setting page is great for novices, but it leaves a lot to be desired for more advanced users.
- There is no Wireless AP feature that I could find. Granted, it is a router, but many high-end routers offer the Wireless AP option, and that is one benefit to purchasing more than one router. This goes back to my previous point of the router’s nominal flexibility options and tweaking.
- Although the included disc has a much more detailed and thorough PDF guide, the included paper Quick Start Guide is skimpy and wouldn’t do much for a beginner. However, the pretty much paperless inclusion might be justifiably due to protecting the environment.
- Throughout my testing, I had occasional speed throttles where both the range and speed dipped. I don’t know how prominent this will become, if at all. This event is pretty common with every router that I at least have used/tested, so I am not too concerned that it’ll become a problem. Although, I didn’t encounter any Wi-Fi drops, and Wi-Fi drops seem to be the bane of many routers out there.
- The router lacks a physical power button, which isn’t a huge deal, but it is an easy addition for the manufacturer and can occasionally come in handy. A bigger issue is the lack of a Wi-Fi on/off button. Again, it isn’t a deal-breaker, but a feature useful to have however sparingly it may be used.
- Although one USB 3.0 is great to have, I can’t help but feel the other USB port should also be 3.0. I imagine in most scenarios the 2.0 is for a printer or such and the 3.0 for an external hard-drive or NAS. But still, two USB 3.0s would be more sensible nowadays for a new product.
Other Thoughts: - The exclusion of indicator lights (Wi-Fi/Ethernet/Internet/USB Status) could be a con for some people and a pro for others. To me I like the subtly, but understand both sides. So it’s up to you, but in my opinion, routers are usually hidden anyhow. Though you wouldn’t know with a quick glance if there was something wrong with this router as you would with one sporting indicator lights.
- Of course the packaging doesn’t affect the router’s performance or the end review; nevertheless, I feel Linksys did a good job with packaging this router. In spite of the environmentally-friendly packaging material, you still feel like you purchased a premium product when opening the box.
- It’s light enough for me to mount the router to the back of a cabinet with two 5” Velcro strips.
*Overall, the router performs as it should and has most of the features expected in this price range. The inclusion of an app for your mobile device to tweak the router remotely is a cool, possibly handy feature; however, I still feel something is missing in the Linksys EA6900. It is lacking a unique feature to set it apart from the crowd. I guess what I’m saying is it’s… just a router; but a good one at that.*