BenQ in Europe dropped some details last week about their upcoming Blu-ray Disc optical writer. The new BW1000 is expected to price at around € 799,00 including VAT (around $1,023 American) and will ship in August.
The BenQ BW1000 will incorporate three types of lasers to support writing to Blu-ray Disc as well as a variety of DVD and CD formats. Three additional technologies highlighted by BenQ are designed to offer extra protection against vibrations and irregularities in the physical media as well as “determining and optimizing the writing settings for recordable media to ensure maximum playability and lifespan”.
Vonage has an interesting looking gadget out today in the form of a USB keychain drive. The new Vonage V-Phone is priced at $39.99 and looks to be available now.
The Vonage V-Phone comes with what Vonage feels is everything one needs to make and receive calls over a high speed Internet connection. Its primary features include coming pre-loaded with Vonage Talk software, having a detachable stereo earpiece microphone, offering 250MB of usable portable memory storage and offering a new Vonage phone number.
The Vonage V-Phone is plugged into any existing USB port on a PC. After also plugging in the earpiece microphone into the side of V-Phone, one is pretty much ready to use the service. When the drive is removed, all of the information is still on it and not the former host computer.
Before there was Benq, before there was Lite-On, there was Texel. Ummm, who? Texel America was the name Plextor went by before they changed in back in the mid 90’s. They’ve been manufacturing and selling optical drives since 1990, and I even remember owning one of their first 1x CD-ROM drives. Yes, I realize that dates me somewhat. Anyway, Plextor is introducing their first Blu-ray drive, the PX-B900A. The PX-B900A is an internal ATAPI drive that features dual-layer burning and supports writing and re-writing at 2x speeds. A large 8MB buffer ensures a constant flow of data, and support for a wide range of formats offers up great versatility.
The PX-B900A not only uses the latest Blu-ray technology, but is also a highly versatile dual-layer DVD drive that combines multiple formats – DVD+/-R/RW and RAM - into one. It can accept both 12cm and 8cm discs (in the horizontal position) and has a large 8MB buffer to ensure there is no data interruption. Write speeds: 2x BD-R/BD-RE, 8x DVD+R/-R/+RW, 6x DVD-RW, 4x DVD+R/-R DL, 5x DVD-RAM, 24x CD-R and 16x CD-RW.
One thing that has changed over the years is the manufacturer of Plextor’s drives. Once upon a time, Plextor ruled the roost so to speak and their drives were arguably second to none, and priced to match. As time has progressed, Plextor seems slower off the line in regards to innovation, and they’ve developed a habit of simply rebadging another manufacturer’s drive as their own. Rebadging is a common practice in the industry, but it does detract from the main reason to own a Plextor drive - because it was a Plextor and you knew you were getting a cutting edge piece of hardware with few peers. For what it’s worth, rumor has it that the PX-B900A is a rebadged Panasonic.
The PX-B900A will be availble in the September/October 2006 time frame, for an as of yet undisclosed amount.
Toshiba has unleashed the first home HD-DVD burner upon the Japanese market, dubbed the VARDIA RD-A1. It’s rather portly at 33lbs and 18x16x6.25in in size, but there’s a lot of goodness shoveled into that silver enclosure. There’s the aforementioned HD-DVD burning capability (both single and dual layer), a digital TV tuner, input/output ports out the wazoo, and 1TB of storage space which will hold a maximum of 92 hours of HD programming at the highest quality setting (24Mbps).
I mentioned the massive number of connections this thing has . . . see for yourself.
Matching it’s size and connectivity is an equally large price of $3,500 USD.
Pretec’s latest USB flash drive is their appropriately named i-Disk BulletProof, which is waterproof, fireproof, and you guessed it, bulletproof. While we’re not entirely sure that we want to have a need for such a rugged flash drive, it’s nice to know that our options are open.
[With] capacities ranging from 32MB to 2GB, [the] PRETEC i-Disk BulletProof is constructed with double layers of sealed protective metal, capable of preventing circuit damage from water, fire, and even shielding the heavy impact of a bullet, making i-Disk BulletProof the most rugged USB flash drive in the world. In addition to its ruggedness and small size, i-Disk BulletProof also features blazing access speed, up to 20MB/s. Pretec can also custom design a premium version of i-Disk BulletProof under special arrangement that can achieve a speed of 266X, up to 40MB/s, the highest speed of USB flash drive in the world.
No, we’re sure not sure what the little things on the side of the drive are either. They look vaguely like little ant skeletons, but the last time we checked, ants had their skeletons on the outside.
Optical disc formats such as CD’s and DVD are great for storing and archiving data, but over time the number of discs to keep track of can start to be a little unwieldy. A few years ago, Imation came out with a storage solution called the Stakka that strived to simplify the clutter. The Stakka could hold 100 discs, and as its name implies, offered the ability to have additional units stacked on top of it for increased storage space. The nice thing about the Stakka was the USB interface that allowed you to perform cataloging duties from your computer. The bad thing was also the USB interface as it allowed for disc retrieval only by using your computer. A minor quibble to be sure, but the thing was also butt ugly.
The divita BDM-100S from BLUEDOT is set to change
some of that. It has striking good looks with a sleek, silver exterior, and features a blue backlit LCD and keypad interface. Blue LEDs line the sides of the unit and follow the motion of the internal disc tray as it travels up and down for storage/retrieval. Sharp looking to be sure, but good looks are worthless if functionality isn’t there, and that’s where the divita runs into a minor problem - cataloging your discs.
It seems apparent that BLUEDOT has this product aimed more at the home entertainment segment than the computer market, as there is no way to hook the unit up to a computer. Which means, all disc titles must be entered, mobile phone style, via the alphanumeric keypad. Even the ability to hook up a USB keyboard would have been a welcome relief from the drudgery of all that button pushing. On the upside, with no external connections, it makes for a nice free-standing unit for holding your movie/music/data discs.
The price is a bit of a disappointment as the divita BDM-100S sells for approximately $375 USD. For that kind of money, you can get yourself a low end CD/DVD changer that will not only store the discs, but play them as well.
USB memory sticks are practically a dime a dozen anymore, and when you combine cheap with useful, you give rise to all kinds of fun hacks and mods. Plus, many off-the-shelf designs are extremely utilitarian and boring, which is why some of the DIY creations can be so refreshing. An interesting one involves carving up those little LEGO blocks you loved so much as a kid (or may still love as an adult) and cramming some flash memory into them. Sure, it’s been done before, but the author was kind enough to document the process for those of you who may be, ummm, mechanically challenged. The author’s creation even has the side bonus of having its activity LED glow right through the LEGO brick.
Hmmm, surely my son won’t miss a few LEGO pieces . . . will he?
A couple of months ago we talked about Samsung taking their NAND flash memory modules and incorporating them into Solid State Disk (SSD) drives that operate faster than conventional hard drives and use less power in the process. Now they’re taking those same 32GB SSD drives and stuffing them into their new Q1 and Q30 portable devices.
The Q1 has a form factor and feature set similar to an Origami device with a 7” 800x480 display and an Intel Celeron M running at 900MHz. The Q30 is a laptop, sporting a 12.1” LCD with a 1280x768 resolution, and an Intel Celeron M at 1.2GHz. Both models feature 512MB of memory and a 32GB SSD drive. The Q30 is said to load Windows XP fifty percent faster and access data three times faster than a hard drive equipped model. Samsung has neglected to mention what the power saving features of the drive translate into for real world use.
All good things come at a price, and the Q1 and Q30 are no exception to the case. They’re scheduled for release in Korea next month with the Q1 priced at $2,430 USD and the Q30 at $3,700 USD.
Portable hard drives are terribly common, but drives with LCD displays are still fairly unique. SmartDisk introduces their palm-sized FireLite XPress drive which features a cholesteric LCD display that requires no power to sustain its readout and is always on. Cholesteric LCDs are similar in nature to electronic ink, but have the drawback of slow refresh rates. For something like the FireLite XPress, the slow refresh rate is a non-issue.
From the SmartDisk news release: “The award-winning, always-on display is readable without power, identifies the drive by a user-designated name, indicates the last date that information was recorded and provides a table of contents for the drive. The display provides excellent readability even in direct sunlight, allows for wide-angle viewing and exhibits high brightness and contrast.”
The FireLite XPress will be available this June in 60GB and 120GB capacities with list pricing being $199.99 and $299.99 USD respectively.
PQI has recently announced the world’s slimmest flash drive in the U510. At 3mm thick, this new drive is literally the size and thickness of a credit card. While some people might think that the reduction in physical size correlates to a reduction in storage size, this is not correct - the U510 comes with a whopping 16GB of storage space. Also built into the card is a retractable USB connector. This device is both USB 2.0 and USB 1.1 compatible and works with either Windows or Mac computers. The U510 is available in three color schemes - Iron Gray, Metallic Silver, and a World Cup print. It seems that everyone is attempting to get in on the World Cup with some device that features a World Cup color scheme. No pricing or release date has been set, but we look forward to seeing this little device.