funkyfresh computers and accessories

StarTech SATA Dock eSATA and USB 3.0 Review






























Startech puts a new twist on the standard SATA dock by adding a fan to keep things cool. The SATDOCKU3SEF SATA dock includes eSATA and USB 3.0 ports and can accommodate both 2.5 and 3.5 drives.

The 80mm fan worked well to keep our drives cool including high performance 10,000 RPM models. It’s quiet and after having a drive plugged in for a while you forget it’s in an external dock.

Swapping out drives requires powering down the unit. If a similar make and model is inserted the system may recognize it instantly. If it’s a different model than it may require futzing a bit to get it to recognize the drive.

All in all, not that much different than previous docks that all seem to be OEM’d from the same factory in China anyway. The addition of USB 3.0 and eSATA is nice.

Vist StarTech for more information.

Synology DS1511+ NAS Review

The Synology DS1511+ NAS is perfect for the small business or advanced home user. It’s packed with features that can all be accessed using an attractive web based GUI. It’s perhaps overkill for the average home user but if you want to really explore and configure all the capabilities of this NAS it can become a full time hobby and very useful once configured to your liking.

Synology has a list of hard drives that it recommends for use with its NAS lineup. All the big players have drives that will work with the DS1511+ and you can mix and match sizes if you choose. It all depends on how mission critical the data on the NAS will be. Since we were reviewing the Hitachi Ultrastar 7K3000 drives when we received the DS1511+ the timing was perfect. These are ideal enterprise level 3TB drives and a good test for a state of the art NAS installation.

The drives easily screw to removable rails that slide and lock into place. Synology includes two sets of screws for different hard drives. Once attached to the rails just a little force is required to make full contact with the power and SATA connectors and to lock the drives in place.

The DS1511+ is solidly built with two fans for cooling. It’s very quiet in sleep mode and depending on the hard drives installed fairly quiet during operation. The Hitachi Ultrastars make quite a bit of chatter when reading and writing so a strategic location where noise is not an issue may be important depending on your setup. Good airflow is a requirement as well to keep the drives running cool.

Preparing all five drives to run the Synology Hybrid RAID takes the better part of a day with full disc scan to ensure no bad sectors are encountered later. That may sound like a long time but that’s actually pretty good for preparing five 3TB drives.

We used a single volume with multiple shared folders and 3 computers synched to the DS1511+. The initial synchronization can take some time depending on the amount of data. Once synched the NAS will monitor any changes in the “watch” folders and stay current with any new files or new revisions of existing files. It’s very seamless.

We really enjoyed using the DS1511+ as a media server for music, pictures and video. Having fast hard drives helps when multiple clients are accessing the NAS at the same time. For example, a couple of PCs can be backing up data and the NAS media server is able to easily stream audio and video to a TV. Our Blu-ray player instantly recognized the NAS and quickly streamed files from all the shared folders

Synology also has smart phone apps to remotely access files on the DS1511+ if you choose to expose the NAS externally to the net. This was much more compelling before Google unveiled its ‘Music’ service. We suspect even more cloud apps of this type to proliferate for access to myriad media files. Still, having the ability to access the NAS remotely and have complete control over the experience can be very useful.

So, the DS1511+ offers way more capabilities than the average user will ever tackle and plenty more that any user will appreciate such as the "download station" and direct USB connectivity. However, if you’re looking for a full featured NAS will all the bells and whistles and are willing to put on your IT hat for a weekend your reward will be a very powerful data management and backup solution.

Visit Synology for more information.

iRig Mic Review













































If only we had this as kids. The iRig Mic from IK Multimedia is a drop dead easy way to punch up an app and start recording with your iPod, iPhone or iPad. It has three preamp levels for low, medium and loud sounds and can be used to capture vocals or instrument sounds.

The sound quality is what you would expect from a $60 microphone and preamp combo, decent. It’s not a Neumann but the versatility, ease of use and small portable ‘studio’ footprint it enables is what makes it fun.

We plugged the iRig Mic into an iPad 2 and fired up Garage Band and the free app demos VocalLive, Amplitube and iRig Recorder. The free demos are kinda lame because they only have 1 track enabled. It’d be more interesting to showcase fully functioning apps and have them timeout but we get it, pay to play.

The iRig Mic allows real time monitoring of the audio signal as it’s recorded. So singers can crank up the reverb as they lay down those awesome vocal tracks. Of course, if you’re in the room next door listening to the dry signal through the wall you may not be so happy.

Our first 4-track was a Fostex 160, a great machine that still works today but didn’t include any effects, required a fresh high bias tape for each mix and certainly didn’t provide random access to anything. Now a $20 app does it all on a portable device.

There are some downsides to using music apps without real knobs, mainly the lack of real knobs. I mean would you sit around the house running your fingers up and down a regular sheet of glass? After a while we get what we call friction fatigue.

However, as a way to quickly capture song ideas, interview guests for a podcast or simply get kids involved in music making, the iRig Mic comes in super handy.

Visit IK Multimedia for more information.

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