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Hawking HWREN1 Hi-Gain Wireless-300N Range Extender Review
The Hawking HWREN1 Hi-Gain Wireless-300N Range Extender works well to eliminate wireless dead zones in a home. Let’s say you have a wireless access point located centrally in your home but the signal strength is weak to some corners of the building such as the garage.
Category: Computers and Stuff
Published: Monday, 15 March 2010 07:31
We tested the HWREN1 in an average size home and were impressed with the results. Systems that previously showed low quality connections before installing the HWREN1 reported good to excellent connectivity. FTP, audio/video streaming and sharing files on the network approached the performance and throughput of wired systems on the network. Can’t ask for much more than that.
Setup requires the included CD and is easy enough but there should have been more information about wireless channel selection and strategy when extending a wireless network. Having a quality wireless card in each PC accessing the network makes a big difference as well. We found dramatically different results with several cards so like anything else your wireless network is only as good as your weakest link.
The WHREN1 looks and feels very cheap but once it’s installed and out of sight you’ll quickly forget about that. It’s a good option for improving the wireless access in your home without a lot of cost.
Visit Hawking Technologies for more information.
Corsair P256 SSD Review
The Corsair P256 SSD is a SATA-II compatible 2.5 inch drive. Like other SSDs it offers faster performance and potentially better endurance. However, unlike high performance hard drives that include a 5 year warranty the P256 only includes a 2 year warranty which we found odd considering “toughness” is one of the selling points of SSDs in general.
Category: Computers and Stuff
Published: Thursday, 04 March 2010 07:25
Unwrapping the P256 is a bit like unwrapping air. SSDs are deceiving in that they don’t feel like much, just a little brick of silicon with some connectors. But in this case the featherweight is actually the heavyweight. The Corsair P256 SSD has all of the performance minus the bulk, noise, power consumption and heat of a traditional high performance drive. Of course, it’s a lot more expensive and offers only a fraction of the capacity but its responsive and stable performance will be attractive to many.
When we received the Corsair Performance Series P256 SSD we decided to test it a couple of ways. First as a dedicated drive for HD video editing and second as a system drive with OS and apps. What would have a bigger impact? What would we notice more? What would we simply enjoy more?
First we swamped out a Hitachi 7200 RPM 1TB drive we were using for video storage. We copied over 1 hour of HD footage and resumed editing a project to see if the response would be any different with the P256. We also repeated the process with a Western Digital VelociRaptor 10K RPM drive. These are real world tests where we use the product versus running arbitrary benchmarks. The P256 was noticeable improvement over the 7200 RPM hard drive but not so much with the 10K RPM VelociRaptor. However, the P256 did reduce the noise in the editing room with one less hard drive spinning.
Next we cloned the VelociRaptor system drive and replaced it with the P256. Our boot up and shut down times weren’t noticeably different. However, opening and closing applications was snappier. Lean apps like Saw Studio were truly instant on while chubbier apps such as Sony Vegas still take some time. Firefox and Fireworks were instant on. So it depends on the app but in general we noticed the improvement even compared to a very fast 2.5 inch version of Western Digital’s 10k RPM VelociRaptor. Some changes were dramatic in unexpected ways. For example, we often experienced a several second delay opening Winamp. With the P256 it was instant.
The Corsair P256 is an excellent way to add performance and stability to a system that’s a couple of years old or to use as the foundation for a new high performance system. The most noticeable improvement for us was when we installed it as the main system drive. It made the system feel more like hardware and less like software. Is it worth the premium over the 2.5 inch VelciRaptor? It absolutely is for a work system where uptime is critical. For a home system with an online backup system such as Mozy in place, it’s hard to justify.
In the last several years we’ve seen hard drives fail in our systems after only 1 year of use and usually at the worst possible moment. Yes, SSDs are very expensive but we’re getting very close to the price point where that extra performance and piece of mind will be worth the premium. It’s very early in this game but it’s easy to imagine a near silent PC with almost no moving parts besides a few fans whirring inside. 2010 is shaping up to be the year where the silent SSD starts making some serious noise.
Visit Corsair for more information.
Pioneer BDR-205 Blu-ray Burner Review
The BDR-205 from Pioneer is an internal Blu-ray Disc/DVD/CD burner with write speeds up to 12x on BD-R (25GB) and BD-RL (50GB) media. So to put that in perspective 1 dual layer disc is the equivalent of 10 separate DVDs.
Category: Computers and Stuff
Published: Sunday, 21 February 2010 18:15
Pioneer has been at the forefront of DVD and Blu-ray technology and the BDR-205 is a good example of this tradition to produce quality, leading edge products. The BDR-205 is made in Japan which is usually a sign of quality when it comes to electronics. (opportunity here to make joke about drive by wire systems in Toyota cars but we'll pass).
We installed the BDR-205 in an HP workstation that already had several hard drives and optical drives installed. Since we were out of SATA ports we used an open SAS port instead without any problems. Pioneer bundles a bloated software package called BD Solutions from Cyberlink that takes forever to install. It’s okay for watching Blu-ray movies but we found it slow, cumbersome and marginally useful for mostly everything else. We preferred our own authoring tools that we’ve grown accustomed to. Newbies may appreciate the Cyberlink package but boy is it a hog.
We recently completed a high def product for a client that wanted both DVDs and Blu-ray discs duplicated. We have a disc duplicator for CDs/DVDs but have had very little demand for Blu-rays. So in this case we manually loaded the discs in and out of the BDR-205. The small run of 25 discs went smoothly without any coasters. The drive is smooth, quiet and works as advertised.
Prices have really come down on Blu-ray burners with the BDR-205 currently hovering around $200. The price of blank media is still pricey compared to DVDs but much more reasonable than just a year ago and the quality and consistency of discs has gotten better as well. Premium, printable media however is still hovering close to $5 a disc.
If you’ve finally decided to take the Blu-ray plunge our current recommendation is the BD-R 205 and we expect Pioneer to remain at the head of the pack based on its pedigree in the optical drive business.
Visit Pioneer Electronics for more information.