Storage device maker Buffalo showed off three major categories of products at Digital Experience. First was its new range of USB 3.0 devices. The Stealth, a portable drive, comes in sizes up to 1 TB starting at $99. The Axis is the new single-bay device, while the Drivestation Duo and Drivestation Quad contain two and four drives, respectively. The multi-drive devices have hardware RAID built-in for increased speed or redundancy. With these new options, it’s possible to have 12 TB of USB 3.0-connected storage for under $1000.
Second, Buffalo announced updates to the Terastation Pro family, flagshipped by an eight-bay model. This beast is a continuation of the high-end SMB NAS series with up to 24 TB for $6500. ThinkComputers reviewed the Terastation II Pro 1 TB a few years ago and found it to be an excellent product.
Most importantly, though, is Buffalo’s new Cloudstor device. Brian at Buffalo put it like this: “It’s like a NAS, but we took out all the NAS software. It’s like a personal cloud.” What Brian says is quite accurate — the traditional NAS software found in products such as Buffalo’s own Terastation line has been replaced with that of PogoPlug (ThinkComputers friends at Phoronix reviewed the original PogoPlug last year). The Buffalo Cloudstor builds on the idea by shipping two models — a 1 TB and 2 TB — but both have two bays, only one of which is populated. This enables the user to expand storage later when the need arises without having to purchase a whole new unit. This keeps customers, and keeps them happier, longer.
Buffalo also built a BitTorrent client around µTorrent for the Cloudstor and added compatibility with Apple’s Time Machine automatic backup system for Mac OS X.
One of the best things about Cloudstor is the ability to associate multiple devices to a single Cloudstor account. When setting up the Cloudstor for the first time, the user creates an account. The Cloudstor connects automatically through a VPN to Buffalo or PogoPlug’s servers. The user can then access the device the same way everywhere, regardless of if the actual device is on the same local network or if they’re in a café in a remote-yet-connected village in an third world country. Now, the speed of the connection is of course limited to connection between the user and the drive (e.g., user’s computer to café, café to Internet, Internet to user’s home router, user’s router to Cloudstor device).
One of the concerns I had while talking to the Buffalo folks (thanks, Jay and Brian!) was this: being that it’s a newer company, what happens if PogoPlug suddenly disappears? The Cloudstor relies on PogoPlug’s infrastructure to function. Apparently, there are deals in place such that if PogoPlug were to close down, its code would be open sourced or at least made available to its OEM partners such as Buffalo and Seagate for their perusal and service-reestablishment.
The 1 TB Cloudstor will be $179 MSRP with the 2 TB at $269. They’ll ship late Q1 or early Q2 and will be announced officially today.
Micron is very large semiconductor company. Crucial is the consumer division for internal products (e.g., SSDs, RAM), whereas Lexar is the consumer division for primarily external products (e.g., USB and SD Flash memory). Both are backed by consumer support resources such as a 1-800 number. Micron is the OEM brand.
Micron showed off its C300 SSD. It’s built using a new 25 nm NAND process at capacities up to 512 GB. There’s a worry in the industry that as the process size shrinks, the performance degrades. Micron managed to improve performance while maintaining the endurance of its units. These devices can see 400 MB/s on a SATA6 bus.
To best illustrate the difference an SSD makes, Micron set up a demo with two, identical Lenovo laptops, except one had a Micron C300 SSD in it. The laptop on the right completes a rigorous test booting Windows 7 and then opening 24 images in Photoshop while playing back a high-def video in less than 90 seconds. The HDD-equipped laptop on the left hasn’t even completed a single run of the test. In fact, it was still opening Photoshop images when I walked away a few minutes later!
NEC showed off its new prototype dual-screen Android device, the Android Cloud Communicator LT-W. It bears two 7″ wide-angle wide screens, an ARM A8 processor, 384 MB RAM, and a 1 GB ROM. It can connect via WiFi, 3G, or Bluetooth. It has a full-size SDHC slot and a 3 MP camera.
When will this be available? Not yet. NEC is still looking for channel partners and OEMs with which to partner.
IOGear showed off three new things: a USB HDMI adapter capable of outputting 1080p video ($99 street soon), a line of HTPC keyboards (four, for every flavor and size), and a multi-room wireless 3D HD broadcasting system.
From right to left, the first of the keyboards is the GKM681R, a 2.4 GHz wireless mini keyboard with a trackball. It retails for $49. Next, the 2.4GHz wireless, palm-sized GKM571R for $99. Next, the 2.4GHz wireless GKM581R for $89, similar in technology to the previous keyboard but in a different form factor. Last, the GKM611B, a Bluetooth keyboard with a trackpad for $79.
The multi-room 3D HD broadcasting system is capable of wirelessly sending 3D HD signal to four receivers up to 100 ft away.
If you’ve not heard of Herman Miller, perhaps you’ve sat in one of its products. Herman Miller is a designer and manufacturer of very high-end chairs. Its most well-known model is the Aeron, which during the dot-com boom was a status symbol (and arguably still is one!). Herman Miller chairs are designed with such care, such research, and such mindfulness that they really are a tool, and not just something on which one places their posterior for hours a day.
Herman Miller showed off its newest model, the Sayl, designed by Yves Béhar. Yves also designed the OLPC and the Jawbone Bluetooth headset. It’s a $399 chair the back of which is inspired by the structure of suspension bridges such as the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.
Another model Herman Miller was showing was the Embody. The bottom of the chair is designed to alleviate pressure on the underside of the legs behind the knees. A study showed that when compared to other chairs, the sitter’s heart rate was lower by 5-8 beats per minute. This result is attributable to less constriction on arteries, veins, and vessels in the legs. “It’s an HD chair in an SD world,” Pete at Herman Miller said to me.
Colin Dean has been a writer for ThinkComputers since 2006.
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