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Toshiba Satellite l755 Battery www.all-laptopbattery.com

Product Roundup My, how time flies. It has been a couple of years since El Reg did a group test of external USB3.0 hard drives and comparing prices for 1TB drives between then and now shows how much the price of conventional hard drives has fallen in the meantime. Then, only one drive was under the £100 barrier, this time around, all the ones I’m looking at are well under a hundred quid.For the time being, a 1TB USB3.0 storage is still the realm of the good old mechanical hard drive and while there are some drives combining SSDs and USB3.0, it makes more sense from a performance point of view to combine the SSD option with a Thunderbolt interface – there are a few of these drives around but they are a very expensive options.Here we’ve tested a handful of the many standard 1TB 2.5in HDD portable drives that are available. While some can be found equipped with 7200RPM hard drives, they are more expensive, so this round-up focuses on 5400RPM models. As there are fewer HDD manufacturers these days, the drives inside these diminutive storehouses are from Seagate, Toshiba and Western Digital.

One thing to remember is that most of these drives were formatted as FAT32 drives out of the box, which is fine for small to medium sized files. Any larger that 4GB and they will need either re-formatting or converting (by using the Convert command) to NTFS. If there’s any backup software on there, be sure to make a copy first. The drives can of course be used for Mac OS X by reformatting to HFS and Linux bods can do likewise and reformat to ext3, if preferred.Just one look at Adata’s DashDrive HD710 will give you the reassurance that the drive will survive most of what you can throw at it during a normal working day. The whole drive is encased in a silicone material that is not only shockproof but also waterproof. The casing also includes a wrap-round slot for the USB cable, so there’s no real excuse for losing it.One thing to watch out for though is the drive end of the USB cable, as it’s not as tight a fit as some and care needs to be taken if you move the drive while it’s hooked up, as you might find it disconnects.

The drive doesn’t have any software preloaded but there is a link address on the box to Adata’s download page where you can download some useful utilities: OStoGO, install Windows 7 or 8 via a USB storage device, HDDtoGo, a package of useful tools including folder synchronization and encryption. There’s lots of protection for the drive inside it but just a shame you have to download the software.Featuring a Toshiba MQ01ABD100 HDD, this is a reasonably priced drive with a very good all-round performance in a casing that’s as tough as old boots.Freecom’s XXS range carries with it the lofty title of the “world’s smallest 2.5in drive”. Certainly the 1TB drive is a handily sized drive that you could put in a pocket and forget about. The reason for its compactness is the skin tight rubber case that surrounds it, which gives the drive a least some sort of protection that doesn’t add too much to its bulk.When it first appeared, Freecom supplied it with a very short USB cable but the one supplied with my review sample was a much longer one, so it appears that Freecom has ditched the shorter one. There’s a small bundle of utilities preinstalled on the drive for both PC and Mac including Nero BackitUp, Green Button, hard drive easer and FHDFormatter for PC users. On the Mac you get just FHDFormatter, Green Button and a hard drive eraser.

Equipped with a Seagate ST1000LM024 HN-M101ABB HDD, it is a decent performer abeit not the fastest when it comes to writing small files. It fits easily into the pocket and it’s not that hard on it either.CES 2015 January is here and CES is in full swing. That means a fresh crop of new devices, including a refresh to notebook lines for most companies.Two of the more interesting notebooks to have appeared this week are new models from Dell and Lenovo that both look to break new ground in the design space.From Dell, the XPS 13 boasts a full 13in screen crammed into the casing of an 11in notebook model. The Texan PC giant was able to squeeze a couple more inches of screen space into the notebook by nearly doing away with the bezel (the black part around the screen).The XPS 13 ranges in cost from a US$849 low-end model to a $1949 setup. The notebook can be equipped with Intel Core i3, i5 or i7 processors and either 4GB or 8GB RAM. The notebook is equipped with SSD storage scaling from 128GB to 512GB.All models come with the 13.3in Infinity Display and Intel HD 5500 graphics. The notebook weighs in at 2.8lbs regardless of configuration and ships with Windows 8.1.If a lighter notebook is your thing, Lenovo has introduced a new featherweight entry to the 13in market. The company’s LaVie Z notebook weighs in at just 1.72 lbs. The company credits the weight reduction to the use of a lighter magnesium-lithium case material and other lightweight internal components.

Inside, the Lavie Z notebook can be equipped with up to a Core i7 and either 4 or 8 GB of RAM. The lightweight laptop is limited to a 128GB SSD and Intel HD integrated graphics. Lenovo said the notebook won’t be shipping until May and will sport a starting price of $1,299. The judge presiding over the pretrial of alleged Silk Road kingpin Ross Ulbricht has smacked down the accused’s attempts to have some charges dropped ahead of the start of next week’s trial.Judge Katherine Forrest’s decision was given orally during December with the court stating its reasoning would be published in full, which has now happened.Ulbricht’s lawyers had asked the court to preclude evidence relating to Silk Road product listings and transactions; the “murder-for-hire” accusations; various government exhibits; evidence of fraudulent documentation; and various other related items.The judge has now explained in detail why she comprehensively smacked down the requests, and in doing so has provided a hugely detailed outline of the evidence the Feds hope will put Ulbricht behind bars.Most damning if it stands up in the trial will be the murder-for-hire evidence. While the government states that no murders were apparently carried out, the allegation Ulbricht solicited murders is based not only on extensive records of communications between him and others (recovered from his laptop), but also transaction records between DPR and Silk Road user “redandwhite”.

And there’s the matter of trying to solicit an undercover Drug Enforcement Agency to carry out one of the murders Ulbricht wanted.If they survive the evidence process in a trial, Ulbricht’s communications and conversations include repeated claims that he had contract killings carried out. For example: “On February 23, 2013, Ulbricht reported to CC-1 that he had successfully arranged the Employee’s capture and execution” (page 5).“Redandwhite” also made repeated claims to have carried out murders for money, and been paid by DPR, something which will no doubt draw a lot of attention in evidence when the trial starts.Another angle closed off by the judge is that the electronic messages recovered by the Feds from Ulbricht’s laptop, server logs and other sources can’t be authenticated to Ulbricht.On that matter, the ruling is that the prosecution’s ability to authenticate the messages sufficiently to satisfy a jury is “best answered at trial”.

The trial is scheduled to begin on 13 January. Ulbricht denies the charges. WD is demonstrating a faster-than-Seagate 4TB hybrid flash/disk drive at Storage Visions 2015.It is built with 3.5-inch disk drive, an up to 128GB SSD, and the SATA Express PCIe interface with the flash and disk components presented as a single volume.The demos include commercially available ASRock and Gigabyte motherboards with cabled SATA Express PCIe interconnect flexibility and single-volume caching and RAID configuration options.The SATA Express PCIe scheme has multiple PCIe lanes and two SATA 3.0 (6Gbit/s) ports active through a single host SATA Express connector. WD demonstrated hard disk drives connected using SATA Express in June last year, with partners ASUS and Gigabyte.Hybrid flash/disk drives offer disk levels of capacity and near-SSD performance at lower prices.It was sampling WD Black 2.5-inch hybrid drives in January 2013 with 500GB and 1TB disk drives and up to 24GB of flash. WD launched a 1TB Black drive with 120GB of flash in November 2013.Seagate announced a 3.5-inch desktop SSHD in March 2013 with 1 or 2TB of capacity and 8GB of flash in the case. Its main hybrid focus has been on 2.5-inch drives, starting with Momentus XTs in 2010, and laptop SSHDs in 2013, plus its Enterprise Turbo SSHD with 600GB of disk capacity and 16GB of flash in June 2013.

WD said that in its "labs, WD’s SATA Express 4TB drive with 64GB cache achieved a PCMark8 benchmark score of 4459, demonstrating near-SSD performance at an optimised GB-per-dollar value". Its announcement release includes a chart showing this:The chart shows the 4TB hybrid being much faster than a 4TB HDD, as well as being cheaper, and almost as fast as a 256GB SSD. It is faster than two other hybrid flash/disk drives, labelled SSHDs on the chart. Which supplier made these 2TB and 4TB products?We suspect they were Seagate Desktop SSHD products and WD is beating them on performance by having much more than 8GB of flash available as well as using the SATA Express interface.“We see the industry moving toward simplification of the overall PC subsystem to a single storage bus based around the PCIe protocol," said Gary Meister, WD’s SVP of engineering. "In this demo, we placed a hard drive, flash NAND and SATAe technology into one package, freeing up one slot in the system." Paris airport security went one step further than simply asking a security expert to power up her laptop – they requested she type in her password to decrypt her hard drive and log into the machine.

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