Seagate FreeAgent DockStar Network Adapter Review

16 January, 2010

Seagate just added a new line of its docking station, Seagate FreeAgent DockStar Network Adapter. It's not just a docking, Seagate has made it more accessible. You can connect the docking to ethernet port and access it from anywhere with the internet.

Thanks to Cloud Engine, the makers of Pogoplug. With their technology, you can manage your Dockstar-connected USB drive by visiting or The difference of Pogoplug and Dockstar is on its price. With Dockstar you must pay $30 per year starting from the second year to get the Web-based access, while Pogoplug offer it for free.

To activate the Dockstar you should visit Create an account on the website, and you are ready to manage your hard drive with Web-based interface.

Seagate make it easier to manage your hard drive with Web-based management interface from your local network or the internet. But, is $30 per year worth it? The choice is yours.

More Seagate FreeAgent DockStar Network Adapter pictures.


Dell Ultrasharp U2711 Review

09 January, 2010

Dell's Ultrasharp U2711 is an expensive LCD monitor from Dell. It's $1,049. Very expensive for some home users. But professionals users may be thinking that its price is not too expensive if compared to its rich features and performance.

This 27-inch monitor has 2,560x1,440 resolution and 16:9 aspect ration. With its price, it should be 1080p ready. The response rate is 6ms. It has matte black chassis with a gray highlight. We think it might be too large for home users who only use computer to browse the internet or listening to music. But it is a dream of every professionals in graphics design.

U2711's panel can be unscrewed from the stand and mounted on the wall. But there is only landscape mode, no portrait mode at all.

There are five buttons on the lower right-hand corner of the bezel. You can change the OSD menu with these buttons. Unfortunately the U2410 OSD button's sensitivity is low. Sometimes you should push them harder to make them work.

The Dell UltraSharp U2711 have a complete OSD menu. You can change its brightness, contrast, and various color options with the OSD. You can also change the hue, sharpness, and color saturation with the OSD menu.

There are a lot of video connection options. VGA, HDMI, DisplayPort, Component, Composite, and two DVI ports. There are also two USB downstream ports, one USB upstream port, an audio out port, and a speaker port. There are two more USB downstream ports and one card reader port on the left side of the panel. The complete connection options is a must if we look at the price.

If you're a graphic professional, then this monitor is for you. Yes it is expensive, butworth it.

See more pictures.


Boston Acoustics i-DS3 plus iPod Speaker System Review

26 August, 2009

* Reviewed by:
Jeff Bakalar
* Reviewed on: 08/24/2009

CNET-We've never been disappointed with the sound quality coming from a Boston Acoustics iPod speaker as the company provides some of the best-sounding iPod devices out there. That said, these products still leave us wanting more. Unfortunately, the iDS3 is no exception. While it offers fantastic iPod sound, it doesn't include enough features to justify its steep price.

As with most Boston Acoustics products, the iDS3 is available in two base colors: black or white. Both units ship with a glossy high-quality plastic encasing. However, you can customize the grille color by visiting the company's Web site ( where you can choose between a variety of colors. These grilles usually cost about $15.

The overall design of the iDS3 is minimalistic. Four buttons rest on top of the device, a power button, volume control, and a "wide stereo" button that turns on a special listening mode.

The iDS3 is practical in size--you shouldn't have a problem resting it on a bookshelf or end table. The system requires AC power and isn't portable, so that's something to keep in mind. Also, we don't recommend placing the wireless subwoofer too far away from the base. With the sub activated, you're going to use two electrical outlets with this system.

Both the base speaker and subwoofer have standby switches that'll need to be flipped on to power them. Energy conservationists shouldn't be turned away here, as both devices have an auto-shut off function. Basically, there's no need to ever turn the power switches off (unless they're unplugged) as there is only a negligible power draw when it is off.

Setting up the iDS3 is simple. In fact, our system synced up right out of the box. If for some reason you have a different experience, just make sure both wireless IDs (on the base and woofer) are set to the same number channel.

The iDS3 supports all iPods fifth generation and higher. In addition, it fully supports the iPhone and iPod Touch. This means you won't need to put the iPhone into "airplane mode" to avoid interference. Even better, you'll be able to receive calls while using the phone with the iDS3. Boston Acoustics provides you with a handful of iPod dock adapters so that your specific iPod will fit snuggly when attached.

The included remote is slim, about the size and girth of a few credit cards stacked on top of each other. There isn't too much functionality offered on it, but you'll be able to do the basically play/pause and skip track commands you'd expect. However, there are buttons for shuffle and repeat, something we don't usually see on an iPod speaker remote. All this aside, you'll still need to manually navigate through music directly on your music player.

On the rear of the iDS3 you find two video-out options. If your iPod is loaded up with video, you'll be able to output via S-Video or composite via the two interfaces. Just make sure you set your iPod to "TV-out" when doing so.

There's also room for a line-in auxiliary device. It's only an RCA analog audio connection, but getting most devices to play nicely with that interface isn't a problem. For most products (like those with headphone jacks) a simple 1/8 inch to RCA analog audio adapter is all you'll need.

During our testing, audio performance was well above average. The two-way main speaker base combined with the impressively powerful six-inch subwoofer provided us with a rich and clear sound and a large of amount of range. The subwoofer has a noticeable oomph behind it and you can customize its power using the rear volume knob. During our test we were most satisfied with it turned up at about 65 percent.

The subwoofer can be placed up to 75 feet away from the base and allows you to control its volume.

The system also offers a "wide stereo" function. Boston Acoustics doesn't say much about what it actually does and we didn't notice any real difference in our listening experience during our testing with it. That said, it can be activated via the remote or the button on top of the base speaker's grille. It will light orange when activated.

There is not much to complain about with iDS3. While it performs very well, we do wish it offered a few more features to sweeten the deal. The addition of an AM/FM radio would improve its appeal and barely affect the price. Boston Acoustics has the iDS3 retailing for a whopping $500 on the company's Web site but we found it for as low as $360 online.

While $360 is still a bit much to pay for a dedicated iPod speaker, it has impressive sound. If you're looking for more features and a wireless subwoofer isn't exactly what you're in the market for, check out the company's Horizon Duo-i systems. They cost as low as $130, offer great sound quality, and have an AM/FM radio.

Alternatively, you can opt for the previous Boston Acoustics "iDS" model, the iDS2. It features the same feature set as the iDS3 but without the wireless subwoofer. It offers great sound quality and is significantly cheaper--available for as low as $140 online.


AT&T USBConnect Mercury

01 August, 2009

CNET editors' review

* Reviewed by:
Bonnie Cha
* Reviewed on: 07/31/2009

Just like the T-Mobile WebConnect USB, the Verizon Wireless USB760, and the Sierra Wireless 598U for Sprint, the AT&T USBConnect Mercury offers Internet connectivity on the go via cellular or Wi-Fi connection. Compact and simple, the portable modem is great for anyone who works on the road but, we'd recommend getting one of the aforementioned products before the USBConnect Mercury. Coverage could be spotty at times and download and upload speeds were often slow, which made it quite frustrating to use and not even worth the free price tag (with a two-year contract and after rebates). Also, like the other adapters, the AT&T USBConnect Mercury requires a data plan--$60 per month for 5GB of data--but be aware that AT&T charges $0.49 per MB for overage fees, which is considerably more than T-Mobile, Sprint, and Verizon.

Manufactured by Sierra Wireless, the AT&T USBConnect Mercury measures 2.6 inches tall by 1 inch wide by 0.7 inch deep and weighs just 1.2 ounces. To help you keep track of the little guy, AT&T ships the portable modem with a carrying strap that you can attach to the removable cap, which protects the USB connector, and then clip onto your body or bag. There's an external antenna jack on the right side of the device, and on front, you'll find two LEDs: the left one stays a solid blue when powered on and the right blinks or remains a solid orange or blue depending on network activity.

Like the others, the USBConnect Mercury is a plug-and-play solution that you can connect to your laptop just like a flash drive. In fact, the modem has a built-in microSD expansion slot so it can double as a storage device; AT&T has tested with up to 4GB cards but, according to Sierra Wireless, it can support up to 32GB. However, we weren't so fond of the location of the expansion slot or the SIM card slot. Both sit right above the USB connector so it's difficult to insert and remove either card just by hand. We much prefer the other carrier's modem designs, which have the expansion slot located either on the side or bottom.

When you first connect the USBConnect Mercury to your laptop (compatible with machines running Windows Vista, XP and 2000; Mac OS 10.4.11 or later), it will automatically launch and install the necessary drivers and software to your computer. While there's very little action required by the user, the installation process does take a while; in fact, AT&T notes in its documentation that it takes about 10 minutes.

Once installed and after restarting your computer, you should find the AT&T Communication Manager on your desktop. There you can connect to AT&T's network or any available Wi-Fi networks. Like the T-Mobile WebConnect and Verizon Wireless USB760, you can also use the software to send, receive, and manage text messages with a cellular connection. The software interface is dead simple with two main tabs GSM or Wi-Fi. There are also options to manage your connections, set up a VPN, run diagnostics, and more. Unfortunately, the modem does not offer integrated GPS like the Sierra Wireless 598U.

The AT&T USBConnect Mercury supports the carrier's EDGE (850/900/1,800/1,900MHz) and HSDPA (850/1,900/2,100MHz) networks; AT&T claims to have the fastest 3G network and says its typical download speeds range between 700Kbps and 1.7Mbps and upload speeds in the 500Kbps to 1.2Mbps range. However, when compared with the competing carriers' offerings, we found the USBConnect Mercury to be the most frustrating to use because of the inconsistent coverage and pokey speeds.

We tested the modem on our Lenovo ThinkPad T61 throughout San Francisco, and the 3G coverage was really spotty and it wasn't uncommon to have six bars of coverage one minute and then down to one or two bars the next. As we've done with other cellular modems, we ran tests using and the USBConnect Mercury offered an average of 1.24Mbps for download speeds but a lowly 320Kbps for uploads. Perhaps more telling, with a signal strength of -70dbm, it took 2 minutes and 28 seconds for CNET's site to fully load while took 1 minute 30 seconds, 1 minute 40 seconds, and the 1 minute 31 seconds. The T-Mobile WebConnect, Verizon Wireless USB760, and Sierra Wireless 598U for Sprint loaded all the same sites in 30 seconds or less. After having experienced better, we just can't see a reason to choose the USBConnect Mercury over the others.

Product summary

The good: The AT&T USBConnect Mercury is easy to use, and offers expandable memory. You can also get the cellular modem for free after rebates.

The bad: The SIM card and microSD expansion slots are in an inconvenient location. The modem doesn't offer GPS capabilities. AT&T's 3G coverage was spotty and the carrier charges higher overage fees than the competitors.

The bottom line: While the AT&T USBConnect Mercury is simple to use and can be had for free, it simply doesn't offer the reliable coverage and faster speeds of the competition.


Casio XJS43W Super Slim Projector

21 July, 2009

The Biggest and The Best

The new Casio Super Slim XJS43W model looks like all other Super Slims series. The projector height 1.7 inches and weighs less than 4.8 pounds. It's just like netbook's dimension. The dimension make the Casio projector portable.

The special feature of Casio XJS43W is the widescreen capability. XJ-S43W sports a WXGA resolution of 1,280 x 800. It will match nicely with latest wide-screen laptop on the market. The XJS43W have 2500 lumens of brightness. It's very bright for slim projector.
The Casio also have a very small remote control.

Slim dimension
Good focus and zoom
Wide aspect ratio

No laser pointer

Specs Native Resolution: WXGA (1280 x 800)
Imaging Engine: Single 0.65” DLP chip from Texas Instruments
Lamp: up to 2,000 hours


LG N4B1 Super Multi NAS With Blu-ray Rewriter

10 July, 2009

LG N4B1 Super Multi NAS With Blu-ray Rewriter

Computer Shopper

Key Specs
Capacity: Drive-dependent
Interface: Gigabit Ethernet; USB; four-format memory-card reader
Spin Rate: Drive-dependent
Dimensions (HWD): 11.4x7.5x10.7 inches
Weight: 15.4 pounds (without drives)

Reviewed by: John R. Delaney
Review Date: July 2009

Small-business and consumer-grade network-attached-storage (NAS) drives have grown like topsy over the last several years, thanks to the ever-expanding need for network access to (and backup of) bushels of media and data files. There's certainly no shortage of drives on the market (we recently looked at 13 of them), and most of the ones we've seen don't differ tremendously from one another.

As a result, we have to give props to LG Electronics. The company's N4B1 Super Multi NAS With Blu-ray Rewriter is a unique four-bay NAS enclosure featuring a built-in Blu-ray burner, plus a smart mix of connectivity ports and a user-friendly interface. In addition to FTP, print-server, and iTunes-server support, it provides an easy way to archive optical media, and it's a snap to install. Our only complaint: At $799, it’s expensive, given the fact that you have to supply your own hard drives.

The N4B1 is larger than most four-bay enclosures.

Measuring 11.4x7.5x10.7 inches (HWD) and weighing 15.4 pounds, the N4B1 is much bulkier than other four-bay enclosures we've seen, such as Seagate’s BlackArmor NAS 440, which is nearly 4 inches shorter. The enclosure is a glossy white cabinet with the LG badge affixed to each side. Behind a silver door on the front of the unit are four bays for hot-swappable hard drives. Above them are a tray-loading 8x-write Blu-ray burner, a small two-line LCD status panel, and four function buttons (Set, Mode, Power, and Disc Open). A flash-memory-card reader (supporting the SD, MultiMediaCard, Memory Stick, and xD-PictureCard formats) and a USB port are located below the drive bays. Around back are two additional USB ports, a Gigabit Ethernet port, and an external Serial ATA (eSATA) port for connecting an external drive.

A card reader and a USB port are located on the lower front.

Each of the four drive bays contains a numbered drive caddy with a locking latch that holds it firmly in place. Included in the box are screws for securing the drives to the caddies, as well as a set of screws that can be used to hold the caddies in place to prevent accidental removal. What are not included are the actual hard drives, which you’ll have to supply yourself. (LG did send us four 1TB drives for use in our tests.)

The numbered drive trays slide easily in and out of the enclosure.

Pressing the Set button displays key status information, such as the NAS IP address, storage capacity, and cooling-fan speed, while the Mode button is used to perform quick and easy backups to and from the Blu-ray drive. The drive supports rewritable media, which means you can perform multiple backups on a single disc using BD-RE and DVD-RW media, so long as you keep the writing session open. Data can be archived as backup sets or burned directly to disc. Copy-protected content, such as movies, cannot be archived, however. The Mode button is also used to back up USB drives or flash-memory cards and to manually change the IP address.

As with most NAS devices, the N4B1 is a multifunction appliance. In addition to its primary role as a shared data-storage repository, it can be pressed into service as an FTP server, and it has iTunes and print-server capabilities, as well. The Web-based interface is straightforward and intuitive, making it easy to create and manage user accounts, shares, and groups, as well as schedule backups using the included Comnso backup-and-restore software. From within the management console, you can view and edit drive volumes; set up power-saving features such as timed hibernation; tweak IP and other LAN settings; and synchronize with external devices.

The back-panel port array: Ethernet and eSATA, plus two additional USB.

Installing the N4B1 was fairly easy, thanks to the well-written quick-install guide, but it was time-consuming. After the drives were installed and the device was connected to our four-port router, we were prompted to insert the included LG NAS Installer disc, which walks you through the RAID-configuration choices. We chose the default setting of RAID 5 (RAID 0, RAID 1, and JBOD are also options), since we were using four identical drives, and it took a little over 16 hours for the N4B1 to format and configure the drives. Once the drives were ready to go, we set up a public share folder, which was immediately recognized in Vista’s Network folder. The Blu-ray drive also showed up as a network optical drive. It’s worth noting that the N4B1 is extremely quiet; if not for the blue glow of the LCD panel, you would never know the device was running.

Performance-wise, the N4B1 turned in mixed results on our transfer-speed tests. It needed 15 minutes and 46 seconds to write our 10GB test folder, which was almost twice as long as the Seagate BlackArmor’s write time, but almost identical to that of the ZyXel NSA220. Its read time of 5 minutes and 35 seconds was only 1 minute and 44 seconds shy of the Seagate BlackArmor's time, however, and 41 seconds faster than the D-Link DNS-343, another four-bay small-biz-focused enclosure we tested recently. We burned the same 10GB folder from the NAS to an included BD-RE disc using the Blu-ray drive; it took 37 minutes and 54 seconds—not terribly fast, but not surprising, either, considering the supplied media was only capable of 2x write speeds.

The LG N4B1 offers several ways to archive and share your data, and the inclusion of a Blu-ray writer makes it easy to transfer data between the storage drives and various optical-media formats. Still, it’s a pricey solution when you factor in the cost of outfitting it with four high-capacity hard drives. For a few hundred dollars more, the Seagate BlackArmor NAS 440 offers a complete and more compact 4TB NAS solution, if you can make do without the Blu-ray burner.
Price (at time of review): $799 (list)


Built-in Blu-ray drive; generous port selection; easy installation

Expensive; bulky; price does not include hard drives

Editors' Take
With an integrated Blu-ray drive, the N4B1 is one of the most versatile four-bay NAS devices around, but you'll need deep pockets to afford it—not to mention the hard drives it requires.



13 June, 2009

Fast Film Scanning

If you're like most people, you probably have someboxes sitting around filled with photos from yourpre-digital life. Well, if the photos in those boxesare on 35mm slides and negatives, the Memor-easeDigital Film Converter could be right up your alley.Though it's speedy and simple, the device is clearlydesigned for the kind of casual photographer whoapproaches photos primarily as captured memories,rather than someone who worries about things likecomposition and photo quality.

The Memor-ease is just 3.7 by 4.3 by 6.7 inches(HWD) and weighs less than 3 ounces, so finding room for it won't be a problem. It comes with aUSI3 cable, Adobe Photoshop Elements 5.0, and thescanner's Twain driver for Windows XP and Vista.You also get a film holder for up to four 35mm slidesand another for one 35mm strip of film with up tosix frames. The Memor-ease is a converter ratherthan a scanner, so it operates like a camera, with a5-megapixel sensor that captures the entire image atonce. The final result is an 1,800-pixel-pa-inch (ppi)image, indistinguishable from an 1,800-ppi scan.And thanks to its sensor, the Memor-ease deliversthat image at an impressively fast speed.

Unfortunately, the Memor-ease doesn't score aswell on image quality as on speed. The relatively lowresolution doesn't hurt the image much for printingat 4 by 6 inches, but it will make a noticeable difference at larger sizes. Though I can't recommend theMemor-ease unequivocally, for now it's a good solution for casual photographers who are happy with snapshot quality—M. David Stone

PC Magazine April 2009