Like many of us, I take hundreds of photos every week, most are taken using my smartphone, but I also have a DSLR camera, a ‘bridge’ camera, a GoPro and of course my trusty Mavic Pro drone. The smartphone stores the images internally and the other cameras write the images to either SD or Micro SD cards. On top of this, I also carry around an Apple MacBook Pro which allows me to edit my images and video on-the-go.
The golden rule with any data is making sure you have at least 2 copies of images or documents you really don’t want to lose. Having been in IT for over 30 years, I have witnessed a catastrophic loss of data (meaning everything was lost) on a number of occasions and it continues to be the case that you MUST backup your data.
Over the past couple of weeks, I have been testing the Transcend ESD350C Portable SSD. SSD means ‘Solid State Drive’ which means that there are no moving parts. SSD’s are now commonly using in many computers as they are generally much faster than traditional hard disks and use less energy, so your laptop battery lasts longer.
The drive is about the size of a credit card and about 12.5mm thick, it comes in a ruggedized, blue silicone rubber, shock resistant case. Connectivity between the drive and your PC, laptop or mobile device is over a USB3.1 Gen 2 interface using a USB Type-C high-speed connection. Transcend bundle both USB Type-A and Type-C cables, which accommodates desktops and laptops featuring the USB Type-C or USB 3.1 interface and also USB OTG (On the Go) compatible mobile devices with Type-C ports.
The speed of transfer is comparable with internal hard disk drives with quoted speeds of 1,050MB/s giving the potential of copying 20GB files in around 30 seconds!
The unit I tested was the 480GB model, but the drive is also available 240GB and 960GB variants all providing compatibility with desktops, laptops, gaming consoles and on-the-go mobile devices.
Transcend also provide their ‘Elite’ software to allow users to manage backups and encrypt their data synchronization with cloud services.
Everything worked out of the box and was really just a matter of plugging in the cable to my MacBook or Xperia 1 mobile, I didn’t need to install the Elite software and no power supply was needed.
The drives are priced competitively at £85 for the 240GB, £125 for the 480GB or £180 for the 960GB models and available from your favourite online shopping sites.
If you watch Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation, you will find a scene near the end of the movie where Faust (Rebecca Ferguson) hands a USB drive to her ‘handler’ Atlee (Simon McBurney), he then proceeds to surreptitiously erase the contents of the USB stick using an combination of distraction, slight of hand, a Nokia 930 smartphone and a copy of the Financial Times. Thus Faust is oblivious to the smoke and mirrors that has just taken place and continues on with her mission (should she choose to accept it!).
All of the above just seemed completely unnecessary and it was with this still in mind that I began testing and reviewing the Apricorn Aegis Secure Key 3z, a storage device which not only hardware encrypts your data but also includes a self destruct option for those most inconvenient moments when your only option is to completely destroy the data!
The majority of disk encryption is at software level which means that you can access the information, but it is in effect ‘scrambled’ using a password or code. Try enough times using either brute force or dictionary attempts and you may just crack the key and thus give yourself access to the information.
The Secure Key 3z uses a hardware based encryption, namely 256-bit AES XTS. AES is an acronym for “Advanced Encryption Standard”, originally invented in 2001 as the “Rijndael Cypher” after it’s creators Daemen and Rijmen. AES is a widely used encryption standard able to be resilient against attacks. It is in fact so highly respected, it has become to ‘go to’ encryption method for security agencies, banks and governments to trust it with their highly sensitive information and state secrets. The 3z uses 256 bit encryption, which gives a hundred thousand billion billion billion billion billion billion billion billion combinations of keys. With the further addition of the XTS cypher, it renders data stored on the device effectively impossible to access or decrypt.
Out of the box, the Secure Key measures in at 81mm x 18.4mm x 9.5mm and weight 22 grams and has an internal rechargeable battery. Once unpacked, you will need to set up your Admin pin number straightaway as there is no pre-programmed key. This must be between 7 and 16 digits, you cannot set consecutive numbers or numbers which are all the same, this pin is users to set up the Secure Key allows to to manage other features, but more of that later.
As soon a you’ve added your admin user, you can then (if you like) add a standard user. You would use this feature if you were going to manage the Secure Key and were going to issue it to another person to use. Again, this is a fairly straightforward and covered in the ‘quick start guide’.
Whilst locked, the USB is effectively useless, plug it into a computer’s USB port and you will find the computer won’t even recognise the device as it is hardware disabled, in other words it’s switched off. This is indicated by a ‘red’ led illuminating on the device. To unlock the device, you press the green padlock key and then enter either the user or admin pin number and press the green padlock again. The red LED will switch off and the green LED starts flashing, this indicates that device is unlocked and ready for use, it is simply a matter of plugging it in to a spare USB port.
The key itself is USB3.1 but is backwardly compatible to v3, v2 and v1.1. This gives it a surprising turn of speed of to 190MB/s read and 80MB/s write.
OK, so the key performs really nicely and had government grade encryption, what happens if I lose the key and it gets into the hands of an enemy?
First off, the key is encased in a IP58 Dust and Water Resistant tough metal shell with polymer coated wear resistant keys. Inside the electronic components are protected by a filling of hard epoxy resin, making a physical attempt to access the electronics virtually impossible without causing catastrophic damage.
PIN entry ‘brute force’ protection means that if you enter the code number incorrectly more than 3 times, the space between entry of subsequent pins slows down, if the incorrect entry of keys hits 10, the red light on the key will start flashing rapidly, at this point you have 10 more attempts left, if you fail to enter a correct pin within these last attempts, the key will consider itself as under attack and will delete it’s data as a precaution.
Should you be left in the position of Faust and Atlee in Mission Impossible : Rogue Nation, there is in fact a better option for destroying the data on the card (or in fact having a third party do it for you). Yes, the Secure Key supports the entry of a ‘self destruct key‘, a key which is designed to delete all data on the key and reformat the device, this key is then assumed as the standard key for the device and it will behave as a brand new drive.
It was quite fiddly to set up, but I was successful in testing the ‘Self Destruct’ mode, it worked as documented and didn’t give me any indication that it was taking place.
Apricorn have made a very solid product with the Secure Key 3z, it looks and feels the part, it worked very well and the security features were exceptional.
I loved the fact that a company is working SO hard to make the theft of data so difficult. In times of cross border data theft, the counter-measures employed by the Secure Key 3z are both impressive and comforting.
The Gadget Man
Starting at £74 for the 8GB to £228 for 128GB models, the USB Storage Key is reassuringly priced for the corporate market.
Following on from our Tesla Road Trip, I thought it would be a good opportunity to review one of the great pieces of equipment we were able to take with us on the trip.
We had planned to travel some 1200 or so miles from Ness Point to Ardnamurchan Point (and back again) in an electric car, part of the adventure was to try and document the trip. We planned to document the trip using a variety of equipment from Smartphones, stabilised cameras to 4K Drones.
We would likely be presented with many gigabytes of footage and it was therefore imperative that we had a durable solution for data backup and somewhere to copy footage and imagery taken during the trip.
Our rugged backup solution was indeed a Silicon Power Armor A65 portable 1TB hard drive with it’s shockproof and waterproof housing that gives it military grade protection, to U.S Military MIL-STD-810G 516.6 Procedure IV and IP67 Standard for dust and water ingress.
Out of the box, the SP Armor A65, comes with a rubberised casing and IP67 sealed USB 3.0 Socket. IP67 means the device components are sealed from dust and immersion in water up to a meter deep for 30 minutes. The USB 3.0 cable is a full sized male connector at each end, this makes connection to a PC or Laptop very easy as the cable works in either direction. The case also had a slot for either securing the cable to the drive or as a belt clip.
Inside of the heavily protected three layered case lies a Silcon Power 1TB 2.5″ Hard Disk with 1 Terabyte of storage, our brief tests for performance showed a very decent Blackmagic Disk Speed Test score of 71/70. The drive was used extensively both before, during and after the trip and became our ‘go to’ hard disk for the trip.
Included with the drive is Silcon Power’s HDD Lock Utility which runs on MS Windows. This allows you to encrypt all the data stored on the device to give a greater level of security for users
We tested the device for use when we were using both drones and laptops in the field and the added resilience of the device gave us a greater degree of confidence that our data would remain safe even in the most extreme circumstances. It was also used to backup our laptop during the journey.
If you travel often and need the convenience of a simple to connect device that is both rugged and secure, the SP Armor A65 is most certainly worth the investment and can be purchased from the link to the left.
I was sitting in my office in Martlesham on the 10th July 2017 chatting to a colleague about Tesla cars. The conversation had started after he noticed the framed artists sketch hanging on my wall.
I have driven a number of Tesla Model S cars in the past from the excitable P85+ to the ‘Insane’ P85D. They are very exciting cars to drive, not just because they are fully electric and pack extremely powerful single gear motors, but because you feel your are riding on the coattails of automotive history, participating in an irreversible shift change in motorvehicle technology. It’s very exciting!
The conversation moved on the the Model X and Model 3, Tesla’s entries in to the SUV and ‘affordable’ markets. The Model X has recently appeared in the UK, the Model 3 is two years away from being available. We continued to chat for the rest of lunch, but the seed was planted.
That evening I wrote an email to Tesla’s press office requesting the loan of a Model X for review. Nothing specific, simply available dates.
The next day I received a reply from Tesla, it’s explained that things were very busy with the Model X, but the 5th and 6th of October was available for a test drive, did that suit? I puzzled for a while, in the past I had been loaned vehicles for a little longer, to give me time to get to know the vehicle, two days seemed a bit short to get a proper review in place. So, I followed up with an email, requesting a little longer.
I quickly received a reply from Tesla asking what my plans were? OK, good question, time to put on my thinking cap.
15 July 2017
My initial idea was driving from Lands End to John O’Groats, but after a little bit of Googling, I discovered that this had already been done in a Tesla and well documented on YouTube, there was nothing original to achieve in travelling down this this ‘road’.
But wait a minute! Was there? I live about 40 minutes from Ness Point, the most easterly point in the UK. Nestled in Lowestoft, Ness Point at first glance seemed a little unloved. Some thought and effort has been made to build a stone circle, with plaques showing distances to well known points in the UK. It’s quite nice, but the surroundings aren’t that impressive, but it seemed like the obvious starting point for a challenge and wasn’t too far from home.
Now to find the most westerly point of the UK.
Ardnamurchan Lighthouse sits on the most westerly mainland point of the UK accessible by a short ferry ride at Corran and a two hour drive along single track roads across an extinct volcano. There even appeared to be a ‘rapid’ charge point a few miles away at Kichoan Pier, which would set a challenge outside of Tesla’s ‘Supercharger’ network.
The plan was hatched, but it was just the beginning.
As I continue to ride the wave of euphoria of completing the 1200 mile east to west Gadget Road Trip with my lifelong friend Andy. Today I joined BBC Radio Suffolk’s Sarah Lilley on the Sofa in Ipswich and explained how the challenge came about and how it felt to drive 1200 miles in an Electric Car and why I love Gadgets!
I also talked about how I met Vanessa, how I listen to music and an ill fated trip to Tunisia in 1996.
Listen in to the stream, bookmark the site, we have a LOAD of reviews coming up over the next few weeks, so stay tuned!
Following my previous post which can be found here, I talked this morning to Mark Murphy on BBC Radio Suffolk about WannaCry and the effect it has had on the NHS, what needs to be done to stop it happening again and what we can do to protect ourselves.
To read and in depth article on how to protect your computers from such attacks, click here
PLEASE ensure your computers have all their updates installed and make sure you have Anti-Virus software installed.
The Apple iPhone is a very popular device indeed and has played an integral part in the explosion of the Smart Phone and Tablet market over the last 9 years since its launch.
Apple have however played it safe with regard to storage though, happy to keep the iPhone, iPad and iPod firmly enclosed in milled aluminium with internal access to only the SIM card. Hard wiring (or soldering) components into a device means the manufacturer doesn’t need to includ memory and battery adapters which take up space and more importantly depth in the phone. Consequently Apple devices are therefore nice and thin.
Disallowing additional memory means users have to closely monitor their phone storage. It doesn’t take long for those high bitrate 4K videos to start eating into an iPhone internal storage, meaning you need to start archiving videos and photos to another device such as a Mac or PC (or cloud storage if you have the time and data bandwidth) to stop the memory being used up. Worse still, If you are out and about and run out of phone storage, you are going to be looking at dumping what might be precious footage stored on your phone to make space for new photos and videos.
This is where Transcend step in with their JetDrive Go 500G Lightning / USB 3.1 Flash Drive, a very nifty device (or dongle) that plugs directly into your iPhone or iPad’s ‘Lightning’ port and allows you to copy or move your photos and videos straight off your device onto a flash drive and thus free’s up your phone for more film making and photography. You can even take photos directly onto the flash drive if you wish using the Transcend Go App which is automatically downloaded when you first plug the device into your phone or tablet.
The jetDrive Go 500G is different from standard flash drives in as much as it both Lightning and USB on the same device which a connector mounted at end. The lightning ‘end’ plugs directly into your iPhone or iPad and allows you to copy data at speed of up to 20MB/s onto the drive. At the other end of the flash drive is a USB 3.1 connector (recognisable by its blue colour) which connects directly into a PC or Mac and copies data up to an amazing 130MB/s, so again no delays in copying your video and photos over to your desktop or laptop.
The drive comes in two sizes, 32Gb and 64Gb and in either Silver or Gold zinc alloy. These two storage options are going to be a dream come true for those of us with smaller internal storage options and may even delay that dreaded phone upgrade.
Package wise, the flash drive comes in a simple package along with clear instructions, a wrist strap and two plastic caps for either end of the device to protect the connectors. From opening the package, plugging in the device to downloading and running the small “Go” App, I was up and running in literally two minutes.
The device worked flawlessly for me and it wasn’t long before I was zooming around the house, backing up the kids iPads and my wife’s iPhone, it really was very easy to use.
I was certainly surprised how something that could be considered fairly insignificant to look at could actually be a bit of a godsend for the iPhone community. This is an excellent Apple MFi certified product and comes highly recommended from us.
Priced at £50 for the 32gb model and £67 for the 64gb, you can purchase directly from Amazon using the link alongside this text. Other options are available from other manufacturers and outlets, take care to ensure plugin peripherals are certified before using them.
People who know me will know that it isn’t easy to render me speechless, but after trying out my gadget this week, I can honestly say I was! I’m talking about the Transcend WiFi SD Card, a very impressive exercise in both miniaturisation and usefulness.
Most of us will be aware of SD Cards, we use them everyday in our cameras and they are an established way of transferring photos and videos from these devices to our computers, which is kind of where the main problem lies. SD Cards can be very fiddly, more so if you are an active photographer. There is definitely going to be an occasion when you drop or worse still lose your card during handling.
It seems as though Transcend have come up with a very elegant solution to this problem by embedding WiFi technology into the card itself! This is an astounding feat of engineering and works very nicely. Users are able to browse their photos using either an iPhone or Android handset via a downloadable app or if using a computer can connect directly to the card and download the photos using a web browser.
The only stipulation is that your digital camera is supported (click here to view the list) and that the camera is kept powered up during the process.
During the recording of this weeks episode I took a photo of presenter Mark Murphy live on air using the card and shared it on Facebook.
At around £35, the card is in my mind a bargain and I would heartedly recommend it to budding photographers who want to share their memories both quickly and smoothly.
Thank you very much again to Mickaela Noone from Transcend for her assistance.
This week we talk about the Transcend Storejet 25M3 detachable
USB 3.0 hard disk drive. These are ruggedised, which mean that they are a bit more durable than your average portable hard disks and whats more, thet support USB3.0 transfer speeds!
The are whisper quiet to use and work very nicely as a backup device with the addition of a quick backup button and also can encrypt your data, so if you do unfortunately lose the device prying eyes won’t be able to get their hands on your data.
We also tested this device as a Set-top box disk drive, this added the functionalities of pausing and rewinding TV and also recording episodes of programmes. Again it worked flawlessly and more importantly quietly.
To find out more, listen to the stream and find out what I thought of the device.
Thanks to Mickaela at Transcend for her assistance again!!
You can find out more information about Transcend and its other products by liking their Facebook page or following them on Twitter.