Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Corsair Voyager Mini Flash Drive Key Ring Style

A friend of mine was showing off his little flash drive he had on his keychain and when I compared it to my clunky Sandisk Cruzer I knew he just cost me money!  Techbargains had a coupon deal on the Corsair so I bought one.  What I really like is the Corsair Voyager is USB 3.0.

The Corsair Voyager is made out of brushed metal.  The key ring holder is rubberized and is held on with a pin that swings easily so it won’t get caught up on your keychain.  It also includes the key-ring. 

Surprisingly it was not formatted as NTFS.  I really don’t like FAT, so I reformatted the drive.  Numbers wise this is no speed demon.  But for under $40 bucks what do you expect?  I compared the speeds using Crystal Disk Mark 3.0.3.  A typical USB 2.0 drive (Sandisk Cruzer) will get around 27meg/s and the USB 3.0 Corsair gets around 42meg/s.  So there is a nice improvement.  Write speeds were not very impressive with the Corsair.  The Lexar S73 JumpDrive write speeds were more than double the Corsair.  I had a few SD cards that I also benchmarked to see where the Corsair landed.

Overall I am happy with the Voyager Mini.  The size is perfect and I am enjoying the USB 3.0 speeds.  

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Load Windows without a CD or DVD drive

My latest laptop does not have an optical drive.  The hard drive failed and it took me a second to realize that this is going to be a hassle.  It turns out Microsoft did something pretty cool. They have a free utility to convert an ISO image to a bootable USB flash drive.  I already had a Windows 7 Ultimate in ISO format so I downloaded the utility from the Microsoft store and installed it on my desktop.  It was super easy.

If you don’t have Windows in ISO format it’s easy to make an ISO file.  Obviously you need Windows on an optical disc to make an ISO.  There is a free utility called IMGBurn that will do the job.  Choose the option “Create image file from disc” and select a file name and location and let ImagBurn make your ISO.

Then download and install the Windows USB DVD utility.  Insert your USB flash drive in your computer and select the correct drive letter from the Windows utility and then navigate to the ISO image you made. Let it write the Windows program to the flash drive, this takes several minutes.

On the computer that has no optical drive you may have to enter the BIOS and change the boot order or enable USB booting.  In my case it just found the USB drive and booted from it.  It’s surprisingly fast to load Windows from a USB flash drive.  And I had a USB 2.0 drive, on USB 3.0 it’s probably even faster. 

I would suggest making a bootable USB flash drive before you have a hard drive failure.  USB flash drives are cheap and it’s easy enough to carry one around.  You will need at least 4gb of free space to make a bootable Windows 7 disc.  Some images are larger if they have slipstreamed updates preinstalled.  I would recommend a 8gb flash drive.

For more information on the Microsoft Windows USB DVD Tool read here.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

iPod mini 64gb upgrade

I decided to buy another broken iPod mini on eBay.  This time though I decided to try a SD card using a CF adapter.  They make CF adapters that accept SD cards.  The reason for going this route was price.  CF flash memory cards are a lot more expensive than a SD card.  I picked up a Transcend 64gb Class 10 card for $40 on Amazon.  A Transcend CF 64gb card is $75 on Amazon.  The CF adapters are going for $13, so even with the added cost of the adapter it’s still cheaper to buy a SD card.

SD cards over 32gb are SD XC.  That can present a problem with some CF adapters.  Many adapters are only compatible with SD HC cards. The adapter I ordered on Amazon (DigiGear Part# X000BN5CZZ) made no mention of it being compatible with SD XC but when I received the adapter they clearly updated the product.  Amazon’s photos and details are out of date.  The card is compatible with SD XC and is even stamped right on the adapter itself.

Now the bad news.  The write speeds are much slower using a SD card.  For many that may not matter.  I don’t change my music very often on my iPod’s so it’s no big deal, but I know for some that’s going to be a hassle. 

So for around $70 you can buy and upgrade an iPod mini to 64gb.  That’s a pretty decent price.  And the mini’s are USB and Firewire.  That’s a huge plus for anyone like myself that has an older iPod interface that only supports Firewire.