Monthly Archives: April 2013

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Kingston SSDNow V300 (120GB & 240GB) Review

Kingston's SSD lineup is as follows: they have HyperX-branded SSDs for enthusiasts and the mainstream market is catered by SSDNow brand. The HyperX SSDs have been fairly popular from what I've seen but the SSDNow brand has been rather inconsistent. Kingston has used controllers from multiple manufacturers in the SSDNow lineup and the naming system has been confusing to say the least. Kingston has been using a plus sign (e.g. V+200) to separate their higher-end offerings from the slower non-plus version (e.g. V200). However, the plus sign has never had any definite meaning and at least I've always found it to be very confusing.

With the V300, there's hope that the SSDNow lineup will be simplified and consumers will no longer have to look for (or avoid) the "better" plus sign version. The V300 is based on (surprise!) SandForce's SF-2281 controller and uses Kingston packaged (but Toshiba/SanDisk manufactured) 19nm MLC NAND. Kingston has used SF-2281 in some of their HyperX drives and it's a generally known quantity, but let's see how Kingston's newest mainstream SSD performs.

‘Change The Anti-Tesla Law’ Argues Long-Time Texas Car Dealer

We’ve covered how car dealers across the country have tried to prevent Tesla from selling cars in their state with the help of antiquated franchise laws, especially in Texas. Now a longtime Texas dealer is speaking out on Tesla’s behalf.

Many generations ago, dealerships who had franchises got their state legislatures to ban manufacturers from selling cars directly to their customers. As a way of preventing automakers from undercutting their own dealers this isn’t necessarily an unreasonable position, but using them as a tool to prevent competition between dealers isn’t what the measures were intended to do.

In today’s Houston Chronicle there’s a great Op-Ed from retired Houston-based car dealer Sterling McCall (everyone in Houston knows his dealership) arguing for Tesla. He manages to defend the idea of the existing law while arguing, persuasively, why Texas should consider a law in front of the legislature that would allow Tesla to sell in the state.

Tesla’s model is to sell direct to consumers. And, while existing law in Texas dictates cars must be sold through a dealer, I believe there is room in our state for franchise dealers and a U.S.-based all-electric-car manufacturer to both sell to consumers. That is what pending legislation would allow, updating to fit this unique circumstance.We ought to welcome competition – and the innovation – that Tesla brings, just as dealerships already compete to sell more gas-powered, hybrid and natural gas vehicles from the country’s larger manufacturers.

It’s something the public wants. Ninety-nine percent of respondents to a Los Angeles Times online poll said that Tesla ought to be allowed to conduct direct sales of its cars. Right here in Texas, 87 percent of respondents in an Austin Business Journal online poll agree, too.

Of all the fights Elon Musk’s picked (and there are many), this is the one enthusiasts should most want to see him win. Dealership laws create a barrier for small volume automakers who want to bring their products to the market.

(Hat tip to GunsAndTacos)

Is This Tiny Tank the Comfiest Wheelchair Ever?

It might look like a one-seat sofa capable of traversing almost any terrain on the planet, but this compact electric vehicle is actually designed to be a highly maneuverable and comfortable alternative to a traditional wheelchair. You won’t ever see it cruising down sidewalks, but one day they might be crawling all over hospitals.

The treads allow the Unimo to easily tackle six-inch steps, and with a zero turning radius it can even spin itself around inside an elevator. The EV’s seat automatically adjusts its angle when the tiny tank is rolling down an inclined slope so the passenger always feels secure. And in terms of speed it maxes out at just under four miles per hour, keeping hospital pileups to a minimum. [Nano-Optonics Energy via Tech-On!]

Redact offers £10,000 if you crack its messaging app, bets UK government you can’t

Redact offers 10,000 if you crack its messaging app, bets UK government you can't

Software developers looking to kickstart (or simply brag about) their security have a common trick up their sleeve: give away prizes to successful crackers. Redact is trying just such a strategy with its Secure Messenger app for iOS. It’s offering £10,000 ($15,482) to anyone who can visit London and successfully intercept an encrypted message delivered through the company’s peer-based, PIN-to-PIN communication system. Entrants have until June 1st to prove that they’re worthy of making an attempt. Redact has more reason to hope we lose beyond its pride and a big fat check, however — it wants approval for handling the UK government’s secure data, and it wouldn’t hurt to have proof that the app design is airtight. If you’re convinced that it’s all just bluster, you can challenge the company yourself at the source link.

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Via: The Guardian

Source: Redact

For $8,000, Put Your Ass In The Astroghini

The Discovery Channel’s Ultimate Car Build Off pitted two shops against one another in the contest to build an “innovative vehicle” and win one hundred grand. Today’s Nice Price or Crack Pipe Astro is a typical result, but now that it’s been ultimately built off will you find its price to be the ultimate blow off?

It looks like the seller of yesterday’s Ess-Bee-See Ya’ Later equipped 914 didn’t blow it when it came to pricing the beast. That intercontinental ballistic Porsche came away with a laudable 73% Nice Price win, and some pretty substantial Jalop love for its audacity of scope.

And speaking of love, when the Butthole Surfers sang I’m in love with a TV Star, I wonder if they were really talking about today’s Ultimate Car Build star, the Astroghini? No, you don’t think so? Okay, well then let’s just see how much love there is here, for both it and its price.

It used to be that the Discovery Channel offered up edutainment on par with the dryly pedagogic fare on PBS, but that’s no more. These days, the basic cable station crowds its schedule with shows like Amish Mafia, Naked Castaway, and Sons of Guns. And of course that’s where you could catch Ultimate Car Build, a show that pitted one car shop against another in a contest to see who could impress Chip Foose the most.

Ultimate Car Build is long gone – and apparently we’re all the better for that fact – but its detritus still remains, including this chopped and 350-powered 1994 Chevy Astro van.

Dubbed the Astroghini, and featuring a nose that… well, damn if it doesn’t have a Murcielago vibe, this custom was built for the TV show by Hollywood Hot Rods. The roof has been dropped like the beat, and the whole thing is hunkered down on black-painted five-spoke alloys. Oh, and that black section behind the windows isn’t glass, that’s all metal.

This isn’t the Astroghini’s first rodeo, having previously appeared on eBay shortly after the Ultimate Car Build show was dumped from the schedule. Back then it was apparently powered by a turbocharged 4.6-litre that rocked nitrous. According to the current ad, it now sports a less likely to grenade 350, which puts its power down through a THM350 automatic.

The interior sports but a single seat along with a hefty roll cage and what appears to be a hole in the floor to accommodate the dropped suspension. Yippee.

One of the most hilarious aspects of the whole truck is the back end where the builders have been applied as stick figures on the back window, and where the dutch door hinges still are in evidence despite the doors having been sealed off. Double yippee with a twist.

Who the eff would buy something like this? Well, obviously someone thought it was a good deal at one time or another, as it apparently sold once and is now being offered for cash or the trade of a sport bike. While it’s unlikely that this van would serve anyone’s purpose on the road, it could stand as a draw for a business, parade participant, or cautionary tale.

That limited applicability really puts the hurt on the Astroghini’s value proposition and it is now time for you all to determine just exactly how much so, in relation to the $8,000/sport bike equation.

What do you think this TV star’s residuals should be? Is it worth that $8,000 the seller is asking? Or, like the show, should this custom van’s price get cancelled?

You decide!

Southbend Craigslist, or go here if the ad disappears.

H/T to Xenokilla for the hookup!

Help me out with NPOCP. Click here to send a me a fixed-price tip, and remember to include your commenter handle.

Belkin’s Mythical Thunderbolt Express Dock Is Finally Here

Nearly 600 days have passed since we first swooned over Belkin’s Thunderbolt Express Dock all the way back in September 2011. (Really, it’s been 595 days, but who’s counting?) Well today, the long-promised, and long-delayed multi-port I/O hub for Macs is a thing you can actually buy. It’s available this morning at for $300.

OK, so the Thunderbolt Express Dock is really just a super-fast hub capable of connecting all of your desktop cables to your computer with a single wire. But it’s no small deal. Apple introduced Thunderbolt ports to Macs back in February 2011, and there aren’t many products out there that take advantage of the standard’s simultaneous 10 Gbps upstream/downstream potential. You can buy a couple of hard drives, Apple’s $1000 Thunderbolt display, but that’s about it. That’s STILL true today, just like it was in 2011. The Express Dock is a (semi)-affordable convenience that basically anyone can benefit from.

Now that it’s here, here’s what you get. The dock’s backside is pocked with ports that funnel in and then connect to your computer with a single Thunderbolt cable: three USB 3.0 slots, Firewire 800, a Gigabit ethernet jack, 3.5mm audio input and output, and two (!) Thunderbolt inputs for your daisy-chaining delight.

Desktop cable clutter, gone. Can a single cable really handle all that I/O? We’ll believe nothing about the Express Dock until we see it with our eyes. Here’s hoping. [Belkin]

Acer Aspire V5 11.6-inch notebook leaked with $450 price tag, unexpected AMD Temash chip

Acer Aspire V5 11.6-inch notebook leaked with $450 price tag, unexpected AMD Temash chip

While AMD announced its new Temash APU (alongside others) at this year’s CES, the only device we’ve seen sporting it was an intriguing reference hybrid that made the rounds at the show. Now, details of an Acer Aspire V5 notebook have emerged, indicating the company is preparing its first Temash-powered device for general consumption. Acer already has a trio of Aspire V5 models with Intel Core processors and NVIDIA handling the graphics, but a half-complete product page for an unannounced V5-122P-0643 swaps those components out for AMD’s wares. Formally called the AMD A6-1450, the Temash APU combines a quad-core 1GHz processor — or 1.4GHz in “Turbo” state — with a Radeon HD 8280 GPU. When put into tablets, it has an unusually low, sub-5W power envelope that allows for passive cooling. While we don’t know exactly what wattage this Acer notebook will have, the presence of Temash should bode well for battery life. Head past the break for more details.

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Via: MiniMachines

Source: Acer

Belkin’s Thunderbolt Express dock is finally shipping, offers its ports for $299

Remember the Belkin Thunderbolt Express dock that we first laid our peepers on back at CES 2012? Well, the device that looks to lend a hand to your desktop setup is now available. After upgrading the unit back in the summer of 2012, pre-orders went live in February with a ship date expected shortly thereafter. No word on the cause of the delay, but the $299 dock still offers dual Thunderbolt ports for daisy-chaining up to five gadgets, FireWire 800, Ethernet, and both 3.5mm audio input and output. If the wait hasn’t swayed your interest, grab one immediately via the source link below, and in stores before the end of May.

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Source: Belkin

ASUS Zenbook UX51VZ: Great Laptop, High Price

I have quite a few laptops that have been languishing in a non-fully-reviewed state for a while. The New Year was been a bit crazy, and in the midst of trying to update the benchmark suite and some other items, the time for a full review is long since passed. We’re finally done with our 2013 Mobile Benchmark Suite, however, and as we’ll have a variety of laptops to review in the coming weeks, I thought the UX51VZ was a good start for our new test suite.

ASUS Zenbook UX51VZ: Great Laptop, High Price

I have quite a few laptops that have been languishing in a non-fully-reviewed state for a while. The New Year was been a bit crazy, and in the midst of trying to update the benchmark suite and some other items, the time for a full review is long since passed. We’re finally done with our 2013 Mobile Benchmark Suite, however, and as we’ll have a variety of laptops to review in the coming weeks, I thought the UX51VZ was a good start for our new test suite.