We found some wonderful Digital Stocking Stuffers for Digital Storage, NAS, and Pen Displays. Every holiday is better with more and faster storage, and killer input devices.
My Amber Life
Amber is the brainchild of Dr. Pantas Sutardja, Co-founder and CTO of powerhouse chipmaker Marvel. The Amber ecosystem represents an essentially new look at Network Attached Storage. On one level it’s no different then traditional NAS devices in that it has a mass storage device included, dual 1 or 2 TB hard drives, and it plugs into your existing network, but where it differs is how it interfaces with you and the cloud. Included with the device is storage on the LatticeWork cloud, in addition to the built in storage on the Amber device itself. To be sure, NAS devices have had built-in cloud access for years, with Seagate pioneering many of the most popular products a decade back. Amber however included it’s own, encrypted hot spot, so you can access it directly, and use its Wi-Fi, or through the network it’s attached to, or store data on Amber’s cloud, known as LatticeNest. They provide a useful app, for both Android and iOS, called Amber LIFE, and Amber Manager, and both work perfectly in our tests. The problems we had were more in the realm of GUI design, which we felt is totally at home with a roomful of engineering students, but to consumers it’s a bit too rarefied an approach. For example, the company manufacturing Amber is LatticeWork, and the cloud storage for the Amber device is LatticeNest. Wouldn’t it be simpler to name the online storage something like, say, Amber Cloud? Why use the Lattice name at all? GUI redesign tweaks aside, the Amber is a first rate, beautifully engineered solution that provides high level security for your data, and easy access. We look forward to watching the Amber ecosystem grow, refine, and develop. For now, it’s one of the freshest reimaging of NAS. With 4K TV Casting + Smart Video Streaming, and auto backup of multiple devices including phones and computers. For business Amber offers Multi-User Account Support, Secured File Sharing, and File + Folder Versioning and Recovery. So, one device can support a wide variety of users. One of their goals is to have secure control over your data, and from our tests, we think they have achieved it.
For more information on the Amber NAS visit: http://www.myamberlife.com
Kingston SDXC Flash Memory Cards & HyperX Gaming Products
We have been using Kingston memory cards for as long as we can remember. As a premier memory vendor they offer RAM for computers, specialized RAM for gamers, USB flash memory sticks, and camera memory cards in a variety of configurations. One of the most interesting products, with a decidedly unsexy use, is their Endurance Series. When I first saw them during the Siggraph 2019 Conference in Los Angeles, I through they might be a new card for extreme digital photography, but David Leong & Shealyn Johnson of Kingston explained that they were actually designed for security camera use. Security cameras have different use pattern then digital cameras, or video recording. They tend to have bursts of data writes, followed by long data writes for cameras that might have to record on a continual basis. The conditions for security cameras can range from below freezing, to the high temperatures of a desert in the summer. For those conditions, the Kingston High Endurance 64GB microSD SDXC Flash Memory Card High Performance, 1080P, Full HD, Up to 95MB/S Read, (SDCE/64GB) is the perfect choice. So, if you have surveillance cameras with the ability to write directly in the camera to microSD cards, or SD with an adapter, then the Kingston Endurance line would be our first choice. For digital photography, their Canvas React 100MB/s read, 80MB/s write/ UHS-I Speed Class 10 (U3) SD cards are a great choice. We also have to mention their new Nucleum card readers bring quick read and write speeds to USB-Type C, with the ability to read from SD, microSD, USB-Type C+Power-pass through, USB-Type A, HDMI, all at up to a speedy 5Gbps transfer speed. Lastly, mot to be overlooked is Kingston’s HyperX Gaming line of products designed for high-performance gaming. Curiously enough, we have been using their HyperX FURY S Pro Gaming Mouse Pad everywhere we travel. The CloudX Chat Headset and HyperX Cloud Alpha S Gaming Headset are snazzy as well, with the Alpha S headset adding surround sound for an immersive gaming environment. Check them out
For more information on Kingston memory products visit: https://www.kingston.com/us
For more information on Hyper X gaming products visit: https://www.hyperxgaming.com/us
Western Digital WD BLACK SN750 NVMe SSD, SanDisk Extreme PRO® SDHC™, G-Drive Mobile
Western Digital is well known as a storage industry behemoth, and their high performance WD BLACK SN750 NVMe SSD for gaming is one of their most popular products. Supported by the Gaming Mode in the WD BLACK SSD Dashboard, a free app that allows the user to control aspects of SSD performance, they are available in capacities ranging from 250GB to 2TB. They are rated at a read/write speed of 3,470/3,000MB/s, ranking up there with their competition, and in most cases surpassing them. They carry a 5-year warranty, representing solid value for consumers. The three brands now under the Western Digital umbrella are SanDisk, G-Drive, and WD, and they are where you find their consumer drives, external drives with either USB 3.1-Type C, Thunderbolt 3, or their well-respected line of SanDisk Extreme PRO® SDHC™ and SDXC™ UHS-I cards, in use by serious photographers around the world. We are especially impressed by the G-Drive Mobile series, and we worked with the 4TB model. With Type-C USB, and cables for Type-C to USB 3, they are backwards compatible, and solid as a rock. For hard-core users, their line of Thunderbolt 2 and 3 solutions is a serious choice for creative users. All come highly recommended.
For more information on WD Black SSD visit: https://www.westerndigital.com/products/internal-drives/wd-black-sn750-nvme-ssd
For more information on G-Drives visit: https://shop.westerndigital.com/g-technology
For information on SanDisk Extreme Pro Cards visit: https://shop.westerndigital.com/products/memory-cards/sandisk-extreme-pr...
Seagate IronWolf Pro & IronWolf NAS Hard Drives
We are fans of the Seagate IronWolf Pro & IronWolf NAS Hard Drives. We’ve reviewed several iterations of the IronWolf line, starting with the 8TB and 12TB models. Along the way they have had continual refinement, and increased capacity. The current line tops out at 16TB, allowing even a small 4 drive NAS tremendous capacity. We have performed long run tests of drives using the rigorous Certify procedure built into SoftRaid 5.8.1. SoftRaid’s Verify and Certify procedure involves letting the software write to each and every sector multiple times with a resulting report of errors. On a 12TB drive, the test can take anywhere from about a day, to over a week, if you increase the storage size, or the number of times the test is run. We have run these tests on every IronWolf drive we have received, and each time with the same result, 0 errors. The IronWolf Pro adds a 5-year warranty (the IronWolf carries a 3 year warranty), 2 years of Data Recovery Service, and is intended to support small and medium business, and creative pros in a NAS. All are solid choices to support your NAS needs, and they have been rock solid in our testing.
For more information on IronWolf Pro & IronWolf NAS Hard Drives visit: https://www.seagate.com/internal-hard-drives/hdd/ironwolf/#features
Wacom 16-inch Cintiq & Cintiq Pro 16 Pen Display Tablets
Few peripherals rewire your entire workflow, but a Cintiq Pen Display from Wacom does. Solid engineering, extraordinary support from industry, and sensitivity galore are present in all Wacom Cintiq Pen Displays. Less then a few years ago, a Cintiq was an expensive proposition, available only to industry professionals, institutions, and studios. Now, with the advent of the 16-inch Cintiq, it’s affordable to almost any serious artist, photographer, designer, or student. The Pro model brings more to the table in the form of a larger color gamut, more precision, lower lag time, and more. Both are powerful tools that will impact your productivity in a positive way. What surprised us wasn’t that it was a tablet; we have had long experience with Wacom Intuos Tablets, and so know how useful a tool they are in comparison to a mouse. What surprised us was that by working directly on an image, our perceptions of the image and process were subtly changed. With a mouse, you tend to work on an image in binary terms, either you perform and action or you don’t. But with the Cintiq, you can feel via the sensitivity of the pen, the image’s own internal dynamics so that you aren’t just removing a spot, you are approaching the spot as you would be a actual pencil, so your approach the challenge is immediate and more sublime. We haven’t reviewed it, but the new Wacom Cintiq Pro 24 looks like a killer if your budget is a bit more upscale. From the new entry level 16-inch Wacom Cintiq, the Wacom Cintiq Pro 16, and the new Wacom Cintiq Pro 24, all would be a welcome holiday addition!
For more information Wacom Cintiq Pen Displays, visit: https://www.wacom.com/en-us
Harris Fogel, Nancy Burlan, Jonathan Fogel, Frank Schramm, and Ken Kramar, Posted 12/6/2019