LG BD550 Blu-Ray Disc Player

June 25, 2011 Leave a comment

I’ve been saving up to get a new player to replace my Philips DVD drive – I play a lot of DivX movies, and the Philips was struggling to cope with the higher resolutions. Also, it struggled with any scene involving fire, water, shooting – anything fast-motion really – would result in choppy rendering and stuttering audio.

So there’s two things I really want from a hi-def player, MKV support and DivX HD playback. Smooth playback.

I was thinking of replacing it with a media player system or a Blu-Ray Player.
The Asus O!Play HD2 is around £80 and the Patriot Box Office about £60 at the time of review, Amazon has the LG BD550 for £65.

Asus O!Play HD2

Asus O!Play HD2 - Front & Rear

Asus O!Play HD2 - HDD Installation

The Asus O!Play HD2 supports USB3, if you have very large files to transfer to it.

Video – HDMI 1.3, Component RGB  and Composite S-Video.

Audio – L and R audio, Optical and Coaxial out.

Input – Ethernet & USB 3 to the rear and support for CF, SD, MMC, MS, MS Duo, eSATA and USB 2 at the front.

Extras – DLNA, Upgrade storage with internal 3.5″ HDD, can be a Samba Server or NAS box, Bit Torrent client. Supports Internet accessible content.

 

Patriot Box Office

coming soon..

The LG BD550

LG BD550 Blu-Ray Disc Player

Video – HDMI, RGB  and S-Video.

Audio – L and R audio and Coaxial out.

Input – 10/100 Ethernet rear and USB 2 on front.

Extras – Bonus View, BD Live, DivX HD, MKV, AVCHD, NTFS USB Playback.

LG BD550 Rear Ports

Bonus View and BD-J

All modern BluRay players must support Bonus View, which is a Java based environment that supports the on disc menus and interactive material.
You can find out more about BD-J here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BD-J

BD Live

BD Live is the term used when interactive material is sourced from the internet. There are privacy issues surrounding BD Live as a connection to an authorisation server reveals Personally Identifiable Information.

A quick Google search reveals many Terms Of Service, including Warner Bros http://wblive.warnerbros.com/privacy/privacy_en_gb.html#personal

When you access Warner Bros. BD-Live content through one of our services, we collect statistics concerning downloaded and viewed trailers, referrals, chats, other interactions with BD-Live content, as well as certain diagnostic information related to your BD-Live players display and ability to deliver services.

or CBS http://cbs-bdlive.com/privacy-policy

In addition, we may collect your IP address or some other unique identifier for the particular device you use to access the Internet, as applicable (collectively referred to as a “Device Identifier”). A Device Identifier is a number that is automatically assigned to your computer, your Blu-Ray player, or other device used to access the Internet, and our computers identify your device by its Device Identifier.

Making Choices

There are not a lot of players that explicitly say ‘Supports MKV’ or ‘DivX HD playback’ but after reading around, a few reviews listed these as supported formats and I was happy when the player arrived that it had the MKV and DivX HD logo on the top.

AVCHD, MKV and DivX HD Supported

Conclusion

My next step was to put an MKV on my NTFS external drive and see if this player was as fast and as smooth as I hoped.. And I wasn’t disappointed.
A 6Gb MKV loaded in seconds, with very smooth playback and amazing video quality.

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Adobe Reader X – 10.1 Update Fixes Sym Link Bugs

June 25, 2011 Leave a comment

Adobe Reader X aims to solve many of the serious security flaws found in older versions of Reader by implementing ‘Protected Mode‘, a type of sandboxing. This is a serious attempt by Adobe to stop malware authors exploiting their software.

The first version of Abobe Reader 10 recreated an old bug, evident in the 9 release, where it failed to load on systems with remote or roaming profiles.

mklink C:Users /J D:Users

There is a patch pushed through the new update mechanism to version 10.0.1 which Adobe claim contains ‘Numerous security fixes as well as improvements to Protected Mode..’ However, the cause of the fault is now acknowledged in the Protected Mode Troubleshooting guide –

Launching Reader 10.0  via a user profile that has been moved to a different drive using a symbolic link; that is, profiles that have been copied from one drive to another cannot use Reader with Protected Mode enabled.

This is now resolved in a new 10.1 update, available from filehippo.com or Adobe directly.


Adobe Reader X - 10.1 Update

100Gb Core by CnM – Portable HDD Review

100Gb Core by CnM External USB 2 HDD

I am looking to replace my USB flash drive with something with more capacity and speed, so I thought a small external hard drive would be great, and the Core by CnM 100Gb drive for only £22 compares very well against the Sandisk Cruzer Edge 8gb flash drive I just paid £12 for.

              Drive Name :  Size  : Cost : £ Per GB
     Sandisk Cruzer Edge -    8Gb - £12  - £1.50
             Core by CnM -  100Gb - £22  - £0.22
     Verbatim Store N Go -  500Gb - £40  - £0.08
     Samsung S2 Portable - 1000Gb - £69  - £0.07

Value For Money

So we already know that this drive is about 7 times cheaper per gigabyte than the USB flash drive from Cruzer, and from past experience, all external USB hard drives really are just a laptop drive in a shiny plastic shell.

I tried to find a 100Gb  2.5″ drive for under £22 and had no luck, the smaller capacity drives are inordinately expensive, so I began to wonder what was in the box…

Disassembly

The drive was relatively easy to open, I applied pressure to the shiny Core top, in the direction indicated in the image below, the bottom edge seems to be the least secure and it popped open. I have highlighted the location of all the clips for you.

The Hard Drive

Inside the box is a REFURBISHED Hitachi Travelstar HTS721010G9SA00 – SATA 150, 8Mb cache, 7200 RPM.

The drive is not secured into the caddy with any screws, there are only 2 damping strips and the cabling for the LED to prevent the drive inside from moving.

It is connected via a SATA to USB board.

SATA to USB connector

Performance

I don’t find it noisy in operation, this is obviously subjective, it clicks and clatters a bit during file transfer, but nothing I find annoying.

Performance is limited by the USB 2.0 spec, it maxed out around the 32MB/sec transfer limit, my system allocates 20% to system overhead.

Check what overhead your system reserves  –

  • Open Device Manager – Right click on My Computer and select Manage or  run devmgmt.msc
  • Find Universal Serial Bus Controllers, and click the plus sign
  • Locate one of the “USB Enhanced Host Controller” entries
  • Right Click and select Properties
  • Click onto the Advanced tab

USB Enhanced Host Controller - 20% Overhead

I used HDTune to run a benchmark on the drive, you can download a copy from http://www.hdtune.com/download.html – the free version only tests read speed.

HDTune 2.55 Read Speed

Conclusion

I’m using this drive with a blu-ray blayer to stream HD content. It takes a while to fill the drive with large files, write transfer speeds are slow compared to my raid array, but much faster than any USB flash drive I own.
My computer supports USB 3.0 but I felt the additional cost of a USB 3.0 external drive isn’t worth it yet, especially as the player is still only USB 2.0 capable.
The price per GB is very attractive for a portable drive, I would recommend the Core by CnM drives if you want a cheap portable solution.

Alternatives? The USB 3.0 Verbatim Store n Go 500GB almost got my money, shop around.

Sandisk Cruzer Edge – Flash Drive Review

April 18, 2011 19 comments

There are several flash drives available in the Cruzer range, the Micro, the Slice and then the Blade. Now meet Edge, the latest addition to the line up.

First Impressions

The Edge feels plasticy and very light when first released from it’s blister pack. There is, however, a very nice solidity as you open and retract the USB connector.
I don’t think this will easily pop out in a pocket or if it’s dropped.

On inserting the Flash Drive into the USB port, i found you really needed to keep you thumb firmly in place to stop the connector retracting, and this was made more difficult by the nature of it’s small size when there were other drives or cables in the adjacent slot. I found it awkward to keep the connector fully extended during insertion, and I had the very same issue with the Cruzer Micro.

Gallery

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Free Space

On insertion, Windows detects the drive at 7.45GB capacity.. A device advertised at 8GB is actually 8billion bytes or 8,000,000,000 bytes.
Divide this by 1024 to get the number of Kilobytes, divide again for Megabytes, and again for a Gigabytes.. 7.45

7.38GB Free Space

Add on the file system overhead, and useable capacity is 7.38GB.

Speed

First testing shows the Edge has a slow write speed, but with a faster Read speed.

Our first test is CheckFlash 1.16 in Logical Drive more, this is an operating system independent test that writes directly to the flash drive.

CheckFlash - Logical Drive Test

Second test, with CheckFlash again is Temporary

CheckFlash 1.16 - Temporary File Test

Results

Test Program - Read MB/sec - Write MB/sec
Check Flash Logical    - 18.45       - 4.70
Check Flash Temporary  - 18.50       - 4.52

Average Read & Write - 18.48 - 4.61

Compare this to the Cruzer Blade review, and there is only a marginal decrease in Write speed, (Blade 5MB/sec average,) and the Read speed has increased by about 2MB/sec.

Flash Player 10.3 Beta 2

April 12, 2011 Leave a comment

Flash Player has been updated to version 10.3 beta 2, (minor build v 180.65,) for 32bit browsers.

Check which version of the plug-in you have installed, and see which is the latest build for your OS / browser.

FileHippo.com

Click to download the latest IE ActiveX plugin, or you might want to download the plugin for Firefox.
I love full direct downloads, perfect for storing on a memory stick. Get your updates for IE or Firefox quickly with these direct download links from FileHippo.com – On the right hand side, just click the green arrow or the Download Latest Version text..

FileHippo.com Download

Add to favourites for future use; the page content updates, but the URL stays the same, so you can quickly find the updates you need..

64 bit Browsers

If you run a 64 bit Firefox Nightly build or the custom 64 bit Namoroka or IE9 x64, Adobe recommend you Download Flash Player 'Square'Download Flash Player “Square” because they still don’t support 64bit browsers.

It’s important to note that you must download the uninstaller too, there is a separate link to it from the download page.
You will need to un-install this preview version manually before you can update to a newer version.

Firefox 4 Beta 12

February 26, 2011 Leave a comment

Click for Firefox 4 Beta site

The Beta 12 of Firefox 4 is now officially available, click the image above or visit the firefox beta site to get it.

Categories: Firefox, Internet Tags:

Firefox 4 beta 13 pre available on Nightly.. Or Not.

February 24, 2011 Leave a comment

The official Firefox 4 beta offering is still at beta 11, but head on over to the nightly build.. and it’s showing as beta 13 pre – so does this mean beta 12 is done, and will be available soon?

Firefox Beta 13 pre on Nightly Build..

Yes and No.. Remember, there is no fixed schedule for the release of Beta 12..
In an statement on the Google group Mozilla.Dev.Planning, Christian Legnitto, Firefox Release Manager, says beta 13 is a versioning bug..

No Beta 13..