WD Re-Designs World's No. 1 Selling Portable Hard Drive

Western Digital (NASDAQ:WDC) company, and world leader in storage solutions, today introduced the new, redesigned My Passport® Ultra portable hard drives and My Passport for Mac drives. With the My Passport line now in its 7th generation, the My Passport Ultra and My Passport for Mac portable hard drives are now available in capacities up to 3 TB and in four stylish colours - Classic Black, Brilliant White, Wild Berry and Noble Blue. WD is also introducing a new optional accessory – WD Grip Pack – a soft band, available in a variety of colours, which encircles the drive, offering consumers an easy way to personalise their My Passport drives.

“With more photos being taken than ever before, it’s critical to have a high capacity, reliable external storage solution that you can carry everywhere,” said Tony Tate, general manager and vice president of Content Storage Solutions at WD. “The latest generation My Passport drives deliver an easier automatic back-up experience, hardware-based encryption for security and higher capacities than ever before. Consumers can keep all their content in their pockets, while expressing their personal styles with the colours and WD Grip Pack.”

My Passport Ultra portable drives come in 3 TB, 2 TB, 1 TB and 500 GB capacities and feature 256-bit AES hardware encryption – delivering a high level of security with no impact to write-speed or CPU activity. If your My Passport Ultra falls into the wrong hands, the 256-bit AES hardware encryption protects users’ files, folders, photos, videos and music with a password known only to them. USB 3.0 compatibility provides fast data transfer rates of up to 5 gigabits per second, while being backwardly compatible with USB 2.0. My Passport for Mac portable drives are available in capacities of 3 TB, 2 TB, 1 TB and also feature 256-bit AES hardware encryption with USB 3.0 connectivity.

Sold separately, the WD Grip Pack accessory for My Passport Ultra is available in five colours (smoke, slate, grape, sky and fuchsia) and, when wrapped around one of the four colours of My Passport Ultra drives, enables consumers to create a total of twenty possible colour combinations. The WD Grip Pack comes with a colour-matched 18-inch flat USB 3.0 cable, creating a stylish complete solution. 

My Passport Ultra’s built-in WD Backup software is a simple-to-use application with focus on reducing frustration when setting up a backup plan to preserve data. Since 31% of devices have had malware at some point, having your data safely backed up onto a secondary device like a My Passport drive is critical to preserving precious data.

Pricing and Availability

My Passport Ultra and My Passport for Mac portable drives are available today in the WD store at wdstore.co.uk  and at select retailers, including Amazon (My Passport Ultra: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00W8XXRPM, My Passport Ultra for Mac: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00WJOVDYM) and distributors. My Passport Ultra and My Passport for Mac have a Manufacturer’s Suggest Retail Price (MSRP) ranging from £59.99 up to £159.00 depending on capacity (3 TB capacity available next month). Both the My Passport Ultra and My Passport for Mac will offer a 3-year limited warranty. Terms and conditions of WD’s limited warranty may be found at support.wdc.com/warranty. WD Grip Pack accessories will be available in June and will have an MSRP of £9.99. 

1. 3 TB will be available next month
2. Colours only available on the My Passport Ultra 
3. Password must be set in order to use encryption.

Google Drive Pricing Reduced

With more and more data moving into the cloud we are seeing a bigger demand for affordable cloud storage. Google launched Drive just over two years ago with a competitive pricing model and has been a popular choice for storage ever since. One aspect of Google Drive that appeals to many is the deep integration with Google docs allowing you to easily create a document, spreadsheet or presentation, store it in Google’s cloud and easily share it with others using Google Drive.

Recently Google announced that it was slashing the prices of Google Drive to make it more affordable to everyone. Now you can get 100GB of storage for just $1.99 a month instead of $4.99. For those with much bigger requirements such as myself you can get a whopping 1TB of storage for just $9.99 which is insanely good value at just 1 cent per GB. When compared to competitor Dropbox which gives you 2GB free and a maximum of 100GB for $9.99 this is an extremely generous offer.

It’s likely in the coming weeks that we will see a retaliation from some of the other cloud storage providers who will likely reduce pricing in order to compete with Google’s new pricing structure. Whilst we are unlikely to see anything like the pricing offered by Google we should expect to see some action from other providers such as Dropbox, OneDrive, Amazon and Box.

You may be wondering what you would do with 1TB of storage from Google Drive? personally I use it as an extension of the memory on my iPhone. Sadly you can’t add any external storage on iPhone via SD card so I take advantage of Google’s generous 1TB offer and use it to expand the storage on my ageing 8GB iPhone 4 allowing me to store more photo’s, videos and documents than would normally be possible.

Have you taken advantage of the new pricing model for Google Drive? What do you primarily use cloud storage for? As usual we’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below.


Macronix plans to heat up flash memory to keep it from burning out

Despite the looming threat of being replaced by phase-change memory, contemporary memory modules aren't quite ready to be shown the door -- engineers at Macronix have found a way to revive spent NAND flash cells. Most flash modules fail after being written to and erased about 10,000 times, but Macronix found that the tired memory could be restored by baking it for extended periods of time. The team funneled the time consuming and cumbersome solution into a more practical package: a redesigned memory chip that packs onboard heaters. The new modules are designed to periodically heat focused groups of memory cells to 800 °C (1,472 °F) for a few milliseconds, effectively "healing" worn cells.

Researchers found that heated chips could tolerate more than 100 million write/erase cycles and erased faster at higher temperatures. The team said the power drain of the heaters shouldn't effect battery life, either -- chips don't have to be heated often, and when they do, it can be done while prospective devices are recharging. Macronix will be presenting the technology at the IEEE International Electron Devices Meeting next week, but project deputy director Hans-Ting Lue wouldn't say when the company plans on taking the technology to market. Luewas willing to speculate on what might become of it, however. "This may evolve into a 'thermally assisted' mode of operation that gives both better performance -- such as the faster erasing -- and better endurance flash memory." Faster, more reliable, super-heated memory. Sounds fine by us.

[Source: Engadget]

Western Digital boosts entire MyBook Studio line with USB 3.0, adds 4TB model to the mix

After bumping its Thunderbolt and regular MyBook line with a couple of extra terabytes, Western Digitalturned its attention to its shiny MyBook Studio offerings to kick those up a notch too. WD's family of premium aluminum-clad drives finally gets USB 3.0 across the line, along with a new top-of-the-pack 4TB capacity model. All the Studio drives feature WD Security, seamless integration with Time Machine and a 3-year limited warranty. Pricing for the 1TB, 2TB, 3TB and 4TB drives are $159.99, $189.99, $239.99 and $299.99 respectively. Western Digital says they'll continue to offer older USB 2.0 and FireWire 800 models, just in case you're still struggling along with a storage-starved relic from the past.

[Source: Engadget]

OWC certifies 480GB Mercury Aura Pro SSD for 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display

The inside of a MacBook Pro certainly isn't for the faint of heart, but if you're willing to pair your recklessness with a side of wild abandon, then you might just have what it takes to upgrade the storage of the Retina-equipped 13-inch model. OWC is more than willing to test your limits with its 480GB Mercury Aura Pro, an SSD module that's now certified for use with Apple's latest laptop. While its $580 price will deter many, the 480GB option compares favorably to the 512GB upgrade from Apple, which rings in at a healthy $800. OWC says that additional capacity sizes will be announced this November, which is reason to remain hopeful if this one has priced you out of the market.

[Source: Engadget]

Apple quietly bumping iCloud storage to 25 GB until the year 2050?

Twitter user @mgleet tipped me off that Apple appears to have bumped his iCloud storage plan to 25 GBs until the year 2050. Multiple people here at TUAW are seeing the same plan bumps, though none of us has upgraded our plans, not to mention paid 38 years in advance.

Apple has been known to offer cloud storage upgrades for free in the past when their online services didn't live up to expectations (MobileMe). Could this be a way Apple is apologizing for the Maps debacle?

To check to see what your storage plan is, go to Settings>iCloud>Account on your iOS device. Free 20GB storage upgrades for previous MobileMe members are set to expire today, but currently a bunch of us are seeing that those plans are now set to expire September 30, 2050.

It's possible this could be a bug on Apple's end as they transition MobileMe members down from the 25 GB plan to the 5 GB plan, though it's October 1st in New Zealand and one of our writers there is reporting he's still on the free 25 GB plan, which should have ended at 11:59PM September 30 New Zealand time. We'll keep you updated as soon as we hear more information.

[Source: TUAW]

Permanent quartz glass data storage announced by Hitachi, could hit market by 2015

Sure, we can store huge quantities of bits in a tiny space, but how long will that data last? Current optical, magnetic and flash storage media have limited shelf lives, so Hitachi has announced a new way of locking up ones and zeros in quartz glass for hundreds of millions of years. The data can be etched with a laser in three layers on the crystals at a density slightly higher than a CD, then read out with an optical microscope, meaning that future generations could restore the info without needing a proprietary drive. The technology could come to market in three years, according to the research lab -- but would likely be targeted at companies first, who would need to send in their data to be encoded. Hitachi said the media withstood two hours of 3500 degree Fahrenheit temperatures in testing without data loss, meaning that archaeologists from the future may one day uncover your questionable taste.

[Source: Engadget]

D-Link Cloud Storage 4000 NAS stores up 16TB, hooks up to your smartphone and tablet

D-Link's latest storage solution is pitched at small business and households looking to escape into the world of cloud storage. There's four SATA bays, each of which can carry up to 4TB, with D-Link adding in compatibility with its own cloud cameras (for network video recording) plus connectivity to Android, iOS, BlackBerry and Windows Phone devices. Remote access from your phone or tablet is possible through either the dedicated app or D-Link's portal website. There's also a pair of ethernet jacks on the back, for full-speed file transfer and back-up. The Cloud Storage 4000 is priced up at $450 and includes an DLNA server which will hook-up with D-Link's own BoxeeBox, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 -- storage buffs can even setup automatic email and SMS event notifications. Read up on the finer details in the press release below.

[Source: Engadget]

Crucial outs v4 SSD for solid-state storage on a budget

Solid-state drives cost just a fraction of what they did a few years ago, but with prices that can still exceed $1,000, you could hardly label them as cheap. Crucial still aims to put solid-state storage within reach of those on a budget, however, releasing its 2.5-inch v4 drive with pricing that starts at $50. That entry-level model will net you just 32 gigs of storage -- hardly a lust-worthy sum -- but the series is also available in configurations of 64GB ($70), 128GB ($100) and 256GB ($190), offering read speeds of up to 230 MB/s and write speeds of up to 190 MB/s with SATA 2-capable desktops and laptops. The v4 joins Crucial's higher-end m4, which offers much speedier performance and Ultrabook-friendly configurations to boot. You'll find full details in the PR after the break.

[Source: Engadget]

Drobo 5D & Drobo Mini Launched with Thunderbolt Goodness

Drobo, maker of award-winning data storage products for businesses and professionals, today announced a wide range of industry-firsts with innovations in a new generation of storage devices for personal and professional users.  The Drobo 5D and Drobo Mini – the world’s smallest and most portable full-featured storage array - are designed to accelerate workflows for creative professionals managing data-intensive files; home media enthusiasts looking to consolidate and accelerate video, photo, and music files; and small businesses that need fast, portable backup to protect large amounts of data. Drobo, widely recognized as the maker of the easiest-to-use storage device, has added advanced performance to the new systems with Thunderbolt, USB 3.0, automated SSD acceleration and greatly enhanced hardware and software architectures. 
“In my 30 years covering the technology industry, I have not seen something as portable, scalable and powerful as the Drobo Mini,” said Rob Enderle, principal analyst for The Enderle Group. “The SMB and prosumer market is clamoring for a plug-and-play storage product because it lacks the technical expertise and resources to manage complex storage systems.  With the new Drobo products, there is no question that this enigma is solved.”   


New Era of Performance and Flexibility
Both the Drobo 5D and Drobo Mini include industry-first SSD acceleration – utilizing the performance benefits of solid state drives (SSDs) and the capacity benefits of hard disk drives (HDDs) to deliver an automated, no-compromise system.  In addition to supporting SSDs in any of their drive bays, both units include an additional bay that will accommodate a small-form-factor SSD to achieve significant performance boosts while making all drive bays available for high-capacity HDDs.  


The products also support both lightning-fast Thunderbolt (2 ports) and USB 3.0 connectivity, an industry first for storage arrays, that will provide flexibility to both Mac and Windows users.  The two Thunderbolt ports allow customers to easily daisy-chain devices to accommodate massive growth, and the USB 3.0 port ensures compatibility to millions of USB systems. 


Along with SSD acceleration and Thunderbolt / USB 3.0 interfaces, the new Drobo products have been completely redesigned from the ground up with new hardware and software architectures. These enhancements provide a significant increase in processing capability and several optimizations to BeyondRAID™ that will increase baseline performance by at least five times – prior to the addition of SSDs – easily making the new Drobo 5D and Drobo Mini the fastest storage arrays in their class.


Save and Protect
All Drobos are based on patented BeyondRAID technology, which automates sophisticated data-protection algorithms so users can enjoy the peace-of-mind of safe data protection without having to be a storage expert. The new Drobo arrays add an advanced safety feature that also protects user data during and after power outages, another industry-first for professional storage and a feature that has traditionally been reserved for more expensive, enterprise-grade storage.  
“Our customers love Drobo’s ease of use, but they want it all – the easiest, the fastest, the safest for their data, plus the smallest and quietest,” said Tom Buiocchi, Drobo CEO.  “That’s why we're here – our new Drobos will deliver on our promise of the best storage experience ever.”


Drobo 5D: Capacity and Speed with No Compromise
The Drobo 5D is the most modern and complete storage system for creative professionals including photographers, videographers, graphic designers and individuals creating and working with large amounts of rich media. In particular, professionals who are power users of Adobe and Apple applications including After Effects, Aperture, Final Cut Pro, Lightroom, Photoshop and Premier Pro are a great fit for the new product, which is ideal for editing, storing catalogs and backing up files of all types. 
With up to five drives with an additional SSD bay, the 5D can support up to 16 terabytes of protected, SSD-accelerated data.  This is the equivalent of 32 million photographs, 4 million songs, 1 million HD movies, or 48 hours of uncompressed HD video – all accessible through lightning-fast Thunderbolt or USB 3.0 interfaces.


Drobo Mini: The Smallest, Most Powerful Storage Array
Drobo Mini is a technical marvel that redefines personal, professional, and portable digital storage.  It combines a unique blend of the most advanced storage technologies with unrivaled ease-of-use, all in a sleek, world’s-smallest package, measuring seven inches square by less than two inches tall and weighing less than three pounds.  Drobo invented a patent-pending “carrierless” design, which allows up to four 2.5” drives to be easily inserted into a Drobo Mini without the need for any additional drive carriers or screws. The benefit to the customer is not only the ease of drive insertion and removal, but also flexibility; because the design accommodates a common industry drive size, customers are free to choose the drive vendor, type (HDD or SSD), capacity, speed and price that best meets their needs. 
Since the Drobo Mini is portable, it features a ruggedized design that allows users to transport it with drives inside. In addition to being the first Drobo to offer this capability, the Drobo Mini features a custom miniature power supply and an optional carrying case, making it the ideal storage for professionals who travel extensively.
“I will shoot thousands of images per day at the Olympics, and having fast, protected storage is critical to my workflow,” said Jeff Cable, one of the few photographers representing Team USA at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. “The new Drobo Mini provides Thunderbolt performance and RAID protection in a compact package that is not much larger than a single external drive. I can’t wait to get my hands on one.”


Additional Resources
Visit www.drobo.com/5D or www.drobo.com/mini to learn more about the new products. Ordering and availability information will be announced in July.  Pricing – including a Thunderbolt cable – is expected to start at under $650.

Here at Geekanoids we are super excited about these new products, expect to see reviews on the Geekanoids Channel in due course.