Universal Serial Bus Stories June 29, 2015

branch-macbook-hub

Ever since Apple launched the single-port 12-inch MacBook, we’ve seen a flurry of companies offering to add the missing ports back in through various adapters, hubsdocks and more. Latest to the party is Branch, a Kickstarter project whose USP is its ‘form-fitted’ shape, which is naturally available in each of the three MacBook colors.

The emphasis here is on packing the essentials into an extremely portable unit, providing USB-C pass-through, two USB 3.0 ports and one Mini Display port capable of driving a 4K monitor. The company had originally pitched with HDMI (shown above), but said that it has switched to Mini DisplayPort following feedback from Kickstarter users …  expand full story

Universal Serial Bus Stories June 9, 2015

owc-macbook-desktop-dock

The 12-inch MacBook is the ultimate portable Mac, but that single USB-C port feels a lot less convenient when you want to connect to a bunch of devices at home or in the office. We covered a $79 portable hub yesterday, and now OWC has announced its $129 desktop model, available for pre-order today for delivery in October.

Available in silver, space gray and gold, to match your MacBook, the OWC USB-C Dock provides a total of 10 ports in a unit designed to remain on your desk, allowing you to instantly connect and disconnect via a single USB-C cable …  expand full story

Universal Serial Bus Stories June 8, 2015

Hub+ Kickstarter project providing neat hub solution for 12-inch MacBook owners hits $670k

A neat hub designed to provide 12-inch MacBook owners with a useful way to connect existing devices has just hit $670k on Kickstarter – somewhat in excess of its modest $35,000 goal.

The Hub+ plugs into the single USB-C port of the MacBook and turns that into two USB-C ports, 3 conventional USB-A sockets, a mini DisplayPort and an SDXC card slot. The sleek device offers a choice of silver, space gray and gold to match your MacBook … 

Universal Serial Bus Stories June 2, 2015

usb-c-thunderbolt-3

The USB-C port first introduced by Apple in the new 12-inch MacBook looks likely to be used across the MacBook range as Intel has adopted the standard for Thunderbolt 3.

Thunderbolt was developed to simultaneously support the fastest data and most video bandwidth available on a single cable, while also supplying power. Then recently the USB group introduced the USB-C connector, which is small, reversible, fast, supplies power, and allows other I/O in addition to USB to run on it, maximizing its potential. So in the biggest advancement since its inception, Thunderbolt 3 brings Thunderbolt to USB-C at 40Gbps, fulfilling its promise, creating one compact port that does it all. 

Apple was an early adopter of the Thunderbolt standard, which allowed a single port to be used for both high-speed data transfer and DisplayPort monitor connections. Intel’s integration of the two standards would allow Apple to replace the Thunderbolt port in the MacBook Pro range while still maintaining full compatibility with existing peripherals …  expand full story

Universal Serial Bus Stories April 16, 2015

infiniteusb-c

The radical approach taken by Apple in equipping the new 12-inch MacBook with just a single port for both power and connectivity makes the machine extremely sleek, but somewhat problematic to use when you want to connect multiple devices. Two Kickstarter projects aim to solve that.

First, InfiniteUSB, which already provides stackable cables for standard USB ports, has launched a USB-C version called, unsurprisingly, InfiniteUSB-C. Each cable has a combined USB-C plug and socket at one end, enabling you to piggy-back as many as you need, and either a Lightning, Micro USB or USB socket on the other end …  expand full story

Universal Serial Bus Stories March 10, 2015

Lightning USB-C

Lightning vs. <a href="http://www.amazon.com/Aukey-Hi-speed-Reversible-Connector-Supported/dp/B00RGNJXD4/ref=sr_1_1?amp;amp;qid=1421386415&amp;amp;sr=8-1&tag=thepartim-20&ie=UTF8&amp;amp;peasin=B00RGNJXD4&amp;amp;keywords=B00RGNJXD4&amp;amp;pebp=1421386732649">USB-C cable from Aukey</a>

We’ve been poring over Apple’s change to the 8.4mm by 2.6mm USB Type C standard since we got tipped the design of the new MacBook late last year. It is a big change for Apple and puts the future of longstanding technologies like Thunderbolt and MagSafe into questionable status.  Even Lightning seems a whole lot more vulnerable when an adapter that is marginally bigger, but has the whole industry behind it, shows up in Apple’s future flagship laptop.

Some quick, fun facts on USB Type C that make it pretty amazing: expand full story

Universal Serial Bus Stories February 26, 2015

Mini review: Lightning Rabbit Triforce USB charger – cute & fast

It seems pretty much every gadget in the world these days–from phones to bicycle lights–is charged via USB, so you can never have too many USB charging points in your home.

The Lightning Rabbit Triforce is a simple device with two goals: to charge your devices quickly, and to look cute (if quirky) while doing so.

At the rear, there’s just a figure-of-8 power socket (with a supplied power cable). At the front, there are four USB sockets, all of them delivering the same 2.4A power as an Apple iPad charger, ensuring that devices are charged as quickly as possible.

For lower-powered devices, there is no harm in having the extra power available–power draw is determined by the device itself, the charger just delivering whatever is requested.

I’ve been using it to charge a variety of gadgets over the past week or so, all of them charging as quickly as with their supplied chargers but with a lot less clutter and a far prettier box. At its official price of $60, you’re paying a pretty steep premium for that cute design, but it’s worth bearing in mind that most multi-port USB chargers give you one 2.4A port at most.

At the Amazon price of $47.79, it’s still not cheap, but if you have more than one power-hungry device, and share my love of the design, you may well find it worth the outlay. If wood is more your thing, check out the Truffol Station 5 charger instead.

The White Lightning Triforce 48W 4-port USB charger is available from the company’s Amazon store for $47.79.

Universal Serial Bus Stories January 19, 2015

charger-1

We all have a ton of gadgets these days that are charged by USB, from iPhones and iPads to things as diverse as cameras, scanners and GPS units. The challenge can be finding enough USB ports to keep up, which is why I resort to a powered USB hub. It’s plastic and not exactly pretty, hence my interest in a rather beautiful-looking product from Truffol–the company behind the reversible USB cable we looked at last year.

The Truffol Station 5 is not a USB hub: there’s no socket to connect it to a Mac. It’s designed for one purpose only, and that’s to charge up to five USB devices at once. It differs from most other such devices in two ways: form and function …  expand full story

Universal Serial Bus Stories January 8, 2015

16042765840_466aa921f5_b

Earlier this week, we published an extensive report detailing the upcoming 12-inch MacBook Air with a thinner design, tweaked keyboard, enhanced trackpad, and an improved speaker system. Now, based on our report, designer Martin Hajek has put together some 3D image models of the upcoming computer. Check out the full gallery (click images for larger) below, and don’t miss our initial report with Michael Steeber‘s original mockup work.

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Universal Serial Bus Stories November 9, 2014

bobine

There are a lot of options for mounting your iPhone in your car. I’ve relied on the highly-rated Kensington suction cup windshield car mount for a few years without too much incident. However, I’ve never been too pleased about how it blocks a bit of my driving view and requires a non-elegant wire to go up my dashboard.

Today I’m looking at the Fuse Chicken Une Bobine (pictured above) and MONTAR by WinnerGearexpand full story

Universal Serial Bus Stories October 3, 2014

iStick-Hyper-01

While most of my content goes straight to the cloud these days and is usually easily accessible to move around, download or stream from any of my devices, I still found myself getting a lot of use out of Hyper’s new iStick. It’s one of the first made-for-iPhone USB flash drives that also includes an integrated Lightning connector to easily transfer content to and from the device to others. Hyper’s companion app is what makes the experience more than just storage, however… expand full story

Universal Serial Bus Stories September 23, 2014

Screenshot 2014-09-23 11.50.34

Some iPhone 6 owners have found that Apple’s latest and greatest phone comes with an unexpected (but patented!) new feature: flexibility. According to reports, the iPhone 6 is slightly bending beyond repair while in pockets. Some users say that the bending occurred after normal sitting, while other people have had more active lifestyles. Unfortunately, it does not appear that Apple will replace these more fragile-than-expected units at no cost. Some users are reporting that replacement costs are in the hundreds of dollars range. Additional bending pictures below:

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Charge your iPhone 6/Plus twice as quick with these 2.1A USB Car/Chargers/Batteries/Surge protectors

Yesterday, it was revealed that the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus could be charged faster (in some cases as fast as 2 hours to full) using a 2.1A AC charger like the one that comes with the iPad. Curiously, Apple has only included the same 5W 1A iPhone charger that it traditionally has with its iPhone 6 and 6 Plus meaning that your iPhone charge times coming from much smaller iPhones are going to go through the roof.

Not to worry! The 9to5Toys team will get you updated to 2.1A USB ports across the board with the best gear/deals we could find for a wide range of 2.1A USB needs…

 

The no fuss move is to just get a 12W Apple iPad AC adapter (above). They are at Amazon for $19 Prime shipped. You can’t go wrong appearance and reliability-wise there but perhaps your $20 can be better spent?

Anker makes a product we love called the Anker® 25W 5-Port Desktop USB Charger with PowerIQ™ Technology which sells for $15.99 Prime shipped. That will charge your iPhone 6/Plus fast but gives you 4 more USB outlets and 13 more watts for charging other devices (Tablets, Androids, Cameras, Batteries and more). If you want to step up to a 40W model, you are only at $21.99 Prime shipped. That’s only a few bucks more than Apple’s 1-port option.

Speaking of batteries…

You can also upgrade your external USB batteries with a 2.1 A version that will charge your iPhone faster. A best best is the $20 Omaker Brilliant 10000mAh(2.1Amp+2.1Amp Output) Dual USB Portable Charger External Battery Pack Power bank with 1W Flashlight. I have one of these and it works well all around and feels well made (OK the flashlight isn’t the brightest). It charges via included MicroUSB cable and has DUAL 2.1A outputs for iPhones iPads and anything else you want to throw at it (expect at least 3-4 full iPhone charges). I also favorably reviewed the Lumsing Harmonica ($20) and huge RavPower Xtreme 23000mAh which might be better options depending on your needs.

Want popular brand immediately? Head over to your local Best Buy and grab a Mophie 4000mAh Juice Pack. The Product (Red) version is half price at $39.99 shipped or for pickup.

Don’t forget your car. Typical car USB ports and chargers are only 1A. Step up to more with PowerGen 2×2.4A Charger for $8.99 Prime Shipped. That will provide plenty of juice for 2 iPhone 6s or even add a Tablet instead. Need moar portz!? We LOVE this Omaker 3-port 26W Car charger (pictured above) in all of your favorite iPhone colors (at once) for just $9.99 with free Prime shipping.

You are also going to need an AC travel charger too, right? We love Belkin’s SurgePlus dual 2.1A Travel Charger (we won’t tell if you use this at home all the time too) for $19.99 shipped. Grab a 6 outlet dual 2.1A Belkin version for $22.87 . Monoprice has a similar 3 outlet option for only $13.50 with some shipping.

However, if you just want to charge at 2.1A and get out as cheap as possible, jump on the MonoPrice 2.1A AC wall charger for $5.73 plus a few bucks for shipping.

Apple shipping a slow charger for the iPhone 6 is a mystery but solving it is easy and very inexpensive if you know where to look. Follow 9to5toys.com for all the best gear and deals.

Lead image source

Universal Serial Bus Stories September 17, 2014

In all of the hoopla over the new iPhone 6/Plus, T-Mobile in the US and EE in the UK got themselves a pretty big exclusive (for now). T-Mobile has been offering Wifi calling for years but it’s recently come to the iPhone – and with the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, gets even better with cell/wifi handover. (T-Mobile partnered with Gogo to enable texting and voicemails on participating airline journeys as well).

Wifi calling, for some, may be the type of feature that makes or breaks a carrier relationship. With it, you can make calls anywhere there is a wifi signal. That means basements, country homes and even foreign countries are all now open to making and receiving calls from your carrier phone number… expand full story

Universal Serial Bus Stories August 27, 2014

Apple seeds OS X Mavericks 10.9.5 build 13F24 to developers

Apple has released yet another beta build of the upcoming OS X Mavericks 10.9.5 update. The current build number on today’s release is 13F24, while the previously build released to developers for testing came in at 13F18. Apple continues to ask developers to test USB, USB Smart Cards, Safari, Graphics, and Thunderbolt integration with 10.9.5. The update is available for developers running the previous 10.9.5 seed via Software Update in the Mac App Store.

Universal Serial Bus Stories August 26, 2014

Home security cameras that send you alerts when they detect movement have been around for a while now. We reviewed Dropcam, one of the better-known names in the business, last October.

The problem, though, is that most movement isn’t likely to be of interest – especially if you have pets or are susceptible to changes in nature from sunlight/wind. What we really want to know is when a person arrives, and that’s what Simplicam aims to deliver through face-detection software. You can thus choose to be notified about any one or more of three types of event: movement, sound and face-detection …  expand full story

Universal Serial Bus Stories August 24, 2014

Screen-Shot-2014-08-25-at-3.04.20-AM.png

We’ve seen hundreds of iPhone 6-related part leaks, rumors, and claims, and of course lots of comparison photos. Below, via Yaya888 and Gizmobic, we have the latest. These shots compare the iPhone 5 to the space gray 4.7-inch physical iPhone 6 model. The new phone is expected to be introduced on September 9th.

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Universal Serial Bus Stories August 18, 2014

We raised the possibility yesterday of the iPhone 6 including a redesigned USB to Lightning cable that allows the USB end of the cord to be inserted into a USB port in either direction. In other words, like the Lightning connector, the next Apple USB cable could be reversible. Leaks of the purported cables have been flowing quickly out of Asia-based areas surrounding the Apple supply chain, and now Sonny Dickson has shared a video of the cable in action. While the video does not show the iPhone actually syncing with the new USB cord, the video does show the cable being inserted in both directions into a standard USB port. This lines up with a recent Apple patent, which is for a USB connector that can be inserted in either direction into currently existing USB hubs.

You can watch the videos and see the new photo below:

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Universal Serial Bus Stories August 17, 2014

Reversible USB

The iPhone 6’s packaging might not only include a redesigned smartphone, but a redesigned USB to Lightning cable. While it’s unlikely that Apple will yet-again change the Lightning port introduced with the 2012 iPhone 5 anytime in the near future, a redesigned version of the USB plug could be ready for this fall. Sketchy photos of a reversible USB cable first surfaced on the web last week, and Sonny Dickson yesterday shared another shot of the cables via Twitter.

Like the Lightning connector, the benefit of a reversible USB connector is that it can be inserted into a USB port in either direction. This makes it easier to insert the connector in darkly lit or hard to reach places (like behind a desk). Due to uncertain sourcing, the first batch of photos did not seem completely believable, but digging a little deeper into the situation reveals that Apple readying a reversible USB iPhone cable is a real possibility…

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Universal Serial Bus Stories August 8, 2014

IMG_1861

Although we’ve covered the gamut of portable Bluetooth speakers here at 9to5Mac, we typically recommend higher-end products like the Bose Soundlink Mini ($199), JBL Charge ($138) or Ultimate Ears Mini/Boom ($80/$179). It’s usually not worth cheaping out on Bluetooth speakers (unless you are looking for niche products like wearables) because the sound quality degrades heavily once you drop below the top tier. Lumsing-Prophet-review Sadly, today’s entrant into the Bluetooth speaker cage-match lot isn’t going to compete with any of the $100+speakers above. But I have to say, the Lumsing Prophet isn’t bad at all, especially if you aren’t listening to bass-heavy tracks. And, the freaky part is it only costs $20 bucks after coupon code PROPHET0 (expires 8/13) at Amazon which makes it an absolute steal… expand full story

Universal Serial Bus Stories July 31, 2014

Security researchers say USB security ‘broken,’ can take over Macs or PCs

The USB standard has a fundamental security flaw that allows an attacker to take over any device it is connected to, whether PC or Mac, say security researchers in a frightening piece by Wired.

Describing the proof-of-concept Karsten Nohl and Jakob Lell plan to present at the Black Hat conference next week, they say the weakness is fundamental to the way in which USB works. Rather than storing malicious files on a USB device, the researchers managed to hack the USB controller chip that enables a USB device to communicate with a computer, changing its firmware. That means it can allow absolutely any USB device, from a USB key to a keyboard, to be compromised.

“These problems can’t be patched,” says Nohl, who will join Lell in presenting the research at the Black Hat security conference in Las Vegas. “We’re exploiting the very way that USB is designed.”

“You can give it to your IT security people, they scan it, delete some files, and give it back to you telling you it’s clean, [but] the cleaning process doesn’t even touch the files we’re talking about.”

Unlike most malware, which targets Windows, this exploit allows any USB device to emulate a keyboard or mouse, taking complete control of both PCs and Macs.

As it’s undetectable, the exploit could be silently added to a USB key when it is inserted into a PC, and then infect the next device it’s connected to. There is, say the researchers, no protection at all against the method of attack short of never sharing USB devices – treating them as you’d treat a hypodermic needle: only ever using one you know to be brand new, and not dreaming of allowing anyone else to share it.

Universal Serial Bus Stories March 23, 2014

kanex-simpledock

We’ve reviewed a fair bit of Thunderbolt docks for Mac here and one thing remains constant: The starting prices range well over $200 (Belkin’s a deal at $150) and that’s before you buy an expensive $30 Thunderbolt cable. The question is: Do you really need Thunderbolt to have a quality/usable dock for your MacBook? Can you get almost all of what you need just from USB 3?

Kanex sent me their $90 USB 3 SimpleDock a few months ago and I’ve put it through its paces ever since.  The first thing you’ll notice out of the box is that it is made extremely well, looks very ‘Apple’ and is substantial in weight. It doesn’t move when you plug in devices because of that weight and a rubberized bottom. On top, all you’ll see is a space that coincidentally fits an iPhone perfectly with a charger cable hole through the bottom. Around back, you’ll find 3 USB 3 ports, a Gigabit Ethernet port as well as a 10W high powered ‘Charge-only’ port.

simpledock_top_wired

So you are getting 3 products in one here: An iOS device quick charger, a USB3->Gigabit Ethernet adapter and 3 port USB 3 hub. The question is: Is the SimpleDock worth the $90?

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Universal Serial Bus Stories February 22, 2014

Bose-SoundlinkIII

I was a huge gushing fan of the Bose Soundlink Mini when I reviewed it this summer, calling it the “Best Sounding portable Bluetooth speaker ever”. For $199 you’d get bookshelf type of power and clarity with 6 hour battery in a portable package that you could throw in a coat pocket, bag, or purse.

This week, Bose started shipping a bigger version, the $299 Soundlink 3 which is officially the successor to the Soundlink 2 but it grabs a lot more technology, features and appearance from the very successful Mini.  The big bro ‘III’ boasts an impressive 14-hour battery, 6 Bluetooth device memory, and doubles the Mini with four drivers and two passive radiators. In the process it doubles in size to a 3-pound package that isn’t nearly as portable as the Mini at 5 inches high, 10 inches wide, and 2 inches deep.

But does that $100 and double size give you appreciably better sound?

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Universal Serial Bus Stories February 15, 2014

As our families grow, so do our device charging needs. Where we just used to need 2 USB ports to charge our iPhones, we now have iPads, cameras, Bluetooth speakers, portable flashlight/batteries and even a few Android devices laying around that constantly need to be chargers. Our excellent 2-port ZaggSparq just couldn’t handle all of the stuff anymore. Time to step up to something more substantial.

Anker-reviewsWe’d heard great things about the new Anker IQ 40W 5V / 8A 5-Port Family-Size USB power supply. In fact, at Amazon where it can be nabbed on sale for $26, it gets almost exclusive 4 and 5 star ratings.

Anker hooked me up with a unit to test out at CES and I’ve relied on it since to keep our house full of devices charged. What’s particularly impressive about this one is that it has 40W of power to distribute through the 5 USB ports (a 25W one is a few bucks less). Anker’s new IQ does one better by recognizing high power requirements in devices like iPads, other tablets and even HPs new Chromebook and giving those devices the full 2-3 Amps of power they need to get charged quickly. Anker explains it thusly:

Not all USB ports are equal. Where past USB ports were hard-wired to exclusively charge iOS OR Android, we’re introducing Smart Port technology to create a truly universal charger. Dynamically adjusting to any device’s unique maximum charging speed, the Smart Port takes the brainwork out of compatibility.Just plug in and it’ll do the rest.

Were the reviews right? Was this the end to my USB charging woes?

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Universal Serial Bus Stories February 6, 2014

Need occasional access to Windows on your Mac? Install it from a USB key …

If you need occasional access to Windows and don’t want to install it from a DVD, a how-to guide by Sam Power may have the perfect solution. It talks you through exactly how to create a Bootcamp-compatible USB key installer for either Windows 7 or 8 compatible.

A 4GB USB key is sufficient, and the complete process can be done in 20-40 minutes.

(Update: sorry for the confusion. You can’t install Bootcamp onto a USB Key yet. You’ll need Paralllels or VWMware for that.)

Universal Serial Bus Stories December 4, 2013

USB to go both ways in next gen revision

No, Apple isn’t redesigning its charging & data cable again – but a proposed change to the USB standard will allow future USB cables to be plugged in either way up.

Existing USB cables have a top and a bottom at both the computer/power and device ends. The new USB 3.1 standard calls for the same plug – known as type-C – to be used at both ends of the cable, and for it to work either way up. iDevice cables will have the new type-C connector at the Mac/power end, and the existing Lightning plug at the other.

Computers – including Macs – will need to switch to the new type-C socket, but adapters will allow existing sockets to be used with existing computers.

Full usb.org press release below … 

Universal Serial Bus Stories November 26, 2013

I should say at the outset that this is not cheap. Very not cheap. What you’re looking at is $890’s worth of external drive in the 512GB version I have here, or $500 for the 256GB model.

This is not a drive aimed at a consumer wanting a bit of external storage for their movies, but rather a high-performance drive aimed at audiovisual professionals who need an external drive that delivers the kind of speeds in a mobile environment that they are used to from their office setup …  expand full story

Universal Serial Bus Stories September 30, 2013

thunderbolt

I’m a huge fan of Thunderbolt. A single wire carrying both DisplayPort and high-speed PCIe data is an incredibly elegant approach to minimising cable clutter even if you don’t need the blistering speed, especially when you can use an Apple Thunderbolt Display as a hub for your USB devices.

I also admire clever tech. The reason you can daisy-chain up to six separate devices is because Thunderbolt automatically multiplexes and de-multiplexes the signals as needed. Thunderbolt 2 takes this approach one step further, combining two 10Gbit/s channels into a single 20Gbit/s connection, with the the Thunderbolt controller again doing all the work. It’s impressive stuff.

A fast, clever technology developed by Intel and enthusiastically marketed by Apple ought to stand a fighting chance at mass-market adoption. Sadly, there’s so far not much sign of this happening. It’s all looking rather reminiscent of Firewire …  expand full story

Universal Serial Bus Stories September 29, 2013

We’ve had a lot of experience reviewing the best portable Bluetooth speakers on the market but what haven’t yet covered speakers so small, you can actually wear them, put them on your bike, or listen to them in the shower. We have two for you today.

The first of these is the $30 Divoom Bean, a small, durable little Bluetooth speaker that looks a little like a ‘smurf lock’ and is the size of a large egg with a carabiner attached (blue above).  It weighs almost nothing and it charges via a micro-USB port on the bottom. It only has 2 buttons on it, a power button and ‘phone’ button. You’ll need to change volume from your phone or other A2DP Bluetooth device and this device seems to automatically switch off after a few minutes of inactivity. It also functions as a speakerphone.

How did it fare in our tests? expand full story

Universal Serial Bus Stories February 14, 2012

Giving a talk at Gerson Lehrman Group’s G+ community, the former EVP & FM of Mobile Platforms at Broadcom Scott Bibaud offered the above explanation about the benefits 802.11ac would bring to all devices. We have discussed Gigabit Wi-Fi before, but we did not really get a handle on when the new Wi-Fi standard would be hitting technology we now use. Apple is usually an early adopter of such technologies, but it is not likely—as you can hear above— that Apple’s next round of products will include this feature. Just think Airports and Macs at the end of this year, and iPad 4 /iPhone 6.

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Universal Serial Bus Stories February 8, 2012

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From 9to5Toys.com:

Amazon has the highly rated SanDisk Cruzer 32 GB USB Flash Drive for $22.99 with free shipping on orders over $25 or with Amazon Prime.  This drive is ruggedized and features a slide out USB interface. expand full story

Universal Serial Bus Stories February 5, 2012

From 9to5Toys.com:

A quick roundup of storage options from 9to5Toys at Amazon this weekend:

SDHC Cards: 16GB Amazon Class 4: $14.38; Transcend Micro Class 4 w/adapter: $12.98 (pictured) 32GB Sandisk Class 6: $29.95  Transcend Class 10: $32.95

USB Sticks: 8GB Kingston:  $6.95 16GB Kingston: $13.99, Sandisk $14.72 Transcend: $13.99 32GB Sandisk: $28.99 64GB Lexar: $61.10

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Universal Serial Bus Stories January 10, 2012

We love this add-on to the Mac Mini that turns it into more of a pro-device (and a cube!).  The business up front is a DVD-R drive (not sure about BluRay) and an SDXC card reader that complements the one on the back of the mini. On the rear, you get a high power USB source for quick-charging an iPad as well as a few USB 3.0 ports that require separate drivers.  Also on the back is an eSATA port for fast external peripheral support as well as two Firewire 800 ports. Inside, there is room for up to a 4TB 3.5 inch hard drive which you can order with the Mini Stack Max or you can bring your own.

This is interesting because it is moving the Mini more toward a pro-like setup.

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OWC has not put a price on the Mac Mini Stack Max but expects them to be available in March. expand full story

Universal Serial Bus Stories December 18, 2011

As we close out the year and approach Christmas, here is a quick review of some stellar items we have reviewed over the past few months.

Audyssey Lower East Side Speakers.  Truth be told, we were interested in the Airplay-enabled Lower East Side Audio Dock Air that seems to have been struck by production delays.  In the meantime, we are in love with the standalone LES powered speakers (right).  Very simple I/Os and almost perfect desktop-level sound makes these incredibly good for the small room or workspace.  Sure, they will fill up a medium sized room, but you will find much larger/expensive setups for that.  $199 Amazon. Bonus: If you want Airplay functionality, throw in a $95 Apple TV and an Optical cable.

Doxie Go Wireless scanner: The magic is putting an Eye-Fi card in the SD card slot that allows automatic Evernote/flickr Cloud synchronizing.  I use this at the front of my house without a computer where mail comes in.  Important stuff is run through the scanner and sent to the Cloud before it hits recycling.  Standalone Cloud scanners are the future.  It also does traditional Desktop scanning via USB. ($150-200 at Amazon.)

Atari Arcade. This little plastic iPad “dock” (does not work with iPhone 4) adds a joystick to the 100 Atari applications for $15 app (at present no other games support this – but more are planned). The quality is good and the gaming is certainly nostalgic.  It was fun to teach my kid the games I played when I was his age (which is probably why this thing is such a hit).  It would have been much better with a pass thru charger and landscape options.  Still, fun. ($59.99 Amazon) iCade is a more expensive option.

iHelicopter.net sent us a review unit after we showed their latest preview of their missile-shooting iHelocopter. After a few weeks of playing with this iOS device controlled (through an earphone dongle) helicopter, I can say it works as expected.  I have only used it inside but it has survived a lot of hard “landings” as well as direct hits on the ceiling and walls. The reason this one is so notable is that it shoots missiles through a spring-loaded system.  Yes, this works and with the gyroscope going, it is easy to hit your target.  ($69 shipped free globally.)

Logitech Tablet speaker.  Initially we were down on this little gadget because, let us face it, it is not a “looker”.  However, after playing with our review unit for a number of weeks, it has come in handy on a number of occasions and it produces impressive sound considering its size and portability. It clips to your iPad, is charged via USB and plugs into the headphone jack. The rechargeable batteries last for 8 hours. (Amazon – as low as $22)

Western Digital TV Live. Sure Apple TV does 90% of what this thing does, but if you want stuff like Hulu Plus, Spotify, Facebook or compatibility with DLNA and non- iOS compatible videos, this little $90 1080P TV works great. It also has a full sized USB port for hooking directly into USB Sticks, wireless keyboards, and hard drives.  ($89.99 – Amazon.) Also, consider Roku devices that start at $45.

Universal Serial Bus Stories December 10, 2011

Over the past month, I’ve been carrying around a Powerbag backpack from ful.  The idea is pretty straight-forward.  They put a 3000 mA battery inside a backpack complete with adapters for just about any device you’d ever want to charge.  On heavy usage days, I have a mobile charge with me at all times. Instead of taking out all of my devices when I get home, I just plug in the bag.

Read on for the full review…

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Universal Serial Bus Stories November 19, 2011

SanDisk® SDHC™ Cards

From 9to5toys.com:

Staples has the 16GB SanDisk SDHC Card for $14.99 with free shipping.  That’s the lowest price we’ve seen for a 16GB SDHC card.  Class 4 represents a minimum speed of around 4MB/sec.

Staples also offers a Sandisk Cruzer 16GB USB stick for $14.99. 8GB is $8.99 and 4GB is $5.99.  Staples currently offers free shipping sitewide with no minimum. expand full story

Universal Serial Bus Stories October 31, 2011

Monster Cable and 9to5Mac are sponsoring free iPhone 4S/ Accessory Pack giveaway

This week, we are co-sponsoring iPhone 4S + Monster Accessory Pack giveaways with Monster Cable. You can win the iPhone 4S + Accessory Pack from Monster Cable by liking their Facebook page and entering their contest here: https://www.facebook.com/monstercable. Enter once for a chance to win every week until December 23rd. Additionally, this week only, we […]

Universal Serial Bus Stories October 21, 2011

We mentioned the iHelicopter back in August and it looked like one of the better iOS controlled flying devices out there.  Today, it got a significant update.

The $69.99 Cobra iHelicopters now get to go on the offensive.  The Cobra is armed with two missiles that can take out targets over 6 feet away.

The older version (without missiles)  can be found as low as $50

Press release and more info follows…

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Universal Serial Bus Stories October 4, 2011

Apple unveils micro USB adapter for iPhones in Europe

It’s been long time coming and it’s finally here. The U.K. online Apple Store now lists the Apple iPhone Micro USB Adapter, available for £8.00 and shipping October 14. From Apple: The Apple iPhone Micro USB Adapter allows you to use third-party micro USB cables and chargers to sync or charge your iPhone. Simply connect […]

Universal Serial Bus Stories September 23, 2011

Anand, as per usual, does one of the more in-depth reviews we’ve seen of the Thunderbolt Displays. Some interesting notes:

  • The Thunderbolt Display uses less power than the previous Cinema Display at its dimmest setting (likely just panel efficiency variance) and draws a bit more at max brightness.
  • Pegasus hardware seems to cause serious audio issues which corrupts sound while large file transfers are happening. Expect a fix.
  • There are some nuances with display daisy chaining. For instance, in one configuration Anand had to put a Promise RAID array between the two displays in a daisy chain to get them to work.
  • Next year’s Ivy Bridge will bring more Display options to Macs (and likely USB 3 since the controller is built into the Intel chipset). The future may also hold displays with GPUs built in.
  • For a $1000 display, the speakers “were OK, but not great”. The Camera and Mic were both good.

If you are considering getting one of these displays, check out the full review which was very favorable overall. MacConnection also has the lowest price we could find on the new Thunderbolt display at $979.

Update: Macworld put up a review this morning as well. 4/5 Stars.

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Universal Serial Bus Stories September 22, 2011

We’ve been messing around with a damn fine looking set of portable hard drives for the past few days from Western Digital called My Passport Studio and My Passport Mac. They are encased in an all-aluminum shell, the My Passport Studio comes with two FireWire 800 ports as well as a Mini USB port around back; the latter only has a Mini USB port. The speed tests on these guys (see results below) was pretty average for 2.5-inch Firewire hard drives at just under 80MB/sec read, making the slight premium Western Digital is asking for these mostly “an aesthetic upgrade”.

…not that there is anything wrong with that. You can feel the quality in these drive enclosures. The aluminum shell is going to protect these from more drops than a plastic casing and these drives look the part of a high quality Mac setup. These drives are also so whisper quiet that the only way to know if they are running is the white LED on the back (much better than the front). As you can see from the pictures, both the Studio (formatted Windows) and Mac go well with a Unibody MacBook.

On the downside, these are slightly heavier than your typical hard drive at half a pound. Still though, that’s a small price to pay for quality. They are available now for $189.99 from Amazon for the Studio and $159 for the 1TB Mac

Press release follows:

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Universal Serial Bus Stories September 20, 2011

Since Apple and Intel’s joint announcement of the Thunderbolt high-speed I/O technology, one of the most anticipated products to make use of the technology has been the Thunderbolt-compatible Little Big Disk from LaCie. The drive – which comes in both HDD and SSD flavors – was announced all the way back in February for a “summer” launch, and is now finally arriving at Apple Stores in both the United States and internationally. LaCie’s description of Thunderbolt and why it is important for a product like the Little Big Disk:

This new high-speed cable technology connects computers and electronic devices together like never before. Thunderbolt technology supports two 10Gb/s bi-directional channels from a single port, the fastest data connection available on a personal computer. At 10Gb/s, a full-length HD movie can be transferred in less than 30 seconds.

Since the drive carries two ports, it can be daisy chained. The drives have already arrived at Apple Stores, which suggest immediate availability, and we are expecting an official announcement from LaCie in the coming days. The hard disk drive variant with 1TB of storage will reportedly cost $399.

Update: here they are.

Apple also announced Thunderbolt updates, another firmware update and a software update for Snow Leopard…

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Universal Serial Bus Stories September 19, 2011

Amazon selling lots of iContraband

Remember that cool iHub USB device that was briefly selling on M.I.C. Gadget, but then was pulled by Apple’s lawyers? It is back, and at a place you’ll probably feel a bit more familiar with: Amazon. Amazon has a few sellers selling that iHub again for prices (white, black) as low as $12.40. Interestingly, Amazon […]

Universal Serial Bus Stories September 16, 2011

Following the first shipments of Apple’s new 27-inch Thunderbolt Display, a new support document reveals some limitations regarding multiple display support that we weren’t exactly expecting.

Nearly every current Mac model is able to support two Thunderbolt displays. The exceptions are the 13-inch MacBook Air (mid 2011), which only supports one, and the 13-inch MacBook Pro which supports two, but disables the device’s main display to do so. Also of note, the $800 Mac mini can support three Thunderbolt displays thanks to the AMD graphics and its HDMI port.

One other somewhat surprising limitation of the new displays is the inability to daisy chain a Mini DisplayPort screen off the new Thunderbolt display. The support document explains: expand full story

Universal Serial Bus Stories September 15, 2011

Apple’s 27-inch Thunderbolt Cinema Displays have begun arriving to customer’s homes. The display looks virtually identical to the previous generation of the giant 27-inch Cinema Display from Apple, and includes USB ports, a Thunderbolt port, a FireWire 800 port, and an Ethernet port.

More photos courtesy of reader Scott are after the break.

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…in New Zealand anyway.  One 9to5Mac reader said that the Thunderbolt Display he ordered on August 17th was now en route to his home.  If anyone else has a shipping display let us know in the comments or at tips@9to5mac.com.

What’s perhaps most interesting about this shipment information is that these displays aren’t shipping directly from China as most Apple products do. They are shipping from a holding spot in Australia (below) perhaps indicating that the wait on these displays isn’t because of hardware, but in fact software, which, incidentally was updated last night on Thunderbolt MacBook Pros and Mac Minis.

Universal Serial Bus Stories September 13, 2011

Belkin took a little bit of time today at IDF to show off their new Thunderbolt Express Dock that provides a selection of ports that mirror the new 27-inch Apple Thunderbolt Display, sans the $999 price point.

The accessory sports three USB ports, a Thunderbolt port, Firewire 800 port, and Gigabit Ethernet. Perhaps the dock could use some more of that Apple “mimimalism” – we’re sensing some wasted space being used here.

There is no word on pricing or availability as of yet, and Daily Tech reminds us we might still have to cough up $50 for a Thunderbolt cable. We’ll keep you updated when the device is officially announced. More Thunderbolt accessories here, another image after the break. expand full story

Universal Serial Bus Stories September 7, 2011

Usually, when a brand new industry standard debuts on Macs, there’s a period of shortage before compatible devices begin trickling in. Thunderbolt is no different. Intel partnered with Apple on Thunderbolt earlier this year and it took Apple several months to update its notebooks, iMac and Mac mini families with Thunderbolt I/O. The offering of supported peripherals was initially limited to Apple’s $49 Thunderbolt cable, LaCie and Promise RAIDs, Matrox gearBlackMagic’s solution for field video editing and a couple other devices.

Following Intel’s release of the Thunderbolt development kit, more companies are announcing Thunderbolt-ready products. By the way, 9to5Mac, MacRumors and other publications received tips that Apple began shipping its new $999 Apple Thunderbolt Display to stores. Now, among the upcoming Thunderbolt gadgets, Magma’s ExpressBox 3T, seen in the above image, caught our attention. Basically a three-slot expansion chassis allowing any Thunderbolt-equipped Mac to connect to PCIe 2.0 cards, the box also lets you power up your MacBook Air’s integrate Intel HD Graphics 3000 processor with any PCIe graphics cards, useful if you’re going to do some serious video-related work or play latest games on your Air. The accessory is to be demoed at the upcoming Intel Developer Forum which runs September 13 – 15 in San Francisco.

Magma joins Sonnet, which also unveiled a similar Thunderbolt box last month. The $150 Sonnet ExpressCard/34 Thunderbolt adapter accepts ExpressCard peripherals and also expands your Air’s connectivity with eSATA, USB 3, Firewire 800, Gigabit Ethernet and SDXC and CF cards. More product highlights after the break…

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