Best Hard Drives and Memory Cards

Best Hard Drives and Memory Cards

We can’t help but pause these days when we see an inconsequential video or silly image and think about how the size of that one file alone is larger than the memory capacity of many of the first modern computers, such as the Commodore 64 or the Apple IIE. But these days, as the price for memory has decreased, the capacity for portable storage devices such as hard drives has increased.  Kilobytes are obviously a matter of the distant past, but consumers now no longer need to worry about megabytes even. Choosing a reasonably priced storage solution is now a matter of having quick and easy access to storing gigabytes and even terabytes of information. That said, here’s a buying guide to the best hard drives and memory cards that can make the task much simpler.

Best Memory Cards: Picking the Right Storage Format

There are a few different formats, sizes and speeds of memory card, and finding the one that’s right for you is a matter of determining how you’ll be using them.  The most common size is the SD card, used in many digital cameras.  Mobile phones and tablet computers use smaller versions, such as a miniSD or a microSD.  Sony products use a proprietary format called a Memory Stick. 

The best thing to do when looking for a memory card is figuring out what you need it for, and choosing the right size.   The SD Association provides a nice chart on their site detailing at a glance the different sizes and uses of SD memory cards.  For example, a 16GB SD card can provide 160 minutes of HD video in fine mode, 240 minutes in normal mode and 360 minutes in economy mode.   The same card can also store more than 6,000 10 MP pictures.

With so many brands available, focus on the size of the card as your guide when purchasing.  And as a general practice, we always like to purchase at least one extra card to keep on hand with our device should something happen or we surprisingly fill a card up.

Top Hard Drives: Portable and External Models

While memory cards are the way to quickly store photos, video and other info from other devices, chances are they are all being loaded on home computers or networks. Before long, this data can add up, especially if you’re storing a lot of HD video. There are some great options for portable hard drive storage available, many of which provide automatic backup.  Here are three of our favorites:

ioSafe Rugged Portable – The ioSafe Rugged Portable likens itself to an airplane blackbox, touting it’s toughness and durability in case of water submersion, drops up to 20 feet, or even under crushing forces up to 5,000 pounds.  If you’ve got important data that you want to ensure is protected and remains intact even in a catastrophe, then the Rugged Portable is the storage solution for you.

 Western Digital My Passport – Offering 2 terrabytes of data storage in a design that is no larger than a paperback book, My Passport offers an easily portable way to transport a lot of data by hand.  If you have the drive constantly plugged in, it can automatically back up data, even at the instant you save it to your computer.

Seagate GoFlex – If you’re looking to back up more than just one computer, the GoFlex can hook into your wireless network and allow centralized backup and storage for up to 3 PCs and Macs.  Since it’s in the cloud, it also provides you with access to your files from anywhere you can access the Internet.  There’s even a SeaGate app that will allow you to access all your files from your smartphone or tablet.


5 eReaders Every Book Lover Should Own

5 eReaders Every Book Lover Should Own

Although the line between full-fledged tablet PC and eReader is becoming more and more blurry, vacationers, business travelers and students alike continue to flock to handheld devices which primarily focus on providing vast libraries of books at the touch of a fingertip, but provide just enough individual features to justify the purchase.  Here are the 5 best eReaders and eBook-playing gadgets for anyone on the go. Needless to say, all make great personal purchases or gift-giving options.

Amazon Kindle Fire  

With a full-color display and Amazon’s dedicated app store offering millions of entertainment options like TV shows, music and more, the Amazon Kindle Fire is sort of a souped-up eReader or stripped-down tablet, depending on how you want to look at it.  The 7” touchscreen is not only bigger than other eReaders, but also in full-color.  The Kindle Fire connects easily to Wi-Fi networks to provide for web browsing via Amazon’s Silk browser, and also offers enhanced features for Amazon Prime members, offering free books and streaming capabilities from select items from Amazon’s vast catalog. Priced at just under $200, the Kindle Fire quickly became the second-most popular tablet device (after iPad) when it debuted in 2011. 

Sony Reader

Sony’s dedicated eReader, the Sony Reader, is a lightweight and elegant device, designed to maximize battery life while providing crystal clear and paper-like displays.  Priced at $129, it’s less expensive than the Kindle Fire, and is a great choice for travelers who need to unplug for a bit – a single battery-charge with the wireless turned off can last up to five weeks.  The Sony Reader also boasts unprecedented and simple access to borrowing eBooks from public libraries, it’s as simple as pushing the public library icon.

Nook with GlowLight

Barnes & Noble’s Nook with GlowLight focuses on getting the light just right, no matter what the light situation.  The soft, glowing light is optimized for low-light situations and designed so that it’s just bright enough for the reader to see, but not so bright as to distract others.  Switching brightness is as simple as adjusting an onscreen slider and fonts can easily be made bigger and smaller, depending on your preference. The Nook also comes with built-in social features that allow you to easily connect with other Nook-using friends over Facebook to compare and recommend books you’ve read.  The Nook retails for $139 and boasts a comfortable exterior and a battery that can last up to a month on a single charge.

Kobo eReader Touch

The Kobo eReader Touch is designed to provide an eReader that is simple and comfortable to use.  Taking a cue from Apple’s iPad, the eReader Touch has one physical “home” button and uses the touchscreen for all other user input.  You can spot a Kobo eReader Touch by its distinctive soft-quilted back, which makes it comfortable to hold with one hand or set in your lap.  For non-English speakers, the Kobo is a great choice as the first eReader device to be available in multiple languages.  It’s a great value too, with a $99.99 price tag that makes it the most cost-effective choice on the market.  And if that’s not inexpensive enough, you can buy a Kobo eReader Touch for $79.99 that pushes ads or offers to you in exchange for the lower price.

Apple iPad

Although the iPad is much more than just an eReader, its overwhelming popularity, sleek design and high-resolution Retina display make it great for taking books on the go.  Sure, it’s got a high-resolution camera, hundreds of thousands of apps, and even the ability to take HD-quality videos, but as an eReader you can download apps from all the other competitive eReaders and enjoy access to their library books straight from you iPad.  If cost is no object and you have an iPad anyway, you’ll probably want to consider using it to access the eReader libraries of all the other products we mentioned, whether by an official app or through other apps that let you access your libraries for devices like the Sony Reader via the iPad.

Hottest New Video Game Gear

Hottest New Video Game Gear

It was more than just games on display at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) in Los Angeles – there were also tons of the hottest new video game gear, gadgets, accessories and devices designed with gamers in mind to sample. Looking to give your playroom an upgrade in 2012? Here’s a look at some of the best controllers, headphones, joysticks and more that we could find.

Afterglow Wireless Headphones – PDP– The Afterglow wireless headsets provide 10 hours of wireless use, with high-fidelity surround soon and bass-boosting capability.  The devices also feature multi-colored lights, and are a great complement to the company’s popular line of Afterglow controllers.

AV8R Arcade Flight Stick – MadCatz – With a design based on historically accurate WWII aircraft, the AV8R Arcade Flight Stick is designed to accompany the aerial combat game Damage Inc. Pacific Squadron WWII.  The game actually marks MadCatz’s first foray into the world of video game publishing, so you can be sure the AV8R Arcade Flight Stick will be a perfect complement for the Damage Inc. game experience.

Dice + – Dice + – This real-life six sided die is seemingly blank, but when it comes close to your smartphone, tablet, TV or other BlueTooth device, it can be used to play a variety of game apps which come free with purchase.  There are a wide variety of custom-made and traditional games, such as backgammon, that will have you gathering around your screen like a gameboard with friends or family.

Fusion Controller – Power A – Billed as the controller that “built for gamers by gamers,” Power A’s Fusion line of controllers feature interchangeable soft-touch and regular grips, an ergonomic design that’s been refined down to the millimeter by pro gamers, and buttons that have been machine-tested to withstand millions of presses. With its own hard carrying case, it’s sort of the equivalent of a baseball mitt or personal bowling ball for those serious about video games.

Inflatable Tablet Case for Kids – CTA – Here’s something that’s simple yet brilliant: an inflatable cube with a pocket for your iPhone or tablet computer that will allow your pre-schoolers to play with it without fear of it falling and breaking.  Measuring about two feet on each edge, the cubes are currently available in licensed versions featuring Dora or SpongeBob, or in a more generic design.

Moga –Power A –This mobile gamepad hooks up to any Android device and can also be used with any tablet computer, giving gamers on the go access to more traditional home console game experiences using their mobile device.  Developers are eager to create games that utilize this additional functionality, as it can allow for deeper game experiences created with more than just touch and swipe inputs.

Power Grip Pro – Nyko – This 3DS attachment promises to triple the battery life of the 3DS while also providing another circle pad on the right side of the screen, just next to the buttons.  Although it makes the system’s profile about 25% wider, the proposition of longer battery life and better control is something that makes the larger size worth it.

Razer Taipan – Razer – This ambidextrous mouse from the pioneers in precision gaming is comfortable, lightweight and incredibly precise.  Pro gamers helped design it, and you can customize everything from pointer speed to a personalized lift off range for the ultimate PC gaming edge.

Sphero – Sphero – If this glowing orb were simply a customizable and programmable toy device that can be controlled with your mobile phone, that would be cool enough for us to recommend it. But it also can be used with a number of free apps ranging from those that allow easy video-taking and sharing to games that have you put Sphero in your hand on a table to be used as a controller.

Turtle Beach Headphones – Turtle Beach – With designs for nearly every level of gamer, Turtle Beach’s headphones come in nearly configuration available. Gamers can find the design that’s right for them, whether it’s wired or wireless, stereo or surround sound, Xbox or PS3 and more.