Friday, November 28, 2008

Sandisk Cruzer Speed Test: 16gb vs 8gb

Black Friday 2008 brought a great deal on the Sandisk 16gb Cruzer drive. I wondered how it would perform next to the older 8gb model I had. The 16gb does not say it is ready boost compatible, you can see why. Here are the results:

In Windows Vista:
write speed: 5.3 mb/s
read speed: 23 mb/s

write speed: 7.4 mb/s
read speed: 27 mb/s

So, the read speed is relatively close (the 8gb is still faster). The write speed is about 40% slower on the newer 16 gig memory stick. That's a step backwards.

Here are some results inside XP Pro:
Using a 454 megabyte directory of files:

16gb wrote it in 1:41. Read it in 21 seconds.
8gb wrote it in 1:12. Read it in 20 seconds.

Summary: Great increase in space, it's slower than the older model...especially the write speed.

Want to read a really intense comparison between 20+ flash drives 12/2008? Click here.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Best pocket cameras Q4 2008

DP Review is where I like to go for camera reviews and active forums. I shoot with a 40d and a couple nice lenses most times. For out on the town with a tiny camera needs, two cameras came out on top of their latest review:

The Sony W120 ($130) and the Panasonic LZ8 ($110). You can read their conclusion here and click through to the whole detailed article too.

DP Review review link.

Update: In 2011, the best pocked camera for under $400 is the Canon S95. I have it and it is fantastic. A huge improvement over cameras from a few years ago.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

To archive to DVD or hard drive or both?

My backup needs at work and home may be a little more than the average computer use. Each day I generate a few hundred megabytes of digital audio & video files. My wife is a photography nut (currently shooting a Canon 40d).

Previously the backup strategy was to burn the material to recordable dvd's and store them in a safe. Even though the speed of dvd burners is now 18x+, it still takes quite a while to archive onto 3 or 4 dvd's every couple months. Then I thought, with the prices of hard drives being so low, wouldn't it just make sense to backup everything to a $130 500 gig external drive? That's how I mirror my main audio/video work station. I was using an Icy Dock MB559 eSATA external enclosure ($60) with a Samsung 500 gig drive ($100). It works great and is just as fast as an on board sata hard drive. The only issue is you have to buy caddies for each hard drive you want to use ($20).
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That's great for day to day, but what about permanent archiving? Is a hard drive fine? Well, an event last month made me reconsider moving entirely to a hard drive based archive system. One of the drives I was using to backup my wife's pictures died. It was a western digital mybook 300 gig drive. It just stopped working and would lock up any machine I connected it to. Thankfully my strategy also included burning dvd's with the same content. The hard drive is so much faster to write and read from than a dvd...but hard drives fail. Yes, dvd's can fail too, especially if they're not handled carefully.

Going forward I plan to still use an external drive for quick access to archived stuff as well as burning irreplaceable things (family pictures, etc.) to recordable dvd's. A new product from Thermaltake has made it even easier.

Now, instead of having to put a hard drive inside an enclosure to access old archived stuff, I can just pop the hard drive inside the Blacx (roughly $35 to $45). The original version is USB 2.0 speed (model N0028USU) and in use it operates as fast as the fastest external usb drives. They have another version with eSATA connection (Newegg and have it in stock, model # ST0005U). I bought one of each and have found the eSATA to be roughly twice as fast using the same hard drive.

My test data: Moving a 1.067 gig file from the main computer to the external drive:
USB 2.0 took 45 seconds.
Utilizing eSATA took 20 seconds.

For the important audio & video, I plan to have two hard drive backups of material. I fill up about 500 gigs in a year, so buying an extra drive each year to help keep things safe will only set me back $120 or so.

Years ago I had a system hard drive fail. It took me two to three days to get my system set up the way I had it before. Over the past five years I've been using Acronis True Image to make a system backup a couple times a month to a separate hard drive. Now if my system drive fails, it should take me under an hour to install a new drive, use the image to re-install windows and be back on my way. Sure a lot better than having to reinstall windows & all the software that makes my studio run.

So that's my backup strategy, what's yours?

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Recording audio on the road

People often ask how to record high quality audio on the road...this could also work in a normal studio.

I use the Sound Devices USB Pre in my studio & on the road.

USBPre Microphone Interface for Computer Audio

Link here:

the biggest plus is it has an awesome mic pre-amp…really high quality. It will also take ¼” inputs, digital inputs, etc. It’s very well built, and it costs $550 or so. I just bought one on ebay for $350 so I can keep it in my road bag, so you can sometimes find them used, but not often. I’ve been looking for six months.

Another one that might make sense would be this one:

$225 or so. One benefit would be the ‘insert channel’ so you could run a tiny compressor or something similar to make sure the sound was already compressed a little on the way in to the computer. If you want a really good compressor that is tiny and cheap, this one is the best there is for under $500:

looks like junk, sounds really good. It’s $199.

If you wanted to go as cheap as possible on the sound card, the one that would still sound 90% as good would be this one (it doesn’t have the insert patch for an outboard compressor):

it’s about $150.

If you want to get a great mic that is good at rejecting side noise and stuff, one mic I use often is the Sennheiser MKH-416 shotgun. You can sometimes find them on ebay for $750 used, they’re $1000 new. Just make sure you get the P48 version (phantom power). It should be black, not the silver one.

I usually get the best prices and cheap shipping from a guy at Full Compass. Call Martin Vire at 800-356-5844 x1179. He’s also really good with advice and is usually dead on with his suggestions. Feel free to drop my name to him.