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11
Oct

Jack Dorsey calls Twitter the ‘people’s news network’


One of the reasons that Twitter has struggled with its investors is because nobody, not even its leaders, really knows what Twitter is for. In a memo sent around to employees, CEO Jack Dorsey seems to have stumbled across his vision for the embattled company. The note, which was sent to celebrate a year running the company, describes the site as “the people’s news network,” with a combination of “news and talk.”

The document was procured by Bloomberg, which has been posting regular stories about Twitter’s internal problems. Last week, the newswire reported that Dorsey was locked in a three-way battle for the service’s soul, fighting CFO Anthony Noto and co-founder Ev Williams. The latter is pushing for a sale, while Noto has seized power and is dragging Twitter into live video — rather than as a “news and talk” network.

Dorsey also says that the last 12 months have been spent “getting to the truth” of what Twitter is. Now that he has arrived at this mission statement, he wants the company to “strive to be the first” whenever news breaks. Of course, given how much news is shared on Twitter, we’re not sure immediacy has ever been a real issue for the company. Compared to, say, the undercurrent of racism and abuse that dogs the platform and garners plenty of negative headlines in the press.

In the short term, it’s not clear if Dorsey’s memo was simply a generous note to his employees or something of a power play. After all, if you’ve been recently criticized for a “passive” leadership style, then sending a take-charge memo may help to beat back that perception. It also doesn’t help that several would-be buyers took a quick look at Twitter as a going concern and decided to walk away.

Source: Bloomberg

11
Oct

Review: Sennheiser’s PXC 550 Wireless Headphones Should Put Bose on Notice


Last month we looked at Bose’s wireless QuietComfort 35 noise-canceling headphones ($350) and came away with the feeling that – at least for those willing or able to test premium waters – Bluetooth-based audio fulfillment was finally a possibility.

So it would be remiss not to turn next to rival premium headphone maker and well-regarded German audio company Sennheiser to see what it has to offer in the wireless noise-canceling space.

Sennheiser has dipped its toes into the NC market before with the PXC 250-ii, PXC 450, and its lauded wireless Momentum series, but the firm announced its flagship PXC 550 travel cans ($400) in an almost direct response to Bose’s QuietComfort transition to Bluetooth, which makes comparisons here inevitable. First though let’s look at the design and features of the PXC 550 headphones on their own terms.

Design and Features

The PXC 550 headphones come with a sturdy semicircular carry case, a micro-USB cable for charging, a 2.5mm to 3.5mm cable for wired mode featuring an inline mic, a travel adapter, and a full-size headphone jack adapter.

PXC 550
The matte-black headphones look classy and elegant, with silver metal details that mark out the micro-grilles of four noise-canceling mics and accentuate the earcups’ oval shape.

The hinged pivots form part of a collapsible frame that folds flat for stowing in the travel case. It’s a solid, well-built design – which is just as well, because turning the earcups from a flat to an inward facing position powers the headphones on and reversing the action turns them off, so users will be doing this quite a lot.

PXC 550
The right earcup is where all the functionality lives: there’s a Bluetooth on/off switch; a separate switch to turn noise canceling on/off or enable adaptive ANC mode; a combined pairing and “Effect Mode” button; a three-mic array for speech during calls; and the aforementioned power switch built into the hinge.

PXC 550
On top of that, the back of the right earcup is sensitive to touch gestures, allowing you to control volume (slide a finger up/down) and playback (tap to play/pause, slide forward/backward to skip/go back a track), as well as to take and end calls. There’s also a micro USB charging port and a 2.5mm connector on the rim for the included headphone cable.

Battery life is stated as 30 hours wired and 20 hours wireless, both with ANC enabled, and the charging time is three hours. These extremely impressive times turned out to be very accurate in subsequent tests, especially given the expected differences in volume preference and the ANC’s variable response to changes in ambient noise. The battery though is not user-replaceable – the headphones need to be sent back to Sennheiser for a replacement installation.

PXC 550
The headphones connect using Bluetooth 4.2 or NFC on supporting devices. There’s a TalkThrough feature that makes it easier to hear someone speaking to you without taking off the headphones, and a built-in limiter to guard against sudden, extreme sound peaks. The PXC 550’s also save pairing profiles for up to eight devices. Lastly, there’s built-in support for the aptX codec, used for streaming 16-bit audio over Bluetooth connections (more on this below).

Performance

The PXC 550’s went into automatic pairing mode when I first turned them on. A series of LEDs on the earcup flashed in a running sequence as a female voice identified my iPhone as “Phone 1” and paired with it with no issues. I held down the Effect Mode button for four seconds to activate pairing mode again, as described in the Quick Start guide, and connected the headphones to my Mac (“Phone 2”). Switching between them was seamless and automatic, and simply depended on whichever device in proximity was playing audio at the time. The connection also remained strong throughout.

PXC 550
Headphone touch controls can be a hit and miss affair, ranging from the overly sensitive, to the just plain awkward to use. Sennheiser’s implementation sits at the middle of the scale because of the limited egg-shaped gesture surface. It’s another feature people have to try themselves to make a judgement, but I got on with them fine – my only gripe is that the levels of volume aren’t granular enough for my liking, and once or twice I found my finger reaching for my iPhone to adjust it more carefully instead.

PXC 550
The manual lists a bunch of gestures beyond the ones noted above. For instance, if you receive a call while you’re listening to music on your iPhone, you can transfer the call from the headphones to the phone by tapping and holding the earcup for a second. This lets you continue with the call if you don’t fancy wearing the headphones while chatting on the phone, while the aforementioned TalkThrough feature for chatting with someone in the same room is a double-tap away.

Elsewhere, swiping back and holding the gesture pad activates Siri, and tapping and holding for about four seconds gives you a quick battery status update. I seldom used these gestures, but the fact that they exist shows just how much thought has gone into the touch functions.

PXC 550The PXC 550’s in the worn “Power On” position (left); and laid flat to “Power Off”.
What impressed me more though was the rotating earcup power toggle. When I first started using the headphones, I actually didn’t like it much, and missed the binary certainty that comes with a classic on/off switch. But it didn’t take long for me to remember to lay them flat when I removed them, and after a while I thought it made a lot of sense.

Taking the headphones out of the carry case or picking them up from a flat orientation and putting them on… turns them on. And vice versa. Two steps combined in a single action. That the cans automatically connect with the last two paired devices when they power up – and each step is accompanied with an audible voice prompt – makes this an intuitive solution.

In terms of comfort, after a few hours’ use, I felt the PXC 550’s were on par with Bose’s QC35’s. Both headphones are fantastic to wear. True, the room within Sennheiser’s softly padded cups aren’t as wide in comparison, but the QC35’s are very spacious to begin with. My ears aren’t huge though – bigger lugs may find the reduced confines too close (or too warm) for comfort. Make sure you try them on first to check the fit.

PXC 550
As for the audio, the mid-range bass of the PXC 550’s is slightly more pronounced than the QC35’s. It’s more energetic and forward, but not in the artificial-sounding way that’s often associated with early Beats headphones, for example. It’s a thumping bass, but it doesn’t dominate the soundstage, which remains wide and detailed.

Overall I found the audio better than Bose’s ANC headphones. These closed-back cans offer what you might call a more “warm” sound, with a little less emphasis on the upper mid range, but a remarkably vibrant overall signature that works well with vocals, too. They sounded lively in both active and passive modes, with or without noise cancelation, and the customizable effect modes – club, movie, and speech – offered very decent alternative signatures for different listening scenarios.

PXC 550
There’s been some heated debate amongst noise-canceling connoisseurs about whether the PXC 550’s ANC is as good as or marginally weaker than the Bose QC35’s.

Having now tested both headphones side by side when no music is playing and in the exact same conditions, I honestly cannot tell the difference between them. This included wearing them while traveling by train, by plane, and while sitting in a living room with a dehumidifier humming away in the background. The only noticeable change came when I switched to the PXC 550’s adaptive ANC mode, which ever so slightly lags as it compensates for variations in ambient noise when you’re on the move. Otherwise, Sennheiser’s NoiseGard Hybrid technology is practically indistinguishable to Bose’s own patented ANC as far as this reviewer is concerned.

aptx codec
Another feature worth dwelling on is the PXC 550’s aptX support, which means they can wirelessly stream 16-bit audio, or what is roughly considered “CD-quality”. Sadly, none of Apple’s mobile devices currently support the aptX codec (to some, that’s inexplicable – aptX is supported by numerous Android phones and is licensed by Qualcomm, an Apple supplier). Happily though, aptX is built into OS X/macOS Sierra, and I was able to force my MacBook Pro to connect to Sennheiser’s headphones using the codec, thanks to Apple’s own Bluetooth Explorer utility.

The difference was subtle but noticeable when listening to high-bitrate, low compression formats, offering slightly better fidelity than when connecting to my iPhone 6s (which defaults to standard SBC, as per the Mac) and listening to the same files.

CapTune App

The CapTune app for iOS/Android could easily fill a whole other article. It’s where you can change the PXC 550’s audio prompts and percentage of ANC, and activate its Smart Pause and Call Enhancement modes. But that’s not even the half of it.

captune-1
CapTune is also a standalone music player and audio-tuning utility in its own right. You can create playlists, import them from iTunes, or use its recently played and most played auto-generated lists. It also optionally integrates with the Tidal streaming service, and comes with a free 90-day high-definition premium subscription trial.

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A number of audio files are supported by the app, including MP3, AIFF, AAC, WAV, and Apple Lossless. You can also customize the PXC 550’s existing sound profiles based on Boost, Spatial, Reverb, and DLC parameters, or create your own ‘Director’ profile, which then becomes the fourth selectable mode via the earcup Effect Mode button.

captune-3
In addition, there’s a soundcheck function where you can A/B-test a series of predefined equalizer settings, plus a bunch of genre-specific preset EQs to choose from. Lastly, you can save all of your settings in individual profiles for different scenarios – like a ‘gym’ or ‘relaxing’ profile, for instance.

Bottom Line

Take nothing away from Bose – the QC35’s are excellent headphones in their own right. But I came out of this test preferring the Sennheiser PXC 550’s, for a number of reasons.

First, they sound slightly better, and only narrowly fall short of the heights of Sennheiser’s wireless Momentum series. The design of the PXC 550’s is also more innovative and well-considered than the QC35’s, which are almost identical to Bose’s earlier flagship QC25’s (tried and tested though they may be) and come off feeling a bit uninspired as a result. As long as you can live with touch gestures, Sennheiser’s cans offer a more up-to-date setup. They also feel more rigid and less ‘creaky’ than Bose’s design, suggesting they will last longer in travelers’ luggage.

You can turn off the ANC and still listen wirelessly with the PXC 550’s; not so with the QC35’s. Sennheiser’s headphones also let you adjust the level of noise-canceling, which is arguably on par with Bose. The PXC-550’s are lighter (227g versus 309g) despite the additional tech; they also support aptX, where the QC35’s don’t; and in terms of app features, it’s no contest really – CapTune is the clear winner.

The Sennheiser PXC 550’s may cost a tidy sum, but on this evidence they make a good case for being the best noise-canceling Bluetooth headphones in the business.

Pros

  • Comfy, innovative, elegant design
  • Outrageously good battery life
  • Great sound and a first-class tuning app
  • Active NC to rival Bose

Cons

  • Touch controls may not suit some
  • Volume gesture could be more granular
  • Non-user-replaceable battery
  • $50 more expensive than Bose QC35

How to Buy

The Sennheiser PXC 550 headphones cost $400 and can be ordered on the Sennheiser website.

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Note: Sennheiser loaned the PXC 550’s to MacRumors for the purposes of this review. No other compensation was received.

Tags: Bose, Sennheiser
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11
Oct

Mattress Startup Casper Now Accepts Apple Pay on the Web


Casper has announced it now accepts Apple Pay on the web through Safari on both its desktop website on Mac and mobile website on iPhone and iPad.

Casper is a New York-based startup that sells an award-winning foam mattress exclusively through its website. The online retailer’s product lineup also includes a pillow, sheets, foundation, and dog bed, available in the United States, Canada, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.

Apple Pay on the web is a convenient and secure option for online payments, eliminating the need to repeatedly fill out account, shipping, and billing information for a more seamless checkout experience. Compatible devices include iPhone 6 and later, iPad Pro, iPad Air 2, and iPad mini 3 and later running iOS 10 or above.

Apple Pay on the web is a new Safari feature on iOS 10 and macOS Sierra, expanding upon in-store and in-app payments. The feature started rolling out in September on websites such as Staples, easyJet, Indiegogo, StubHub, and Wayfair, with other committed partners to follow.

Related Roundup: Apple Pay
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11
Oct

Dropbox for iOS Gains PDF Signing Tool, Messages Integration and Picture-in-Picture Support


Dropbox for iOS is being updated today with iOS 10 support and new features to improve the file storage and sharing experience.

With Messages integration, Dropbox users can select Dropbox files from within the Messages app and share them with friends and colleagues, alleviating the need to open the Dropbox app and copy a link. A new Dropbox widget can be added to the lock screen, providing easier access to tools for creating, viewing, and uploading files.

There’s a new tool in the Dropbox for signing PDFs, and there are options for getting notified when a file has been updated by a colleague so it can be refreshed with a tap.

dropboxpdf
Dropbox now includes support for picture-in-picture, a feature designed to let iPad users watch videos while performing other tasks. Split-screen support for compatible iPads is also coming in the near future, but won’t be included in today’s update.

Dropbox can be downloaded from the App Store for free. [Direct Link]

Tag: Dropbox
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11
Oct

Apple Seeds Fourth macOS Sierra 10.12.1 Beta to Developers and Public Beta Testers


Apple today seeded the fourth beta of an upcoming macOS Sierra update to developers and public beta testers for testing purposes, one week after seeding the third beta and three weeks after releasing the new macOS Sierra operating system to the public.

macOS Sierra 10.12.1 beta 4 can be downloaded from the Apple Developer Center or through the Software update mechanism in the Mac App Store for those who already have an earlier 10.12.1 beta installed.

macOS Sierra 10.12.1 appears to focus on bug fixes and under-the-hood performance improvements to address issues that have been found since the operating system’s release, and it’s also likely adding features designed for next-generation MacBook Pro models set to be released later this year.

Few outward-facing changes were discovered in the first three betas, but it does include Photos support for the new iPhone 7 Plus Portrait feature introduced with iOS 10.1. New features discovered in the fourth 10.12.1 beta will be listed below.

macOS Sierra is a significant update that brings features like Siri support, a new storage optimization option, cross device copy paste, auto unlocking with the Apple Watch, and more. For full details on macOS Sierra, make sure to check out our roundup.

Related Roundup: macOS Sierra
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11
Oct

How to sync selected folders between Dropbox and your Mac – CNET


With MacOS Sierra, you can sync your Desktop and Document folders to iCloud Drive, but if you are a Dropbox devotee, you can get the same functionality without adding to the number of cloud services you use. Dropbox offers the ability to sync folders between it and your Mac. Here’s how to set it up.

First, install the Dropbox app on your Mac. When the app installs, it places an icon in the menu bar. Click on the icon and then click the gear icon in the lower-right corner of the Dropbox window and click Preferences.

In Preferences, click the Accounts tab and then the Change Settings button for Selective Sync. This opens up a list of all of your top-level folders in Dropbox. Check the folders you would like synced between Dropbox and your Mac. A synced folder will hold two copies of each file — one in the cloud in Dropbox and one on your Mac.

dropbox-selective-sync.jpgEnlarge Image

Screenshot by Matt Elliott/CNET

Any folders you uncheck from Selective Sync will be removed from your Mac’s drive but remain on Dropbox, keeping your files in the cloud while freeing up some space on your Mac.

For more, read our full review of MacOS Sierra and learn how to use Sierra’s new features.

11
Oct

Scream for your morning coffee with this smart tech – CNET


Last week, Behmor announced an upcoming coffee maker that integrates with Amazon Dash to automatically reorder beans when you’re nearly out, but also with Alexa, so you can brew coffee with nothing more than your voice.

This means you could start the coffee maker before ever getting out of bed in the morning. That’s even better than linking a coffee maker to your Fitbit. Just prep everything the night before, tell Alexa when to start making the coffee and your morning pick-me-up will be waiting for you on your way out the door.

While the Behmor Connected Brewer may be the first coffee maker that natively integrates with Alexa, it’s not the only way you can brew a cup of coffee with your voice. There are several ways to accomplish the same thing with both Amazon’s Alexa speakers and Siri, using products that are readily available. Here’s how.

A smart switch and dumb coffee maker

Enlarge Image

The first and more affordable option requires a smart switch — which is compatible with HomeKit, Alexa or IFTTT — and any old coffee maker with a rocker switch (as opposed to a power button).

Using a coffee maker with a rocker switch means you can leave the coffee maker set to on while controlling the power from the smart switch. If the coffee maker has a power button, you may need to manually turn the coffee maker on, even after turning on the power with the smart switch.

When setting up your smart switch, give it a name like coffee maker or brew coffee. If your switch isn’t natively supported by HomeKit or Alexa, check for an Alexa skill by going to alexa.amazon.com, clicking Skills in the navigation pane to the left and searching for your smart switch brand. Unfortunately, if the switch isn’t supported by HomeKit, Siri control is out of luck. However, there is still an alternative for Alexa users.

If there is no native support or a skill for your smart switch brand, you will need to link the switch with your Alexa speaker using an IFTTT recipe, such as this one. This recipe is pretty generic, so you may want to create your own with a custom trigger phrase.

  • At ifttt.com, click on your username in the upper right corner of the page to access the dropdown menu and select Create.
  • Click This to begin.
  • Under Choose Trigger Channel, search for Amazon Alexa. Click the Alexa channel to select it.
  • For the Trigger, select Say a specific phrase. Type in a phrase like “coffee time” or “brew coffee” and click Create Trigger.
  • Click That to continue.
  • Search for the WeMo Insight Switch or WeMo Switch channel and select it.
  • For the Action select Brew coffee.
  • Click Create Action followed by Create Recipe to finalize the recipe.

Plug the coffee maker into the smart switch, fill the water reservoir with water and add a filter and coffee grounds to the brew basket. Then any time you want coffee, just say “Alexa, turn on the coffee maker” or “Hey Siri, turn on the coffee maker.” If you used an IFTTT recipe, you’ll have to say something more like “Alexa, trigger make coffee.”

Mr. Coffee Optimal Brew

The slightly more official (and expensive) option is to connect the Mr. Coffee Smart Optimal Brew 10-cup coffee maker with Alexa using IFTTT.

After you’ve set up the coffee maker, connect the IFTTT channel by going to ifttt.com and logging in or signing up. Click Channels in the upper right corner of the site and search for the WeMo Coffeemaker channel, click to select it and click Connect. This will take you through an authentication process which will link your WeMo and IFTTT accounts.

Next, add this IFTTT recipe to your account. Using the same instructions from the smart switch section above, you can create your own IFTTT recipe with a custom trigger phrase by swapping out WeMo Insight Switch or WeMo Switch with WeMo Coffeemaker for the Action Channel. Then select Brew coffee for the Action.

With this recipe active, make sure there is water in the reservoir and a filter and grounds in the basket. Then, just say “Alexa, trigger brew coffee” to start making coffee from bed, the shower or anywhere Alexa can hear you.

11
Oct

Ding Smart Doorbell Release Date, Price and Specs – CNET


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Ding

You know the drill. Someone rings your doorbell when you aren’t expecting it and you immediately enter stealth mode — tiptoeing around to catch a glimpse of the person through a nearby window without them noticing you.

If it’s a solicitor, you’ll want to ignore it. But if it’s a delivery person bringing that cute sweater you ordered from Asos a day earlier than anticipated, you’ll want to answer. What to do, what to do…

A handful of enterprising startups are already working to solve this universal dilemma with the smart doorbell. A Wi-Fi-enabled gizmo you swap in where your old buzzer used to be, smart doorbells give you more ways to “screen” your front door without actually opening it.

The Ding Smart Doorbell, pre-orderable on Kickstarter beginning today for a minimum campaign contribution of $119/£92 — roughly AU$155 at the current exchange rate — is simply the latest iteration of this connected doorbell trend.

Related Links:
  • Pro version of the Ring Video Doorbell swaps flexibility for refinement
  • SkyBell downsizes the smart doorbell with Trim Plus
  • Yale’s new doorbell lets you see who’s at the door
  • You won’t have to guess who’s coming to dinner with these smart doorbells

Here’s how the whole Wi-Fi doorbell thing has worked with all of the previous models I’ve tested:

The doorbell rings
An alert pops up on your phone
Click the alert to pull up a live video feed
Use the two-way talk function to speak with them, as needed

Assuming the internet connection at your home and on your phone is solid, you should be able to do this whether you’re snuggling on your couch 15 feet from your front door or on vacation a thousand miles away.

19 outdoor cameras that take home security…
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Ding is slightly different in that it doesn’t come with a camera at all. Instead, when someone rings your front door, you’ll get an alert and have the option to talk to the person from your phone via the related Android or iPhone app. This isn’t quite as exciting as being able to spy on your guests without peering through a peephole, but it still gives you the flexibility to ask that delivery person to leave your sweater under the doormat.

I didn’t find any mention of integrations with products from other manufacturers through IFTTT or another smart-home platform. Both Ring and SkyBell HD smart doorbells work with IFTTT, so that’s a little disappointing.

You do have the option of either hardwiring the Ding Smart Doorbell or using battery power (Ding doesn’t specify if it’s a rechargeable or a replacement battery). Your purchase also comes with an accompanying door chime, appropriately dubbed Chime. Mount it on the wall in your house or set it on a flat surface and Chime will act as a supplemental doorbell alarm.

Ding’s Kickstarter campaign began today, so there’s plenty of time to buy in. The funding goal is $50,000, units can ship anywhere in the world, and they are expect to reach backers in August 2017.

11
Oct

WD My Pasport portable drive review – CNET


The Good The new WD My Passport portable drive has lots of storage space, good performance and supports strong encryption. It’s available in some vivid color options and comes in an eye-catching design.

The Bad There’s no USB-C (so no future-proofing) and the high-capacity versions of the drive are bulky.

The Bottom Line You can carry a lot of data with the new My Passport and the many color options open up new organizational possibilities.

Visit manufacturer site for details.

wd-my-passport-8592-001.jpgView full gallery

Each color of the new WD My Passport comes with a color matching USB cable.

Josh Miller/CNET

If you want to store a lot of data, and maybe even use colors to categorize your data, the new My Passport portable drive from WD is for you. The drive has up to 4TB of storage space (also available in 3TB, 2TB and 1TB) and comes in six vivid (mostly) color options: black, yellow, red, white, orange and blue, each with a matching USB cable.

The new drive has a completely new design compared to previous My Passport models. It no longer looks anything like a passport book, taking instead a squarish shape with relatively sharp edges while still managing to look pretty good, in my opinion. One thing to keep in mind is that it’s thick, at about the size of a deck of cards, and measuring 0.85 inch by 3.21 inches by 4.33 inches (21.5×81.5x110mm), with the exception of the 1TB version which is thinner at 0.64 inch. However, this physical size is normal for high-capacity portable drives; the 4TB Seagate Backup Plus Fast also shares similars dimensions.

CNET USB 3.0 portable drive performance

Seagate Expansion

125.2

127.93

G-Tech Gdrive EV ATC

119.0

138.73

Seagate Backup Plus Slim (summer 2015)

118.8

125.35

WD My Passport Ultra (spring 2015)

110.2

117.34

WD My Passport (fall 2016)

106.4

108.56

WD Elements

95.7

102.15

Legend:

Write
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Note:

Longer bars mean better performance

Like most portable drives, the new My Passport supports USB 3.0. To my disappointment, however, it doesn’t use a USB-C port, instead opting for an old Micro-USB 3.0 port. This doesn’t affect the drive’s performance but does means it won’t work with computers that only have USB-C, such as the 12-inch Macbook. To compensate for its lack of vision, the drive supports the most secure 256 EAS encryption — an optional feature you can turn on using included security software — to protect your data from prying eyes. There’s also a backup software application called WD Backup. While it’s fine to use, it’s not as convenient as other built-in backup tools like Time Machine (Mac) or File History (Windows 10).

I used the 4GB version for performance tests and got somewhat above-average performance. With a sustained copy speed averaging around 110MB/s via USB 3.0 (the drive also works with a USB 2.0 port but at a significantly lower speed), it’s fast enough for almost anything you’d want to do with a portable drive.

Should I get it?

If you’re looking for a portable drive with a lot of storage space, the WD My Passport is a solid option, especially with a suggested retail price ranging from $60 to $80 for 1TB to 4TB, respectively. (You can expect the street price to be lower, and pricing for Australia and UK is not available at this time but that directly converts to a starting price of about AU$79 or £49.) If you intend to have multiple drives and use the colors as a way to categorize your data, it’s definitely a great choice. For something more portable, however, I’d recommend the WD My Passport Ultra or the Seagate Backup Plus Slim. And if USB-C is a must, the Glyph Blackbox Plus and the G-Tech G-Drive Mobile USB-C are better alternatives.

11
Oct

WD My Book (Fall 2016) review – CNET


The Good The new WD My Book is fast, good-looking and supports a high level of encryption.

The Bad The drive doesn’t support USB-C, is a bit slower than its competitors (with a higher price tag) and lacks additional features to have it stand apart.

The Bottom Line Though good-looking, capacious and fast, the WD My Book has no must-have special features.

Visit manufacturer site for details.

Is WD’s new My Book essentially the desktop version of its My Passport? Pretty much. Measuring 6.7 by 5.5 by 1.9 inches (170.6 by 139.3 by 49mm) the new drive is essentially the larger version of the My Passport, both in psychical size and capacity, delivering up to 8TB of storage (also available in 6TB, 4TB and 3TB). But unlike the portable drive, which is available in six colors, the My Book comes only in black, making it kind of boring.

The new external drive does share some of the same features as its smaller brother however, including support for 256-AES encryption, and the preloaded WD Backup software. Sure, it does what it’s supposed to do (backup your data) but is really only useful if you use an older version of Windows. With Windows 10, I’d recommend the native Windows 10 feature, File History for backups, and of course since all Macs have built-in Time Machine, there’s little need for any additional backup software there.

CNET USB 3.0 portable drive performance

Seagate Backup Plus Hub

181.3

195.78

WD My Book (Fall 2016)

167.8

167.43

Segate Backup Plus Desktop

150.9

180.45

Seagate Expansion

125.2

127.93

Buffalo MiniStation Extreme

110.3

118.82

ioSafe SoloPro G3

109.1

110.8

LaCie Christofle Sphere

105.5

111.43

Legend:

Write
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Note:

Longer bars mean better performance

The My Book doesn’t support USB-C. Instead it uses the old Micro-USB 3.0 port and includes a foot-long connection cable. This means it won’t work with computers that only have a USB-C port, like the Macbook. The My Book doesn’t have extra USB ports to work as a USB hub, a cool feature first introduced by the Seagate Backup Plus Hub. And like all desktop external hard drive, the My Book require an external power adapter to work.

I tested the 8TB version of the drive and via USB 3.0 and it did well, with the sustained copy speed averaging some 170MBps (that’s more than 50 percent faster than the My Passport). It’s not the fastest, however, trailing behind the recently reviewed Seagate Backup Plus Hub by more than 10MBps. To make matters worse, the new My Book has a more expensive suggested retail price starting at $130 for 3TB all the way up to $300 for 8TB (the 3TB and 8TB capacities of the Seagate Backup Plus Hub can currently be had for just $100 and $230, respectively.) It’s safe to say, however, that the street price of the My Book will likely be lower.

Should I get it?

While I like the look of the new WD My Book, I feel it doesn’t have enough to justify its comparatively high cost. The drive is a bit slower than its competitor and has no notable features, other than encryption, which is not important for a desktop drive since you won’t be carrying it around and likely won’t lose it. That said, while you won’t be disappointed getting it, I’d recommend the Seagate Backup Plus Hub instead for its faster performance and the included USB Hub feature. But when the street price gets lower, which is likely, the WD My Book will also make a great desktop external storage solution.

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