Photo Of The Day By Marcella Raust

Today’s Photo Of The Day is “Sand Dunes” by Marcella Raust. Location: Great Sand Dunes National Park And Preserve, Colorado.
Photo By Marcella Raust

Today’s Photo Of The Day is “Sand Dunes” by Marcella Raust. Location: Great Sand Dunes National Park And Preserve, Colorado.

Photo of the Day is chosen from various OP galleries, including Assignments, Galleries and the OP Contests. Assignments have weekly winners that are featured on the OP website homepage, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. To get your photos in the running, all you have to do is submit them.

The post Photo Of The Day By Marcella Raust appeared first on Outdoor Photographer.

Samsung could bundle its own AirPod competitors with the Note 8

Samsung is busy working on some Bixby-powered AirPod competitors ready to launch alongside the Galaxy Note 8, according to Korean outlet ETNews, giving Samsung fans the opportunity to show off their very own awkward-looking wireless earbuds.

ETNews doesn't have the most reliable record when it comes to Samsung and Apple leaks, but it would be a surprise if Samsung wasn't developing some kind of tech like this – it likes to keep parity with Apple at all times, and its Bixby smart assistant just launched in the US.

The report says the headphones are going to feature noise-cancelling technology to optimize your listening experience, and we're presuming they're going to be backwards compatible with the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8 Plus too.

Smart assistant wars

Samsung itself is staying tight-lipped, as you would expect, but the move would give some much-needed publicity to its fledgling smart assistant. Rumors had been swirling that a Bixby-powered smart speaker was on the way too, but that idea has apparently now been shelved by Samsung.

Sources speaking to ETNews say the device isn't final yet, so it might not be ready in time for the Galaxy Note 8 launch, which we're expecting on August 23. If Samsung isn't happy with the headphones then they might not see the light of day at all.

Developing a smart, competent, versatile assistant app isn't easy, as Samsung is finding, especially considering the likes of Amazon, Google, Microsoft and Apple have such a big head start. The next few months could determine whether Bixby sinks or swims.

  • Here's everything else we're expecting to see with the Galaxy Note 8

Via The Verge

The 9 best SSDs of 2017

Updated: We've added the HP S700 Pro SSD to the ninth slot. Read on find out why this business-oriented drive is one our top picks.

Looking for the best SSD, otherwise known as solid-state drive? You've come to the right place, as we list the very best SSDs you can buy in 2017.

We've also got some handy buying advice if you're looking to get a new SSD. Capacity has always been the source of insecurity for SSDs. Even now, 15TB will cost you more than 7,000 clams from Samsung, and that's where the capacity maxes out (that is, until the company's 32TB model touches down).

Luckily, there are drives like the Crucial MX300 that’ll set you back less than 300 a terabyte, and even the tiniest solid state drive will soak up a Windows installation. Simply chuck the rest in the big ol’ data bin we call a hard drive.

Note that, for the sake of simplicity, here we will be looking at SATA models only. No mSATA, M.2 SATA, PCIe or standard PCI models. Keep in mind that PCIe drives will generally perform better than SATA drives but also tend to cost far more.

  • See our best HDD and SSD deals page for the latest updated pricing

patriot

Anything smaller than 120GB is probably too small if you want to use only one hard drive in your computer.

When it comes to price, the Patriot Torch LE range remains the one to be beaten. Its 120GB model is the cheapest SSD in the UK with a very competitive £0.24/GB pricing. Expect minimal packaging or instructions, which makes it perfect for DIYers.

The drive, which uses a Phison S10 controller, is backed by a three-year warranty and Patriot is a well-known memory computer hardware manufacturer. The 120GB model is rated at up to 425MBps and 560MBps for write and read respectively.

As expected, it comes with a slew of other features including end-to-end data path protection (ETEP), advanced wear-levelling and garbage collection, smart ECC, refresh and flush.

Hynix

Hynix is not a household name but the South Korean company is actually a big player in the world of memory chipmakers, ranking second only to might Samsung.

No surprise that, like their arch rivals, they use their own memory – TLC NAND – in their products. The storage controller is an unknown quantity.

The SL301, with a 250GB capacity, has one of the cheapest per GB price in this category at 20p but that doesn't mean that corners have been cut.

The drive has a rated read/write speed of 540MBPs and 470MBps with a read/write IOPS of up to 95K and 85K respectively, all backed by a solid three-year warranty.

In the US or Australia? Try the Sandisk Ultra II SSD at 240GB:

Toshiba

Asian SSD manufacturers score another winner here as Toshiba nabs that place with the Q300 (2016 version) which, despite being just a relatively new product, has one of the cheapest per GB price of any SSD in the UK.

The inventor of the Flash memory doesn't cut corners on this one, using 3-bit-per-cell 15 nm NAND Flash and advanced-speed and Adaptive Size SLC Write Cache technology as well as its own controller, the Toshiba TC58NC1000, a customised version of the popular Phison S10 controller.

As for other SSDs listed here, this one comes with a three-year warranty and the firm, which purchased SSD specialist OCZ not long ago, claims that the SSD is capable of read/write IOPS of 87K and 83K respectively with sequential R/W speeds topping 550MBps and 530MBps respectively.

 In the US or Australia? Try the Sandisk Ultra II SSD at 1TB: 

Sandisk

Sandisk is one of the better known SSD vendors out there; it also produces memory cards and other storage devices. Now, as part of Western Digital, it is likely to collaborate with HGST, the other WD company acquired which has some valuable solid state expertise.

Sandisk’s Ultra II has the second cheapest per GB price at just £0.18, offering sequential read/write speeds of 550MBps and 500MBps as well as random read/write speeds of 99K and 83K IOPS respectively.

nCache 2.0 technology, Sandisk claims, will deliver enhanced speed and endurance with the SSD dashboard providing with data in real-time about the drive itself. Coupled with a 3-year warranty, this is one of the better deals on the market.

The Crucial MX300 SSD 1050GB is another high capacity SSD that lets you have both speed and disk space – you no longer have to sacrifice one or the other. It does come at a price, however, but the Crucial MX300 SSD 1050GB's price tag is actually relatively low compared to other high-capacity SSDs.

It doesn't mean it's cheap, however, and it's still quite a bit more expensive than a traditional hard drive. However, the decent read and write speeds makes this a hard drive that's definitely worth considering.

This drive is available in 525GB, 750GB, 1050GB and 2TB capacities  so if you don’t need 1TB, there are other sizes that would suit your needs better.

If you want a fast, large capacity SSD for your data center, NAS device or other professional use, then the Toshiba THNSN1Q60CSE 1.6TB SSD is  worth considering – though it comes with a steep price. 

As it is housed in a 2.5-inch body, which is a common size for hard drives, the Toshiba THNSN1Q60CSE can be installed in desktop and laptop PCs, offering huge file capacity while also giving you the speed benefits of solid state drives.

The cost of such a high capacity SSD will be prohibitive for many people, but it's well worth the money if you need both fast speeds and high capacities.

In the US or Australia? Try the Samsung 850 EVO at 2TB:

If you are after speedy drives rather than just capacity, then there’s really only two models on the market: Samsung’s 850 Pro and the Sandisk Extreme Pro.

Pair either of those drive in RAID-0 mode and you would have a pretty compelling storage subsystem (although the law of diminishing returns dictates that the improvement is likely to be less than 100%).

The former uses 3D V-NAND memory to deliver some of the best performance on the market despite being more than one-year old. Its sequential R/W speeds reach 550MBps/520MBps while its random R/W speeds top 100K/90K IOPS. Add in a 10-year warranty and a useful 256-bit AES self-encryption feature and it’s easy to see its appeal.

As for the Sandisk Extreme Pro, it has remarkably similar specs, at least on paper, to the 850 Pro. Same warranty, similar sequential read/write performance and random read/write speeds. 

It uses a two-tiered cache architecture called nCache Pro and offers a nifty SSD dashboard to assess your drive's health and performance in real time.

For a SATA 3 SSD with up to 512GB of storage, you’re getting a pretty good deal if you opt for the HP S700 Pro. Of course, you might be hesitant buying a hard drive coming from HP, as the company is historically known for its computers and printers – certainly not its internal PC components. 

It doesn’t take advantage of the latest PCIe/M.2 speeds and form factor as the Toshiba OCZ RD400, but it nevertheless packs Micron’s 3D NAND technology and 565MBps/520MBps sequential read/write speeds. The HP S700 Pro SSD is far from the fastest, but it has a leg up on a lot of other SATA 3 drives. Plus, it’s extremely reliable with a low power draw offers protection in case of read/write errors.

Read the full review: HP S700 Pro SSD

Desire Athow and Gabe Carey have also contributed to this article

Top 8 best portable laptop battery chargers and power banks in 2017

There's nothing worse than having your laptop run out of battery and you're far away from a power socket. Thankfully,a new generation of portable laptop charger battery packs means that you won't be stuck without your trusty laptop anymore.

They can even replace your original laptop charger altogether, providing you with an uninterruptible power supply wherever you happen to be.

In this article we’ve lined up the best of the bunch, highlighting the top portable laptop battery chargers and power banks you should consider purchasing.

  • You might also want to peruse our list of best business laptops

Backed by a two-year warranty, this emergency battery for your laptop comes with 10 connectors to cover most of the notebooks on the market. With a 23Ah/85Wh capacity and a maximum power output of 90W (20V, 4.5A), it tips the scale at just under 560g which makes this device great when travelling by plane. The marketing blurb even mentions ‘anti-explosion’ batteries.

As expected, there are no USB Type-C connectors and you will need to carry its very own 40W (20V, 2A) power supply unit – with a proprietary connector – to charge it on the go.

Advances in computer component technology mean that newer laptops now need less juice to work. This is particularly true for high-end models like the latest Apple MacBook, HP Elite x2 1012 G1, the Huawei MateBook or Dell’s popular XPS 13 family.

The common point for all of them is the fact that they have a USB Type-C connector. RAVPower can deliver up to 30W (20V, 1.5A) of power which should be enough for the target products. You can recharge it using a 30W wall charger that can also be used to power compatible laptops – very handy indeed.

Here’s the perfect example of a vendor that went the extra mile to make sure that its product matches the expectations of the audience. The MaxOak has all the hallmarks of an Apple device – without bearing the logo – but with the matching brushed aluminium finish.

It has the second-highest capacity of all the battery chargers on this list, but these beefy reserves come with a big disadvantage – it has such a large capacity that at least one airline has banned it, so bear that in mind if you plan to use this peripheral to satisfy your long haul travels. It is relatively heavy at almost 1kg and will cater for most recent Apple laptops (MacBook Air, MacBook Pro and MacBook) but nothing else.

This is the only charger in this list that targets Microsoft’s popular Surface range by offering the appropriate DC output voltage (12V and 15V). It comes with a generous five ports, four of which allow you to charge other 5V devices (that includes anything from other power banks to tablets and smartphones).

Of particular interest is the support for fast-charging courtesy of Qualcomm’s Qi technology. You will be able to charge the new MacBook as well, but no traditional laptops that rely on a 19V DC output. Just be aware that its capacity, 35Ah, may get it banned on some airlines, just like the MaxOak devices above and below.

The K2 is the world’s second highest mountain and it is fitting – to some extent – that MaxOak named this battery after that lofty peak. After all, at 50Ah, this is the biggest battery on our list and one that is also the heaviest of the lot. It supports laptops up to 60W (3A, 20V) as well as fast-charging.

Note that it takes up to eight hours to charge the battery and that can only be achieved via a proprietary charger. Sadly, it doesn’t carry a USB Type-C connector – which makes it useless for newer laptops – and you won’t be able to lug it around on the plane (as with the previous two peripherals, the massive capacity here may mean it’s banned on some flights).

Sandberg's Powerbank is neither the cheapest nor the most powerful around. However, it does come with a couple of features that make it a rather enticing option. It outputs to a number of voltages (12V, 16V, 19V and 20V), automatically choosing the right one depending on the device which is connected.

There are also two USB ports and these are obviously hardwired to output 5V on both. You get 12 different charge tips but sadly none would fit our Dell XPS 13, and they won't be useful for USB Type-C models like the XPS 13 from 2016.

There are a couple of things that differentiate this from most of its rivals: it uses a brushed, premium aluminium finish, with bright blue LED status lights that clearly indicate the amount of juice left (or how close the battery is to being charged).

If you are looking for a versatile laptop charger, then do consider this RavPower offering. It is by far the most expensive model on our list, but this Reddot award winner carries a feature that no one has replicated till now. It has an AC output that can deliver up to 100W of power – yes, this could even power a TV if needed.

Note that you will probably need an adaptor (there’s one bundled) because the power bank can only accommodate two-prong plugs. You will be able to take it on a commercial flight, but you will not be able to recharge it via USB.

Dell sells the Power Companion with various battery capacities. It is more compact than the RAVPower models, and the unit looks like a Dell power brick that charges your laptop. When you're at your desk, you can daisy-chain to recharge the Power Companion and your Dell laptop by connecting your Dell charging brick to the Power Companion, and then connecting it to your notebook.

Dell's Power Companion is a far sleeker battery pack if your office relies on Dell Inspiron, Latitude, XPS or Venue laptops and tablets, with the added benefit that it has extra USB ports should you need them.