First look: Buffalo DriveStation & MiniStation

If you are wanting to store, access, transfer and view documents, files, images and other media collections efficiently, rapidly and ‘stylishly’, you may be interested in Buffalo Technology’s new MiniStation and DriveStation portable devices, both of which enable users to add additional storage to any laptop or computer via a USB port.


“Product innovation and engineering excellence”, is, according to Paul Hudson, Sales Director Northern Europe at Buffalo Technology, “at the heart of Buffalo’s core values”. Values to create pioneering products which have been proficiently engineered are certainly at the core of the storage design, development and manufacturing company’s latest external range, as both the MiniStation and DriveStation, allow users to store and access files without taking up the precious storage space on your PC’s hard drive.

The MiniStation is available in both 500GB and 1.0TB and, being compact, glossy and piano-black, provides an extremely elegant alternative to storing digital content. Being USB powered, no additional power supply is required and featuring Plug-n-Play means the MiniStation is ready for immediate use.


Also encased in a black, glossy finish, the DriveStation is equally as chic. For users wanting even faster transfer speeds and automatic backup, the DriveStation is available in USB 3.0, which can be purchased in 1TB, 2TB and 3TB. This ultra-fast portable single storage device can be positioned vertically or horizontally maximizing the efficient use of space. Whilst for those searching for a more ‘price-conscious’ external storage device, the DriveStation is also available with a USB 2.0 interface. The USB 2.0 version is available with both 1TB and 2TB capacities, and its pre-formatted drive means that it is also ready for immediate use.

Find out more on both at

Busbi Bolt USB 3.0 Flash Drive – Driving USB storage devices forward

I will always remember back in 2004, a rather eccentric friend of mine, who thinks he is not only a scientist but some kind of whiz kid on a computer, wearing a USB storage device dangling from a piece of ribbon around his neck. “This way I will never lose or have my important files stolen and can view them from any computer”, he would excitedly quip, lovingly stroking his USB key with the same tenderness a parent may handle their new born baby. As my friend was unemployed and did not seem to do too much all day, I remember thinking what could possibly be in the device that was so important, but nonetheless I was quietly impressed with my peculiar friend’s notable gadget.


Of course today USB keys are almost as common an item in pockets and handbags as conventional keys themselves, with most modern households owning several. Given this ordinariness and regularity, it seems only natural that the USB key should be progressing in innovation and stature at the same pace other gadgets and technology are moving – Enter the Busbi Bolt USB 3.0 Flash Drive, a state-of-the-at USB drive, which exploits USB 3.0 technology before it becomes implemented industry wide.

Designed by Busbi, manufacturers of personal storage devices, this ultra-sleek, lightweight and stylish USB pen is available in 16GB and 32GB capacities, and has an interface speed of up to 5Gbits per second. Talking of the benefits of the device and USB 3.0 technology, Luke Noonan, purchasing director at Busbi commented:
“As files containing our memories, work documents and personal details increase in size, transferring them to our PCs inevitably take more time. The new Busbi Bolt USB 3.0 stick has transfer speeds of up to 10 times quicker than USB 2.0, when paired with a compatible port.”

Measuring just 59.35 x 19.9 x 7mm, the sleek, silver finished Busbi Bolt, carries virtually no bulk and is therefore ultra-portable, even if, like my friend, you are bordering on the paranoid and insane and are determined to wear it round your neck to keep your files safe. Despite its slightness, the Busbi Bolt is also, Busbi reassure us, highly shock-resistant and durable.

The Busbi Bolt will be available later on this month and will cost £34.99 for a 16GB stick and £54.99 for the 32GB version.

Living in the back and beyond of rural Spain, I have not seen my ‘scientist’ friend for several years, but I often wonder if he is still carrying the same USB key around his neck, guarding it in a similar way a dog does a bone, or whether he is moving with the times. With the last sentence being highly unlikely, perhaps the Busbi Bolt USB 3.0 Flash Drive would make an appropriate birthday present for him.

Packard Bell’s aesthetically pleasing ixtreme

There aren’t many interesting desktop PCs in the world. Desktops are lumbering beasts in a world where small is cool. So how do you make a desktop system compete for awesome-points against smartphones and laptop? Packard Bell things it has the answer: the ixtreme.


Clearly educated by Apple’s marketing department, the ixtreme has copied two very iPad-esque features: putting an “i” at the start of the name, and coating everything in glossy black. Luckily for Packard Bell, it works.

The ixetreme is an attractive system, with an eye-catching glowing white internet light that illuminates the PB logo (sorry, that’s two more Apple design ideas: check out the Macbook line for glowing white lights and illuminated logos).

Copied aesthetics aside, there are some quite interesting – and unique – features for a desktop system. The “digital photo frame” button delivers a slide show of your preferred photos with a single touch, while an auto-backup button (conveniently located on top of the chassis) helps you to keep any precious files safe. It’s a great idea – two slightly fiddly computer functions simplified into a single button press.

The top-mounted “Device Deck” is another simplification method. It’s a small recessed area on top of the chassis, designed to hold a camera, MP3 player or camcorder while it’s connected to the USB port. Any cables can be hidden under a lid on the rear of the machine as a neat storage option.

It’s also extremely powerful. You’ll find either an Intel Core 2 processor inside, or one of the latest AMD offerings. Then there’s either 3D (as in, jumps-out of-screen) from a NVIDIA GeForce GT400 series graphics card, or the new generation AMD Radeon HD 6000.

Upgrade options include a Blu-ray drive, two USB3.0 ports and up to three hard drives, with a total storage capacity of up to 6TB.

The Packard Bell ixtreme will be available from February 2011, with a base price of around £699.

Freecom’s World first USB 3.0 external HDD

Once upon you would have had to knock up a few extra shelves to house your growing collection of movies, music and  important documents; but thankfully with the increasing digitisation of our day to day lives, you can now fit an entire library’s worth of information onto the smallest hard drives and storage devices. The problem is however that with ever-increasing file sizes the standard USB 2.0 connection is seeming a little slow, and can even make a spot of DIY carpentry look like a speedy alternative when faced with transferring something like a particularly hefty HD movie.

Thankfully though there’s an upgrade on the horizon with USB 3.0 offering a predicted tenfold increase over the file transfer speeds of our current connections. We’ve previously reported on the first PCI-E card to offer the upgrade to 3.0 and now comes the world’s first external hard drive to offer this super-charged technology.  The Hard Drive XS 3.0 comes from Freecom, an award-winning manufacturer of external hard drives and portable storage devices. Using USB 3.0 Freecom claim that their new drive offers transfer speeds of approximately 130 MB/s, significantly faster than existing solutions, enabling users to back up and upload information in a matter of seconds. Measuring only 3.5 inches it’s also one of the smallest desktop drives on the market and weighing in at just 860 grams it’s ideal for those that want to carry their data on the move. But don’t let it’s size fool you. With storage capacities of up to 2TB, the Hard Drive XS 3.0 can hold up to to 400,000 MP3’s, more than 1.3 million digital photos, 400 full DVDs or 2,000 movies; and with the ability to transfer a 5GB movie in just 38 seconds you can backup your data in no time at all.

It even looks good and priced at just £99.99 for the 1TB model it’s good value too. Just a shame then that we’ll have to wait until mid-November for its European release.


Correction – We’ve just heard from the company that the XS 3.0 is actually available immediately in EMEA.

Nanopoint announce USB 3.0 PCI-E card

Got lots of high definition video stored on your computer? Current USB speeds aren’t ideal for transferring large files, but they’re getting a serious upgrade. USB 3.0 offers theoretical transfer speeds of 4.8Gbps – a ten-fold increase over USB 2.0’s 480Mbps. It’s backwards compatible with current USB products, and won’t cost a huge amount more. Sound good? Well, you know there must be a catch, then.

Intel is the bigwig when it comes to implementing new input/output tech, as when they include it on their chipsets it will be supported by the majority of computers. Unfortunately, Intel is really dragging its feet over USB 3.0. The chipmaker doesn’t plan to offer full support until 2011, leaving other manufacturers to fill the void.

Step up UK distributor Nanopoint. The company is offering USB 3.0-ready ICY BOX external hard drive caddies (meaning you bring your own actual hard disk and pop it in the case), but even more helpfully you can now pick up a USB 3.0 PCI-E card. One of these little cards will allow just about everyone with a desktop PC to add some USB 3.0 ports to the back of their machine. Obviously, opening your PC case and inserting new hardware require a little bit of tech savvy-ness, but it’s a simple install.

Once you’ve got your USB 3.0 external hard drive and ports then you can combine the two for ludicrous speed. USB 3.0 does have a few drawbacks at this stage, however. It doesn’t currently have any official driver support from Windows, though Microsoft is planning to add that at in a service pack. That support should come to Windows 7 and likely Vista, though XP is an unknown. The current Linux kernel has USB 3.0 support raring to go, but there’s no information forthcoming about Macs.

That said, however, support is built into the ICY BOX hard drive caddies for Windows 7, Vista and XP. With the hard drive enclosures and PCI-E cards both coming in at around £40, if you’re looking for seriously fast file transfers then USB finally has you covered.