Western Digital My Passport SSD Review

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Tuesday, September 11, 2018

WD My Passport SSD
Storage is one of the most important factor to look at while buying any electronic device, be it a smartphone, desktop, or a laptop. Today we have smartphones coming up with 512GB of internal storage and laptops storage ranging up to 4TB. Having additional storage solutions for data creators can help in keeping backup for files for various capacity. Then what matters next is the speed and portability of the storage devices.

Two most widely available types of storage devices in the market include hard disk drives (HDDs) and solid-state drives (SSDs). The major difference between the two is the architecture, speed, compactness, and reliability. HDDs are cheaper and come in many storage configurations, whereas, SSDs may be sleek and compact, but are expensive and are available in limited capacities.

Today, I will be reviewing the Western Digital My Passport SSD, which is the only portable SSD drive in WD's My Passport series. Manufacturers are including internal SSDs in laptops already but an external SSD is required when transferring tens and hundreds of GB's of files from one machine to another. HDDs are not the best choice in that scenario.

The storage capacity of the WD SSD I'm reviewing is 256 GB and is available from Amazon.in for Rs. 8,999, which is a bit cheaper than the other competitor brands that offer SSD’s in India.


Box Contents

  • 256 GB WD SSD
  • USB Type-C cable (USB 3.1 Gen-2)
  • USB-C to USB-A adapter
  • Quick install guide

Design

Western Digital is well-known for its design and the My Passport SSD is no exception. It has a dual-tone look, with the first half made of plastic with matte black touch, and the other half made of metal with diagonal lines texture, which is a fingerprint magnet. The product is a style-icon in its category. The WD logo sits on one side of the SSD and regulatory certifications logos and barcode on the other.

Weighing 40.8 grams, the SSD is just a tad bit bigger (3.5-inch long) than a credit card and is 10 mm thick, making it extremely compact for everyday use. It can easily fit in the palm of your hand. The product has a high-quality build and according to WD, it can withstand a drop of up to 6.5 feet (1.98 meters). There's a USB Type-C port on one end of the SSD used for connecting to desktops, laptops or even smartphones.

If your PC or Laptop does not support USB Type-C port, then you can use the USB Type-A adapter included inside the box to connect the SSD to your device, which is a great addition by WD.

Overall, I'm impressed with the design and the build of the product, with the only con being lack of LED status indicator.

WD My Passport SSD Port
WD My Passport SSD vs WD My Passport HDD
WD My Passport SSD Size

Features

The WD My Passport SSD comes with WD Discovery software pre-installed, which include WD Backup, WD Security, and WD Drive Utilities applications. The software is compatible with both Windows and Mac operating system and so is the SSD as it is pre-formatted in exFAT file system standard out-of-the-box.

WD Backup is responsible for automatically backing up the files from your PC to the drive. WD Security includes 256-bit AES hardware encryption support, which is said to be the strongest encryption in the market to date with password protection, meaning no one can access the files inside the SSD unless he/she enters the password. The WD Drive Utilities application is used to monitor the health of the drive and optimize it, if necessary.

Also, the SSD was compatible with my Galaxy S8 without the need reformatting it. The drive comes with a 3-year limited warranty too.

Vivo X21, the first smartphone in India with in-display fingerprint scanner launched for Rs. 35,990

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Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Smartphone tech has evolved a lot in the past couple of years. Not only in terms of design, but there's a huge upgrade in terms of security too. Back in 2016, phones were launched with big bezels on the top and below the display and today, the trend is all about including a notch.

Similarly, no one expected phones with a fingerprint scanner until Apple launched the iPhone 5s in 2013 with Touch ID. Since then smartphone companies started focusing more on the security aspect of the device and now we see phones with a dedicated fingerprint scanner, a Face ID, an Iris Scanner, and even software based face unlock.

So, what's next when it comes to security in a smartphone? Phone with an in-display fingerprint scanner? Sounds cool right?

Vivo is the first vendor in the world who has taken an initiative towards launching a phone with an in-display fingerprint scanner, and the first commercially available Vivo smartphone with this tech is the Vivo X21. The Vivo X21 was announced back in March 2018, as a successor to the Vivo X20, in the Vivo's X series of smartphones.

Vivo X21
Today, Vivo has officially announced the launch of the Vivo X21 in India. Priced at Rs. 35,990, the Vivo X21 will be available for purchase online exclusively from Flipkart starting today in Black color. The X21 will also be available from brick-and-mortar stores and Vivo's own e-store.

If you purchase the Vivo X21 from Flipkart you get an extra Rs 3,000 off on exchange price, 5% cashback on SBI credit and debit cards, and No cost EMI on most credit cards as an introductory and exclusive offer. Now, let's talk about the device in detail.

Starting up with the design and build, the Vivo X21 looks exactly similar to the Vivo V9 but has a high-quality build material with 3D glass back cover. On the front is the AMOLED display with a notch on top, and minimal bezel on the bottom. Flipping over we see the dual-camera setup on the left top corner with Vivo branding in the center. Volume and power button sits to the right side of the X21, with a 3.5mm headphone jack on the top edge, and a micro USB port with speaker grills on the bottom.

Talking about the fingerprint scanner, the star of the show, Vivo has included it beneath the display. As you can see in the images, the fingerprint sensor is located on the lower-center of the display, exactly where our thumb rests. The sensors work only in the limited area, which lights up to give you an indication where to rest your finger/thumb for unlocking.

   

Vivo X21 Fingerprint Location
In terms of performance, the fingerprint scanner is pretty good. Setting up a fingerprint is easy by just tapping the limited area of the sensor on the display lightly at first followed by some slightly deeper press. The unlocking takes around a second, which is good in my opinion for the technology. Vivo has announced that it will constantly improve the speed of unlocking with regular updates.

Vivo has also included a face unlock feature for convenience, which according to them 3D maps the face using IR fill light included inside the front-facing camera sensor. Vivo is calling this feature Face Wake 2.0.

You can find the detailed specifications sheet below:

Vivo X21 Specifications

  • 6.28-inch 19:9 Full HD+ Super AMOLED display with 2280x1080 pixels resolution and 402 PPI density, P3Color Gamut Display
  • 2.2GHz 14nm Octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 AI Engine SDM660 processor
  • Adreno 512 GPU | 6 GB RAM
  • Android 8.1 Oreo with Funtouch OS 4.0
  • 12MP primary rear camera with LED flash, f/1.8 aperture, 1/2.5" sensor, 1.4ยตm size, Dual Pixel PDAF, AI Face Beauty, HDR Mode, Shot Re-Focus, 4K UHD Recording, AR Stickers
  • 5MP secondary rear camera with f/2.4 aperture, phase detection autofocus
  • 12MP front-facing camera with f/2.0 aperture
  • 128GB internal memory with up to 256 GB expandable using a microSD card
  • Hybrid Dual SIM (Nano-SIM, dual stand-by)
  • 3200 mAh battery with fast charging (microUSB 2.0)
  • Dimensions: 154.45 x 74.78 x 7.37 mm | Weight: 156.2g
  • 4G VoLTE, WiFi 802.11 ac (2.4GHz + 5GHz) dual-band, WiFi Direct, Bluetooth 5.0 A2DP LE, A-GPS, GLONASS
  • In-display Fingerprint Scanner, Face Unlock, AK4376A Hi-Fi audio chip, Vivo XE710 Hi-Fi Earphone

It's good to see Vivo launch the Vivo X21 in the Indian market. Competing head-to-head with the newly launched OnePlus 6, the Vivo X21 has an upper edge because of the real innovation of an in-display fingerprint scanner when compared to the OnePlus 6 which is more or less the same like its predecessor.

But, in India, the brand value does matter, and OnePlus definitely wins over Vivo. Time will tell whether Vivo was able to beat the OnePlus 6 in terms of sale of the Vivo X21. I will be reviewing the Vivo X21 soon. If you have any questions regarding the device, do let me know in the comment section below.

   

   

Picostone Basic Review: Home Automation Made Easy

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Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Imagine you are on a vacation with family miles away from home and suddenly a day after your neighbor informs you that you have left your hall lights and AC switched on. What will you do now? Rush back home abandoning your trip or let it be and pay the heavy bill the next month.

Now, consider the second situation, you are traveling back home beating the heat and realize that your AC takes around 10-15 minutes to cool the house. That moment you will regret not having an automated smartphone controlled house.

The demand for home automation has increased drastically since past couple of years. But it is still a dream for middle-class users because of the high cost of setup. Though we have many big players in the market, the cost is a way too much to handle.

About Picostone

While searching for some home automation devices in the country, I came across an Indian startup called Picostone with low-cost home automation devices. Started in 2016, Picostone aims at resolving many problems with the current home automation devices in the budget. The company is based in Mumbai and has two major products, the Basic and the Polar.

Picostone Basic is a small wifi based device that fits right behind your switchboard and lets you operate your lights and fans through your phone. Whereas, the Picostone Polar is a small wifi-enabled plug-like device that talks to the IR Stone using Picostone's proprietary RF communication protocol for operating AirCon.

I got hold of the Picostone Basic for a month and here's my in-depth review of the same.

Picostone Basic

Picostone Basic

Picostone Basic is a small rectangular box-like hardware device with Wi-Fi support. It comes with a connector which can accommodate up to 4 switches. The Picostone Basic is sturdy and made of good quality material. The major features of the Picostone Basic are: 

Picostone Basic Features

  • 15 Minutes Installation
  • No Rewiring Required
  • Control From Anywhere
  • Dim Your Devices Using Phone
  • Schedule Appliances On or Off
  • Add Scene To Control Multiple Appliance at a Single Tap
  • Voice Controls using Alexa
  • IFTTT Support
  • Physical Switch Act as Two-way Switch
  • Highly Secured Inter-device Communication
  • Offline Customer Support
  • 2-year Replacement Warranty

Picostone has priced the Basic for Rs. 11,800, which might sound costly, but for the features and support Picostone provides, the pricing is justified. Picostone also has something called as MadSale which happens once every quarter, where the price of Picostone Basic is dropped up to Rs. 3,000 or even less at times, which makes it a steal deal.

The company also offers Effortless Starter Kit for Rs. 10,999 during the sale which includes 1 Polar, 1 Basic and 3 IRIS products. Other kits are... (Note: Kit prices are subject to change on every sale)

Picostone MadSale Kit Offers

Picostone Basic Technical Specifications

  • Input/Output Voltage: 230v/50Hz
  • Power Consumption: 1W
  • Connectivity: 802.11 b/g/n WiFi
  • Input Voltage For Switches: 230v/50Hz
  • Power Per Channel: 220W (Max) 5W (Min) Resistive Load
  • Communication Security: 256-bit AES Encrypted
  • Dimension: 87.75mm x 57 mm x 22.8mm


Installation & Setup

One Picostone Basic device will allow only 4 switches to be automated. The device packaging is very basic and it includes the Basic itself with a connector/socket, fuse, and a 1ft long wire which needs to be cut into 4 pcs for the switches. As the device is very compact, it easily fits inside existing switchboard. The space required is very minimal. No extra wiring or construction work is required to install the Basic.

Picostone How It Works
Picostone Basic: How It Works
After getting the Picostone Basic, you can install it either by calling your own electrician or the one from the company. I selected the latter one. Picostone has partnered with the HouseJoy team for the installation of Picostone Basic across the country. They have well-trained and experienced electricians, and the service cost anywhere between Rs. 250 to Rs. 300. HouseJoy follows up with you twice a week to check if everything is working perfectly.

If you know the basics of electrical engineering, then you can manually install the Basic easily using the installation guide provided by the company inside the packaging. Installing Basic is not a rocket-science, rather a few minutes work. It would be better if you decide the four switches to automate prior the electrician comes.

Picostone Basic
Picostone Basic Socket

Picostone App

After you are done installing the Basic inside the switchboard, the next job is to set the Picostone Basic using the Picostone app. Picostone has included a step by step guide for configuring the Basic inside the box. It took me less than 2 minutes to configure the Picostone Basic with my phone. In case you face any issue with the setup, you can contact the Picostone customer support, as they are very responsive and well-knowledged about the product.

The primary step of setting the Basic is to first enter personal details of home WiFi network inside the Picostone app. Then connect to Picostone WiFi created by the Basic. After that, traverse back to the Picostone app and under Device Configuration click on Configure. This will configure the Picostone Basic with the home WiFi network and now it can be easily used from anywhere, as it is synced with the server and has a dedicated network connection.

Do note that you need not connect to Picostone wifi after the configuration is done, though it will be always shown in your nearby WiFi networks.

                

After the Picostone app is configured with the Picostone Basic, the device is now ready to use. Inside the app, you get the list of all rooms/Picostone devices. Selecting one will show 4 set of switches. You can rename the room name and type by going to individual listing settings. Also, if you want multiple users to get control of that particular room then you can also add users to that room listing.

Long press on any switch will help configure that switch where you can rename the switch and select the switch type as Light, Fan or Motion Sensor. Also, you can select if the switch is dimmable or not to enable the dim setting. Last but not the least is that you can add an auto switch on or off schedules on particular days and at a varying time. There's one more feature called Scene which allows to switch on or off multiple appliances with just a single tap.

                

After using the Picostone Basic for a month I found it very convenient for daily use. The app has become very responsive after the latest update. They have revamped the UI and made is more clean and simple to understand. The device at times face an issue of syncing the speed of the fan if changed manually via a regulator, but it isn't a deal breaker.

Controlling the app using mobile data is not at all a problem, but you need to wait for like 10-20 seconds for the app to get synced with the device at home. All multiple Picostone products can be controlled using one single app. The device comes with voice control feature using Alexa, but I haven't tried it, so I'm not well-aware of the working using voice.

           

Verdict

With Picostone Basic installed in your house, you can easily control any appliance at your fingertips with ease. The best time to buy the Picostone Basic is during the MadSale where you can get it for over 75%  discount, or buy a kit package of your choice.

If you are looking for a cheap and best solution to automate your house, then Picostone has you covered with its offers and support and the product is very well designed for anyone to understand and use. It would be great to see Picostone bring voice support using Google Assistant and Siri for more convenience.

I cannot comment on the long-term performance of the Picostone Basic, but as far as my one-month usage is considered, the Basic definitely gets a ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘Œ.


How to Buy?

Picostone products are only available from official Picostone website. Any Picostone product sold on Amazon or Flipkart or any other e-commerce site (at the time of writing this review) is not officially authorized by Picostone. You can click here to buy Picostone Basic.
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edited with by Aman