Posts Tagged ‘go green’

Upgrade Update: USB 3.0 Yes or No?

Written by mcarberry. Posted in Upgrade Update

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Imagine a world where file portability was ten times better than it is right now; a world where putting an entire collection of movies on a portable hard drive only took a matter of minutes. That time is now, my friends. That world you dream of, it’s a reality thanks to USB 3.0. The newest major revision of the Universal Serial Bus standard is really quite something, but what is all the fuss about? What makes USB 3.0 so much different, and better than 2.0? To start out, it’s way faster. I don’t just mean a little bit faster, or pretty fast. I mean USB 3.0 is incredibly fast. To be exact, it has a transfer speed of up to 5 Gb/s whereas 2.0 only got up to 480 Mbit/s. Not only has the speed been amped up, but the way in which USB will now deliver and receive information has been changed as well. USB 3.0 defines physically separate channels for sent and received information. This creates a two-way street for data to travel so data coming in does not impede data going out. Additionally, USB 3.0 is much more power efficient than its predecessor.

Some things have stayed the same. For instance, the physical size and shape of the port remains the same. This ensures backward compatibility with USB 2.0 revisions. However, upon closer inspection it is revealed that the USB 3.0 port has 5 new pin connectors inside. In addition, because many new computers come with both USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 ports, the new revision has been color coded blue to differentiate (This seems unnecessary as you can use USB 2.0 devices in a USB 3.0 port and even use 3.0 devices with a 2.0 port at lower speeds).

USB 3.0 has been around since late 2009, but initially devices were few and far between. Luckily now flash drives, USB hubs, and external hard drives all come with USB 3.0 compatibility. You can even buy card adapters to install USB 3.0 on your existing computer. Windows 7 comes with the appropriate drivers, so installation and use will be a breeze. So the question remains, “Should you get USB 3.0?” Well, if you don’t mind buying new flash drives and hard drives (all of which can now be purchased at a fairly reasonable price) then yes. Go for it! There’s only one concern that I have with USB 3.0. If you currently own a Mac that isn’t a Mac Pro (You can add USB 3.0 with a PCI Express card), there are two issues. The first issue is that it’s not possible to simply add USB 3.0 to a Mac without hacking it up and taking the whole computer apart. The second issue being that the new Macs are equipped with Thunderbolt connections, which are actually two times faster than USB 3.0. Now, don’t get all huffy yet, and ask me why I’m not writing a blog about Thunderbolt connections. The fact of the matter is that even with Thunderbolt’s amazing speed, it isn’t worth anything because there aren’t many devices available for it. The devices that can be used with Thunderbolt are absurdly expensive (I’m talking $450 starting price. Heck, a 6ft. T-Bolt cable is $50!), and let’s not forget, the technology is for Macs only.

Instead, just grab a USB 3.0 card, and slap it into your PC (they’re only about $30), and enjoy the upgrade. Personally, if you do find yourself transferring massive amounts of data, then go ahead and get it. The cost is minimal for the speeds you’ll be getting out of it. If you don’t have lots of stuff to transfer it’s not a necessary purchase, but it’s a fairly cheap upgrade, and it should stay useful for a very long time.

Happy Earth Day from ScreenTek!

Written by screentekinc. Posted in Go Green!

GREEN_TECH It’s Earth Day! Technology companies and innovators are constantly looking for ways to increase their sustainability and implement environmentally-friendly practices. At ScreenTek we’re big supporters of the green initiative and found Treehugger’s Best of Green 2011 list very interesting. The list features companies excelling in sustainability and incorporates everything from fashion to politics. We’re going to share the top tech winners featured on Treehugger’s list. The list centers on cell phones, gadgets and innovations that not only improve our quality of life but also complement Mother Nature. Many of us are addicted to our cell phones and have a need to stay on trend with the latest and greatest, always upgrading to a new phone. Unfortunately, cell phones don’t rank among the greenest of devices but Samsung is progressively trying to change this fact. Making Treehugger’s list as the Best Cell Phone, The Samsung Restore is affordable at $50, constructed of 84% recyclable materials and it comes with a paper-free virtual users’ manual. As phones become obsolete faster than any other device, it’s good to know Samsung is doing their part to curb environmental impact. Speaking of cell phones, since they go everywhere with us they’re well suited to track pollution and toxin levels which may be detrimental to our health and safety. A group at the University of California in San Diego has invented a silicon chip to do just that! The chip is small enough to be inserted into cell phones and identifies dangerous airborne chemicals and follows up by alerting emergency responders through the cell phone network. This ingenious creation garnered the chip a place on Treehugger’s list as the Best Techy Advancement for the Masses. Although reports have been flying across the Web about Apple being the least green of tech companies due to its use of coal, they’re manufacturing two top-ranking green devices. The iPad was named Best Tablet Device and the MacBook Air was named Best Computer. These devices are made from aluminum and glass making them especially recyclable and the MacBook Air has a noteworthy battery life, requiring less charge time and energy consumption.   We’ve featured Gazelle in a previous blog as a great place to recycle electronics and this year Gazelle made Treehugger’s list as the Best Gadget Resell Company. This website is great for those who are continually upgrading to the latest iPhone, eReader or camera as you can pass along your gadget to another consumer not as concerned with possessing the latest version. If you’re interested in finding more Best of Green: Science and Technology winning companies, check out Treehugger’s list here.
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