We Got Served http://www.wegotserved.com Thu, 26 Feb 2015 14:41:23 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.1.1 Western Digital Announces WD My Cloud Expert and My Cloud Business NAS Series http://www.wegotserved.com/2015/02/26/western-digital-announces-wd-my-cloud-expert-and-my-cloud-business-nas-series/ http://www.wegotserved.com/2015/02/26/western-digital-announces-wd-my-cloud-expert-and-my-cloud-business-nas-series/#comments Thu, 26 Feb 2015 14:19:07 +0000 http://www.wegotserved.com/?p=71234 New two and four bay WD My Cloud Expert and Business servers boost storage specialist's network attached storage offering for prosumers, creative pros and small businesses.

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Western Digital today took the wraps off four new My Cloud NAS products, designed for creative professionals, prosumers and small businesses.

Powered by a choice of a dual-core Marvell Armada or Intel Atom processors, the new lines build on the success of the previously launched My Cloud EX2 and EX4 series with enhanced features and more powerful specifications.

First up, the WD My Cloud Expert series sees two models launched today, the My Cloud Expert EX2100 (two bay, 1 GB RAM) and EX4100 (four bay, 2 GB RAM). The Marvell Armada 385 (1.3 GHz dual-core) and 388 (1.6 GHz dual-core) processors have been selected to power these two new devices, with storage capacities up to 24 TB (when combined with 6 TB WD Red hard drives). Multiple RAID configurations, including RAID 0, 1, 5, 10 and JBOD are available (RAID 0, 1 and JBOD only on the EX2100).

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The Expert range features a variety of standard prosumer features, including centralised backup of Macs and PCs, DLNA/uPnP media streaming, file server, FTP server and download server applications. As with previous EX-class devices, there’s also room for third party apps, including aMule, Icecast, Transmission, DVBlink, SqueezeCenter and more.

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Bridging between the prosumer NAS and WD’s business-class Windows Server lines is the new My Cloud Business Series. Two new Linux NAS devices are targeting small businesses, again in two and four-bay configurations. The new WD My Cloud Business DL2100 pairs a 1.7 GHz “Avoton” Intel Atom C2350 with 1 GB RAM, expandable up to 5 GB. It includes twin Gigabit Ethernet ports alongside a USB 3.0 port for peripheral connection.

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It’s big brother, the four-bay WD My Cloud Business DL4100 is powered by a 1.7 GHz “Rangeley” Intel Atom C2338 processor (the same chip featured in the WD Sentinel DX4200 Storage Server we reviewed last year) and adds a USB 2.0 socket to the port line-up offered by the two-bay model.

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The My Cloud Business Series products supports business-class features including iSCSI target and initiator, replication and file synchronization, integrated FTP, WebDAV server, SSH Shell, and Microsoft Active Directory support. While the drive bays are not lockable, they feature what WD is calling “Easy-Slide-Drive technology”, allowing easily installation or hot-swapping in seconds, without the need for a screwdriver, toolkit or trays.

In terms of pricing, the My Cloud EX2100 NAS will be offered at £239/$249 for the diskless unit, £399/$429 for 4 TB, £539/$559 for 8 TB and £709/$749 for 12 TB.

The My Cloud EX4100 is listed at £359/$399 diskless, £699/$749 for 8 TB, £999/$1,049 for 16 TB and £1,399/$1,449 for 24 TB.

Meanwhile, the My Cloud DL2100 NAS is priced at £329/$349 diskless, £499/$529 for 4 TB, £609/$649 for 8 TB and £829/$849 for 12 TB.

Finally, expect to see the My Cloud DL4100 NAS at £499/$529 for the diskless unit, £799/$879 for 8 TB, £1,099/$1,169 for 16 TB and £1,419/$1,529 for 24 TB.

 

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Review: Roku Streaming Stick http://www.wegotserved.com/2015/02/26/review-roku-streaming-stick/ http://www.wegotserved.com/2015/02/26/review-roku-streaming-stick/#comments Thu, 26 Feb 2015 09:29:25 +0000 http://www.wegotserved.com/?p=71205 As a great-value, high-performing upgrade for your TV the Roku Streaming Stick is hard to beat. Compact, powerful and simple for all the family to use, with a huge range of content on offer, this little streamer packs a hefty punch. Small, mighty and highly recommended.

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For years, media streaming hardware was the territory of the true geek – the enthusiast who would invest heavily (in both time and hard-earned cash) in creating and fine-tuning the perfect setup. The hardware employed was large, expensive, and noisy – a “media center PC” housed in a cupboard next to the big screen, or an expensive AV device with ropey software and limited file format support.

I remember those days fondly but boy am I glad they’ve gone. Those devices have been pushed aside by tiny, HDMI-enabled streaming sticks, the size of a thumb drive, housing more tricks than a magician convention. And they’re everywhere – according to research firm Parks Associates, during the first three-quarters of 2014, 10 percent of US households with a broadband connection bought at least one streaming-media player. Google Chromecast and Amazon Fire Stick are two recent entries into the market, backed by huge advertising spend and retail distribution.

But as streaming options explode, it’s Roku that continues to lead the market. Their £39 Roku Streaming Stick builds on a successful heritage of streaming solutions from years gone by. These small and mighty streamers are selling in their millions, but is the Roku Streaming Stick the one for you? Let’s check it out.

What’s in the Box?

The attractively-branded Roku Streaming Stick box shouts loudly about the streaming services it supports (called “Channels” in Roku-speak). Of course, the list of services differs by region but our UK-spec review unit boasts over 500 channels, including many household names such as Netflix, NOW TV from Sky, BBC iPlayer, YouTube, Plex, Spotify and more.

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The Roku Streaming stick itself is just a little larger than a USB thumb drive, and is designed to plug directly into the HDMI port on your TV, or other compatible AV device. Like other streaming sticks, it needs a power source to operate – the neatest option, if available, is to use a powered USB port on your TV, otherwise a standard power adaptor is included.

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Also included in-box is an RF remote control, different to standard infrared zappers in that no line of sight is required to control the device. It’s not the most luxurious remote you’ll encounter but it’s sturdy enough and feels comfortable in the hand. In today’s app-driven world, it’s good that Roku includes a decent, physical remote – especially for older users – but of course, there’s an iOS or Android app that can also be used to control the device.

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We Got Served is Seeking a UK Product Reviewer http://www.wegotserved.com/2015/02/25/we-got-served-is-seeking-a-uk-product-reviewer/ http://www.wegotserved.com/2015/02/25/we-got-served-is-seeking-a-uk-product-reviewer/#comments Wed, 25 Feb 2015 14:28:50 +0000 http://www.wegotserved.com/?p=71202 With us packing our bags for North America, we need some contributors to come and tell our UK readers about the tech they should be buying! Can you help?

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Logitech Harmony Keyboard

Over the last few years, We Got Served has covered a wide range of tech product news and reviews, ably supported by partnerships with a number of manufacturers and PR agencies from around the world. (No, we don’t buy all of this kit ourselves, we borrow it for a short time to write our review and send it back.)

Regular readers will know that I’m shortly packing up our UK base and relocating to North America, from where We Got Served will continue to be published. Hooray for that! But, we need a small and select number of UK volunteers to write and publish reviews for us over this side of the pond.

Who we need

You may have written your own blog, or written for another publication but what’s clear is that you’re positive and enthusiastic about new technology. We’re not looking for hardcore technical geniuses, but you need to know your way around a computer, router or storage device so you can replicate the style of review we publish here at WGS (examples here).

It’s not a full-time position, (nor is it a paid position) but you’ll be happy to receive products every few weeks and put them through their paces, before writing up your thoughts in a clear, easy to read and engaging style. Some products may be lent out on a long-term loan, others will be on an agreed term before having to be returned (it varies by manufacturer/agency).

In return, you’ll get hands on with the latest kit – sometimes before release to the public – build up your personal profile and connect to our worldwide audience. Previous contributors to WGS have also built up strong relationships with manufacturers and developers, earning NDA briefing status and enrollment in programmes such as Microsoft’s Most Valuable Professional Award.

Importantly, you’re capable and committed to get involved – writing product reviews takes time and energy. Experience you can build up, but if this opportunity doesn’t excite you, please don’t apply! Talking of which…

How to apply

If you’re up for contributing to WGS, then head for the contact form and get in touch by Wednesday March 4th 2015. Tell us a little about yourself, how you use technology in your home and/business, the types of technology that really get you excited and what you can bring to We Got Served.

 

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How To: Manage PCs and Mobiles With Microsoft Intune (Part 6) http://www.wegotserved.com/2015/02/24/how-to-manage-pcs-and-mobiles-with-microsoft-intune-part-6/ http://www.wegotserved.com/2015/02/24/how-to-manage-pcs-and-mobiles-with-microsoft-intune-part-6/#comments Tue, 24 Feb 2015 10:04:20 +0000 http://www.wegotserved.com/?p=71169 In part six of our deep dive into Microsoft Intune, we take a look at configuring Windows PC updates using the cloud-hosted management platform.

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In the last part of How To: Manage PCs and Mobiles With Microsoft Intune we investigated the protection of Windows PCs with Endpoint Protection & Windows Firewall. Now we’ll look at configuring Windows PC updates using Microsoft Intune policies. 

Configure PC Settings With Microsoft Intune Policies

Now that you have experience configuring Endpoint Protection settings using Microsoft Intune templates and policies, you’re free to explore other templates available to help you configure your PCs remotely.

Click on the Policy icon in the Microsoft Intune administration portal to view your options.

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You start off, once again, in the Overview section, which provides a little background on how templates and policies are used to manage client PC configuration. A menu allows you to navigate between the various areas of Microsoft Intune Policy management. Policy Conflicts will mostly remain unpopulated, but if you experience any conflict errors between your local clients and Intune configuration settings when deploying a policy, they’ll be reported here.

Configuration Policies and Compliance Policies hold lists of your pre-configured policies, which can be edited and redeployed as you wish. The Endpoint Protection policy we just created can be found in Configuration Policies (so named because the policy alters the configuration of one or more client PCs). Compliance Policies do not change configuration, but are rules that govern which users and devices can access specific applications, services and features on your client PCs.

The Conditional Access section is used to restrict access to Microsoft Exchange Online and Exchange On-Premises, based on certain conditions you specify.

Finally, Device Enrollment Profiles are used to configure devices during enrollment. They can be used to initialise a device with links to a user and a device group.

Over on the right of the Policy Overview page, the Tasks list allows you to Add (a) Policy, View Policies previously created and view a report of Non-compliant apps (i.e. unapproved applications that have been installed on devices managed by Microsoft Intune).

As before, click Add Policy to view the list of templates available for mobile devices and PCs.

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Simply use the arrows next to each template category to drill-down into the list of templates and proceed as you did when creating the Endpoint Protection policy.

Alternatively, you can visit the Configuration Policies or Compliance Policies sections and use the Add command to build a policy from scratch – again, based on standard template of settings. Here’s how policy creation looks when adding a Compliance Policy.

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As you can see, Compliance Policies are used to manage security settings such as password policies, encryption settings, jailbreak detection and approval for rooted devices and mobile email compliance. At the time of writing, the policies templates provided by Microsoft are more focused on mobile device management and Microsoft Intune configuration than general Windows settings for PCs, but as time ticks on I’m sure will see an expanding suite of policy templates made available which cover a greater range of device settings.

Managing Device Updates in Microsoft Intune

Another important area of device management supported by Microsoft Intune is Updates. Keeping your devices patched with the latest operating system updates is vital for secure and smooth running of your local network – whether you’re managing just a handful of PCs and mobiles, hundreds of devices or even thousands!

Using Microsoft Intune’s update monitoring and management features, you can easily identify PCs that are missing updates, identify updates that are required by your devices, view more information about updates that are available for your devices and approve or decline updates centrally.

Before we check out the Microsoft Intune Updates section itself, we’ll need to create a policy for our client PCs that will configure when and how updates are installed. To do so, let’s head to the Policy section. In the Policy Overview screen, click Add Policy – you’ll find it in the Tasks list.

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We’ll be creating and deploying a Microsoft Intune Agent Settings policy for the update settings. You’ll find it in the Computer Management templates.

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Review: Thecus W4000 Windows NAS Server http://www.wegotserved.com/2015/02/20/review-thecus-w4000-windows-nas-server/ http://www.wegotserved.com/2015/02/20/review-thecus-w4000-windows-nas-server/#comments Fri, 20 Feb 2015 09:25:23 +0000 http://www.wegotserved.com/?p=71140 A fantastic concept, frustratingly let down by a weak specification, the W4000 isn't the successful debut Windows NAS that either Thecus or Microsoft were looking for. The proposition appeals, but be sure to invest in additional RAM to make the W4000 at all usable.

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Life used to be a lot simpler, didn’t it? Take servers and storage for instance… you’d either be a Linux NAS guy, or you’d be a Windows Server guy. You’d have Linux NAS manufacturers, with their low-cost, frugal system-on-chips and you’d have Windows Server manufacturers, toting beefy Intel processors and more RAM than an Australian sheep farm.

Recently, it’s all got a little blurry.

Intel, always keen to spot a market opportunity, crept into the Linux NAS territory – first with humble Intel Atom-based platforms and more recently, with Celeron, Core i3 and i5-powered hardware. But the Linux NAS manufacturers left Windows servers to the likes of HP and Dell. Until now.

Last year, Thecus quietly announced their W NAS series for small business – three Windows Embedded branded models that would run a tailored edition of Windows Server known as (take a breath) Windows Storage Server 2012 R2 Essentials. The entry level device, the W2000 is a two-bay model, powered by a 1.86 GHz Intel Atom D2550. At the top of the range, the W5000 is a five bay NAS, with a 2.13 GHz Intel Atom D2701 serving as the engine. That same processor ships in our review model, the mid-range W4000, which is a four-bay device offering a total capacity of 24 TB.

The W4000 ships in a heavily branded box that shouts much about Microsoft than it does about Thecus – indeed, at first glance, you’d believe that Microsoft was the OEM rather than their hardware partner.

The W Series hardware is “borrowed” from the Thecus N Series (in the shape of the N2800, N4800Eco and N5550 respectively) so aside from the branding, the key difference in the W Series is, of course, the operating system platform. Thecus therefore should be applauded for offering customers a choice of platforms.

At $449/£389 diskless, the Thecus W4000 is positioned as a value Windows Storage Server NAS. To compare it with competitors, an 8 TB Western Digital DX4200 Storage Server is currently priced at £1177 here in the UK while a Thecus W4000 NAS offering the same capacity (in fact, the same WD Red hard drives) will cost you just £736. While the two products offer slightly different versions of the Windows Storage Server platform (more on that shortly) they are, in essence, competitors from a functionality perspective.

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From a hardware standpoint, the W4000’s chassis is reasonable but feels a little cheaper than other NAS devices I’ve reviewed at this price point. Aesthetically, the device looks okay, but give the drive bay door a wiggle and it feels a little loose and the top panel, which looks like it should house an LCD display with controls mounted below, actually doesn’t. Cost engineering in action, clearly, but if it helps deliver a lower price point, that’ll be just fine for many customers.

The good news is the W4000 includes four lockable drive trays, helping secure your data, and the trays themselves are far more robust than you’ll find in hardware lower down the Thecus range.

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On the front face of the W4000, Thecus has chosen an illuminated panel to provide hard drive and network status – a change from the usual LEDs you’ll find on other hardware and there are also two conveniently-positioned USB 3.0 ports allowing easy connection of USB storage drives and other peripherals.

Around the back, you’ll find two Gigabit Ethernet ports, two USB 2.0 ports, a single eSATA connection for storage expansion as well as VGA and HDMI connectors. A large (and reasonably whiny) fan cools the four drive bays – noise output was more than I’d like from a server. You’ll find it distracting if your working nearby but aside from that niggle, the W4000 offers a decent port line-up that delivers all the connectivity a small business needs from a storage server in 2015.

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Inside, the Intel Atom D2701 is a dual-core embedded CPU (i.e. it is soldered to the motherboard and therefore not upgradable) clocked at 2.13 GHz. Thecus pairs the processor with 2 GB RAM, which is a decent amount for most NAS devices but let’s remember that the W4000 is running Windows which traditionally requires more horse power than a Linux-based OS. We’ll see later how Windows performs with this specification.

An internal solid state drive, in this case a 64 GB ADATA SP600 SSD, serves as the boot drive – and innovative move. Unlike competitor devices, there’s no second drive to mirror that boot volume, but it means that Windows starts up very quickly from cold.

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Review: ASUSTOR AS-5104T NAS http://www.wegotserved.com/2015/02/17/review-asustor-5104t-nas/ http://www.wegotserved.com/2015/02/17/review-asustor-5104t-nas/#comments Tue, 17 Feb 2015 11:59:57 +0000 http://www.wegotserved.com/?p=71119 The ASUSTOR AS-5104T is a powerful NAS solution for advanced home or business users seeking high-capacity storage, a wide array of features and lightning-fast performance. Highly recommended.

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The ASUSTOR AS-5104T NAS is very closely related to the AS-5004T model I reviewed at the beginning of the month. As the two models share much in common – both in terms of aesthetics and features – I’ll ensure I don’t duplicate the review, but do check out the AS-5004T review for a full run down of features.

I was keen to try out two models in ASUSTOR’s new 5 Series range to help clarify performance differences in between two such similar looking NAS devices. From a specification point of view, ASUSTOR target the AS-5004T at home users, whereas today’s subject, the AS-5104T is positioned for small business.

That difference is reflected in the price you’ll pay for either model, with the AS-5004T available from £330/$465 online and it’s bigger brother, the AS-5104T priced at £424/$529. In truth, it’s not a huge leap, so what do you get for the extra money? And, is it worth plumping for the AS-5104T over the cheaper model?

That’s what we’ll find out today.

Specifications

While we have been sent four-bay models by ASUSTOR, both the 50 and 51 NAS series are available with bay counts running from two to ten (although six bay models are skipped). The AS-5104T is build around a quad-core Intel Celeron J1900 2.0 GHz processor (with burst speed up to 2.41 GHz), with 2 GB RAM in support. In contrast, the AS-5004T is powered by a dual-core Intel Celeron J1800 2.41 GHz processor (burst speed is 2.58 GHz) with just 1 GB RAM available in box. The business-class AS-5104T also includes an LCD display panel and lockable drive trays but otherwise, the specifications of the two models are identical.

That means the more expensive model has a processor with more cores, but a slower clock speed, with more RAM available. That should make for slightly better performance, but let’s see just how much.

What’s in the Box?

Open up the ASUSTOR AS-5104T box and you’ll dig out:

  • ASUSTOR AS5104T NAS Server
  • Installation CD
  • AC Power Cord & Adaptor
  • 2 x Ethernet Cables
  • 16 x Flat Head Screw (for 3.5″ HDD)
  • 16 x Flat Head Screw (for 2.5″ HDD)

As you can see from the box contents, the AS-5104T can be stocked with 3.5″ or 2.5″ hard drives or solid state drives. The standard model, like most NAS devices, ships without disks but you’ll find online retailers making bundles available with hard drives. With support for 6TB hard drives, you can reach storage capacities up to 24 TB, depending on the RAID configuration selected. I tested the AS-5104T with our usual two Western Digital WD Red 6 TB hard drives, in a RAID 1 configuration.

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As mentioned, the AS-5104T’s high quality chassis offers two key upgrades from the AS-5004T. An LCD display panel is fitted with controls to allow light monitoring of the NAS alongside access to some basic features. They include a handy option to initialise the NAS with a default configuration once your drives are installed. The addition of the LCD panel provides a certain amount of convenience, but unless you’re visiting the hardware frequently, isn’t a must have.

The second enhancement is perhaps of greater value – especially to business owners. Unlike the AS-5004T, this model is equipped with lockable drive trays, which are designed to prevent users removing drives accidentally during operation. Rather than fit key locks, however, ASUSTOR has opted for a new tray lock design which simply uses a flat-headed screwdriver to turn. Convenient on the one hand (especially for those who have lost drive tray keys in the past!) but not exactly secure on the other. I’m not convinced ASUSTOR made the right choice here for business owners, but at least there’s token drive tray protection.

In terms of connectivity, you’ll find a convenient USB 3.0 port on the front of the device with a One-Touch Backup button that can be used to quickly extract the contents of an attached storage drive to your NAS. Flip the device around, and there’s a further two USB 3.0 ports, two USB 2.0 ports, twin Gigabit Ethernet sockets (allowing link aggregation) and two eSATA ports for storage expansion. For entertainment, a HSMI 1.4a socket allows direct connection to the big screen, or a projector, with 1080p high-resolution output (you’ll need to look at the 7 series for 4K support) and there’s an S/PDIF optical audio port delivering 5.1/7.1 surround sound.

Setting Up the ASUSTOR AS-5104T

Download and install the ASUSTOR Control Center software on a PC or MAC, and your NAS will be found on the network quickly. A configuration wizard allows you to set up the device to your preference or you can opt for a one-click setup which configures the NAS with default settings.

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Alternatively, you can initialise the NAS using the front panel controls, a step I took this time around. Configuration was quick and convenient – the NAS was ready for action in a couple of minutes.

Of course, depending on your choice of RAID configuration and drives fitted, the AS-5104 will need some time to synchronise the array. It does this as a background task over the first few hours of operation, so you can continue to use the NAS without any issues, but file transfer performance will be a little slower than optimal during sync.

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Review: Linksys XAC1900 Dual Band Smart Wi-Fi Modem Router http://www.wegotserved.com/2015/02/16/review-linksys-xac1900-dual-band-smart-wi-fi-modem-router/ http://www.wegotserved.com/2015/02/16/review-linksys-xac1900-dual-band-smart-wi-fi-modem-router/#comments Mon, 16 Feb 2015 13:43:20 +0000 http://www.wegotserved.com/?p=71032 The new Linksys XAC1900 Dual Band Smart Wi-Fi Modem Router promises high speeds and convenient management for ADSL users seeking faster home networks - but only partially delivers.

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If you’re an ADSL Internet user, as many of us are here in the UK, you may have been watching the recent explosion in AC Wi-Fi speeds with some jealousy. While we’ve seen a swathe of AC routers launched into the market over the last eighteen months, they’ve mostly lacked the integrated modem needed to connect to an ADSL network.

Of course, the option has always been available to cast aside the convenience of dual-function ADSL Modem Routers, purchase a standalone ADSL router (if you can still find one on the market today) and jump in to the AC Router revolution – indeed, that’s what I do here at home, courtesy of a trusty Draylink Vigor 120 Modem. But, it means finding a modem that works in bridge mode (passing the IP address to the router), plus installing and managing two devices rather than one. In these heady days of convergence, who wants to diverge?

So, when Linksys announced the XAC1900 Dual Band Smart Wi-Fi Modem Router, it sounded like those integrated ADSL/Router chipsets had at last hit the market place. But perhaps not all is as it seems…

The Linksys XAC1900 Dual Band Smart Wi-Fi Modem Router, as its name suggests is a dual-band router that connects on both the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands – depending on the network congestion in your local neighbourhood, 5 GHz connections provide faster throughput for modern devices that support the frequency, albeit with a shorter connection range. Like it’s AC1900 competitors, the XAC1900 offers simultaneous dual-band speeds rated up to 600 Mbps (2.4GHz) and 1300 Mpbs (5GHz) bands, but obviously your network devices will need to be rated similarly to connect at the fastest speeds.

At £199, the Linksys XAC1900 is most definitely a premium device, but offers home ADSL users the convenience of a combined modem/router solution with speedy wired and wireless connections – let’s open it up and take it for a spin.

What’s in the Box?

When our XAC1900 review unit arrived, I was surprised to see that it ships in a reasonably large box. Styled in a similar fashion to the older EA generation of Linksys routers, I was expecting a more compact package. Now it’s rare that opening up a router box presents a surprise, but the XAC1900 holds a little more inside than you’d expect from the packshot on the box.

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Opening the package, I immediately noticed a large, second black box sitting next to the router. At first, I thought it was a massive power brick, but then it dawned on me why the Linksys XAC1900 Dual Band Smart Wi-Fi Modem Router ships in such a large box.

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It’s because it’s not an integrated Modem/Router at all. It’s a modem plus a router.

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I double checked the packaging – just to be sure. It clearly states that the modem is “Built-In”:

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How To: Manage PCs and Mobiles With Microsoft Intune (Part 5) http://www.wegotserved.com/2015/02/13/manage-pcs-mobiles-microsoft-intune-part-5/ http://www.wegotserved.com/2015/02/13/manage-pcs-mobiles-microsoft-intune-part-5/#comments Fri, 13 Feb 2015 08:14:16 +0000 http://www.wegotserved.com/?p=71054 In the latest part of our guide to Windows Intune, we guide you through protecting Windows PCs with Endpoint Protection & Windows Firewall.

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manage-pcs-mobiles-microsoft-intune

In the last part of How To: Manage PCs and Mobiles With Microsoft Intune we added device and user groups to our Intune account which makes security and policy configuration deployment a cinch. This time, we’ll guide you through protecting Windows PCs with Endpoint Protection & Windows Firewall.

You can purchase the full 225 page edition of this guide (in PDF, ePub and Mobi formats) over at WGS Store for just £2.99.

Protect Your Windows PCs With Endpoint Protection & Windows Firewall

Now that we’ve created a device group for our Windows PCs, it’s a good time to talk about the malware protection that is provided with Microsoft Intune – they call this feature Endpoint Protection. It’s one of a number of features that combine in Microsoft’s cloud-based management service to protect your computers from online risks.

Endpoint Protection keeps your PCs safe from threats like viruses, trojan horses and spyware via a regularly updated client that runs on each of your connected PCs. Malware definitions are automatically kept up-to date to support the Endpoint Protection client that automatically scans computers, monitors incoming and outgoing traffic and provides tools to remove malware if it is located amongst your files and folders.

The second tool in our armoury is the good old Windows Firewall. You may have used Windows Firewall from time to time previously – perhaps to ensure that applications aren’t blocked from working correctly.

Microsoft Intune is equipped to help you define security policies and issue them directly to computers on your network – individually, for specific device groups or across all computers. A big time saver when it comes to managing security on multiple PCs.

The third and final element of Microsoft Intune’s protection suite is, of course, Software Updates. I still find it incredible just how many security patches are released for Windows on a monthly basis. Keeping your PCs regularly updated is essential to protect the data stored on them. As you’ve seen already, Microsoft Intune includes monitoring, reporting and deployment tools to allow you to manage your computer updates centrally.

While it’s possible to run Microsoft Intune’s Endpoint Protection on a computer that already has anti-malware software installed, it’s not recommended. Best practice suggests that you should decide on a single application to protect your computers from malware – so by default, when you install the Microsoft Intune client on your computers, if they’re already running an anti-malware app, Endpoint Protection won’t be installed.

Let’s take a look at the Endpoint Protection client running on one of our connected PCs.

The Microsoft Intune Endpoint Protection Client

Head to your Windows System Tray and look for a green icon a white shield. That’s the Microsoft Intune Endpoint Protection client. Keep an eye on the System Tray on an ongoing basis, as the Windows Action Center will let you know of any relevant actions you need to take to keep your PC protected – for example, if malware definition updates are available.

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Double click the icon to open up the client’s window.

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The user interface will be familiar to those of you who may have used a Microsoft anti-virus app previously, such as Windows Defender. Indeed, the protection offered by Microsoft Intune Endpoint Protection is very similar (if not identical) to Windows Defender, but obviously includes centralised reporting and management, which is conducted in the Windows Intune administration portal.

Before we head there, let’s quickly run through the Endpoint Protection client to ensure you’re familiar. As you can see from the screenshot above, colour is used to denote current protection status – green is good, amber less so and red denotes a problem you’ll need to tackle.

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The Endpoint Protection icon itself follows a similar rule, turning red if an important issue needs your attention.

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The Home tab, one of four available to select, shows your current protection status at a glance. On the right hand side of the window, you can initiate a manual scan – Quick, Full or Custom. At the bottom, click Change my scan schedule to amend the client’s automatic scanning settings. By default, a daily scan of your PC is conducted at 02:00, when the PC is not likely to be in use (virus scanning can slow the PC down a little).

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Amending the scan settings takes place in the Settings tab. You can alter the Scan type from Quick to Full, switch from a daily scan to a weekly run, with the ability to select the day of the week the scan should be conducted and change the time of the scan.

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Review: QNAP TS-653 Pro NAS Server http://www.wegotserved.com/2015/02/11/review-qnap-ts-653-pro/ http://www.wegotserved.com/2015/02/11/review-qnap-ts-653-pro/#comments Wed, 11 Feb 2015 11:26:24 +0000 http://www.wegotserved.com/?p=70978 With the power to handle advanced media transcoding and a wide range of features to make office integration a cinch, the QNAP TS-653 Pro is a capable NAS server that will serve home or business users equally well for years to come.

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Nestling in the middle of QNAP’s range of network attached storage servers, the six-bay TS-653 Pro is designed to be equally adept at supporting home or small business users.

It’s one of a new generation of high-powered NAS devices, running a quad-core Intel Celeron J1900 2.0 GHz processor, paired with your choice of 2 GB or 8 GB RAM. Those opting for the lower RAM can upgrade to the maximum at a later date, but unlike higher specification models, the TS-653 Pro is capped at 8 GB. Our review model is the TS-653-8G model, with the full 8GB RAM fitted across twin slots.

With support for the latest 6 TB NAS hard drives, the QNAP TS-653 Pro supports up to 36 TB capacity across its six bays, with the usual wide choice of RAID configurations. Single Disk, JBOD, RAID 0, 1, 5, 6, 10, 5/6/10 + hot spares are all available (based on the number of hard drives installed) – that’s an incredible amount of storage that should be sufficient for consumers and business owners for years to come.

But with a glut of new network attached storage servers hitting the market in early 2015, what makes the QNAP TS-653 Pro stand out and will it be the right server for you? Let’s find out!

What’s in the Box?

Crack open the QNAP box and you’ll find everything you need to get up and running quickly. The package includes:

  • TS-653 Pro
  • Ethernet cable x 2
  • Quick installation guide
  • Flat head screw x 24 (for 3.5″ HDD)
  • Flat head screw x 16 (for 2.5″ HDD)
  • Power cord
  • Hard disk tray key

Unlike the fully consumer-focused QNAP TS-451 we reviewed last year, the TS-653 Pro is dressed for business, with the usual high-quality chassis, lockable drive trays and LED display we’ve raved about in previous reviews. The chassis is reasonably large – this is a six-bay device, remember, and those hard drives have to go somewhere but with a neatly integrated power supply, the TS-653 minimises desk space requirements.

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I’ve been a long-standing advocate of QNAP’s high-quality business chassis and the TS-653 Pro is no exception. It’s plain, understated and that’s all you want from a network attached storage server. The six bays, with status indicators, are joined by a blue LED display panel which remains a luxury but can be used for light monitoring and status reporting when you’re near the device. Add LED indicators for NAS status, USB and LAN access, plus power and a one-touch backup button (wrapping around a convenient, front-facing USB 3.0 port) and it’s so far, so familiar for the TS-653 Pro.

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Around the back, twin 90mm fans are employed to cool the six drive bays plus an additional, smaller spinner for the integrated PSU. Despite the presence of three fans, the TS-653 Pro utters only a whisper.

In terms of connections, the TS-653 Pro continues the trend for NAS servers to come equipped with HDMI (1.4a for those counting), allowing the device to be connected directly to a projector, monitor or TV. QNAP’s latest software release includes a feature whereby the NAS can be configured out of the box when connected to a display, without the need for a network connection.

A mighty four Gigabit RJ-45 Ethernet ports are fitted, facilitating network link aggregation and failover – that’s two more than you’ll find on most NAS devices and perhaps two more than is strictly necessary, but they’re available if required. The line-up continues with two USB 2.0 and higher-speed USB 3.0 ports for peripheral connection. Add a reset button and a Kensington lock to tether the device to a desk and you’ve got yourself a well-connected, great looking package.

Installing the QNAP TS-653 Pro

QNAP continues to refine its installation and out of box configuration experience, which is now simpler than ever. Once powered on, a small client app (QFinder) locates the device on the network and launches a fully browser-based installation wizard. New to the QNAP range is an option for users to select whether they’re a home or business user, which provides a tailored configuration suggestion which can then be tweaked for preference.

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Sony 2015 Preview (Part 3): Hi-Res Audio and Headphones http://www.wegotserved.com/2015/02/06/sony-2015-preview-part-3-hi-res-audio-headphones/ http://www.wegotserved.com/2015/02/06/sony-2015-preview-part-3-hi-res-audio-headphones/#comments Fri, 06 Feb 2015 14:05:22 +0000 http://www.wegotserved.com/?p=70964 In the final part of our visit to Sony Europe HQ, we got ears-on with the latest wireless speakers, premium headphones and Hi-Res music players that are hitting the streets later in the year.

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In the last part of our Sony 2015 Preview, I covered the new 4K Cameras, Handycams and Action Cams set to hit the market in 2015. That demonstration finished all too soon and it was time to enter the final room at Sony Europe HQ, where a swathe of home audio products were waiting to be tested.

As you’ll no doubt be aware, the big push from the Japanese electronics giant in 2014 and into this year is Hi-Res Audio and it was no surprise to see a wide range of devices – speakers, headphones and dedicated music players all supporting the standard.

At CES 2015, there was a lot of cooing over the new High Resolution NW-ZX2 Walkman player – it supports digital music files up to 192 kHz/24 bit in MP3, WMA, AAC, FLAC, AIFF, WAV and ALAC including DSD. While the prospect of returning to dedicated music players may seem strange to many in these days of convergence, there are ardent audio enthusiasts out there who are more than happy to pay the high ticket price (£950) of the NW-ZX2 to enjoy their music.

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The premium player also supports Sony’s recently announced LDAC codec which, according to the company, transmits data three times more efficiently than Bluetooth, resulting in less compression over wireless connections and in turn, better sound quality.

The NW-ZX2 demo device was paired with the most beautiful Hi-Res audio speakers and I was excited to hear how this most premium of audio combos could move me. Sadly, I have to admit that my expectations weren’t fulfilled. There was no doubt that the results sounded great, but sufficiently great to justify the price point? Not in my opinion, but it’s a subjective opinion, of course. Those with the desire and funds to purchase the best audio that Sony has to offer will no doubt love the NW-ZX2, but at the moment, I’m not there.

The £600 Sony SRS-X9 Wireless Speaker isn’t a new model for 2015, but was on show in the demo room and remains a personal favourite. Only the fact that I’ve been collecting various Sonos multi-room speakers over the last few years has kept me from purchasing the SRS-X9. It’s a reasonably compact 2.1 device comprising seven drivers, each with a dedicated digital amplifier.

Pair the speaker with your phone or tablet over NFC, Bluetooth or AirPlay, opt for a traditional wired connection, or hook it up to the network and stream via DLNA – there’s going to be a connection for you. The SRS-X9’s 154W output impresses with deep, precise bass and spacious sound, delivering balanced audio across a range of music styles with ease. Better still, you can throw a wide range of music formats at it – FLAC, MP3, AAC, WMA, WAV, AIFF and DSD are all supported out of the box.

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At £600, the SRS-X9 is a premium line clearly targeted at audiophiles – but the wireless speaker range has been extended to those on a budget too. At the opposite end of the range, the £30 Sony SRS-X1 Portable Wireless Speaker is a cute, portable Bluetooth/NFC speaker in a spherical form that packs a bigger punch than you’d expect from such a small device. It’s rated at 5W and cab be paired with a second SRS-X1 to create a wider, stereo soundstage. It’s water-resistant too, so you can take it out and about without the worry of being caught in the rain.

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The Bluetooth and NFC theme continued into a preview of Sony’s new headphone range. Having owned a pair of Sony MDR-1BT headphones for the last couple of years (see my review) I was delighted to see an update arrive this year.

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Review: CalDigit T4 Quad Bay RAID 5 Storage http://www.wegotserved.com/2015/02/05/review-caldigit-t4-quad-bay-raid-5-storage/ http://www.wegotserved.com/2015/02/05/review-caldigit-t4-quad-bay-raid-5-storage/#comments Thu, 05 Feb 2015 17:10:13 +0000 http://www.wegotserved.com/?p=70941 I reviewed the three-bay CalDigit T3 storage enclosure back in December, and loved its high quality build, sleek lines and powerful performance. That device offered ...

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CalDigit-T4

I reviewed the three-bay CalDigit T3 storage enclosure back in December, and loved its high quality build, sleek lines and powerful performance. That device offered 9 TB storage with a small variety of RAID configurations. If you’re a creative professional looking for something with more capacity, or if you really want a RAID 5 array then CalDigit has their T4 Quad Bay RAID 5 Storage device to offer you.

Like it’s smaller brother, the T4 is predominately designed for Apple Mac users, connecting to modern Macs courtesy of its dual Thunderbolt 2 ports, delivering theoretical transfer rates up to 20 GB/s.

From a RAID perspective, the four bays allow the CalDigit T4 to offer RAID 5 (with single disk redundancy) alongside the same JBOD, RAID 0 and RAID 1 configurations on the T3. All of the drive bays are hot swappable and the T4 also features automatic disk failure detection to ensure you’re alerted as soon as a problem is spotted.

As we often find with Mac Thunderbolt storage lines, the CalDigit T4 is priced at a reasonable premium, with a 4 TB version weighing in at $899/£671, 8 TB at $1199/£898, 12 TB at $1399/£1043, 16 TB at $1699/£1271 at at the top of the range, a 20 TB derivative priced at $1999/£1486. Our review model is the 12 TB version.

Both 3.5″ and 2.5″ traditional hard drives as well as SSDs are compatible with the CalDigit T4, so whether you need high capacity or high performance there’s an option for you. Opt for the 4TB SSD array and you’ll get a penny change from your $3300/£2495, but for that price you can expect blistering pace – CalDigit quotes file transfer speeds of 1,370 MB/s for their SSD array.

What’s in the Box?

Open up the white and orange box and you’ll pull out:

  • 1 x CalDigit T4
  • 4 x Drive Modules
  • 1 x AC Adapter
  • 1 x AC Power Cord
  • 2 x Drive Bay Keys
  • 1 x CD with CalDigit Drive Utility Software & Manual

No Thunderbolt cable is supplied with the T4, so you’ll need to provide your own – a miss for a premium device.

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The CalDigit T4 is presented with the same rugged good looks at the T3. Clad in die-cast aluminum, the T4 may well be compact (Height: 5.8 inches (148 mm), Width: 5.3 inches (135 mm), Depth: 9.5 inches (242 mm)) but it has a heft when fully loaded (12.5 lb/ 5.7 kg)

The front of the device is plain and understated, with four lockable drive trays to keep your data secure. Two keys are supplied, one to unlock the bay and a second that pokes into a tiny hole to release the latch. Drive access indicators at the bottom of the T4 are strangely labelled A0-A3 (you’l think 1-4 would be more clear) with blue LEDs shining out when the device is powered on.

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The rear of the device is obviously dominated by a large exhaust fan (which remains quiet in use). Other than the power socket, you’ll find the twin Thunderbolt sockets and a Kensington lock. All very simple.

Just one minor point detracts from the T4’s aesthetics – the power brick that ships with the device is reasonably large, so make sure you have somewhere to hide it.

Setting up the CalDigit T4 is very easy indeed. Connect a Thunderbolt cable between your Mac and the device, plug it into the mains and power on. Your new storage device won’t be detected until your install and run the accompanying CalDigit RAID Utility. You can also download the software from the company’s website, which includes the management utility along with the drivers needed to ensure your T4 plays nicely with your Mac.

Once installed, reboot your Mac and you’re ready to go.

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The CalDigit Utility is a one-stop shop for managing the T4. You can view volume capacity, disk health and temperatures, change your RAID configuration, manage notifications and benchmark the array.

Talking of which, I benchmarked disk speeds in both RAID 5 and RAID 0 configurations. As you’d expect, RAID 5 performance was slower than RAID 0, at 553 MB/s read and 496.9 MB/s write – a little behind CalDigit’s own published results for write speeds which claim 550 MB/s.

In RAID 0, performance was well behind CalDigit’s benchmarks, which claim read/write speeds of 750 MB/s. In my test, I experienced speeds of 605.1 MB/s (read) and 647.6 MB/s (write) respectively. Whether there was a specific issue with the review unit, or my Mac I don’t know, but in either configuration, the speeds I saw were perfectly fast enough for 4K video editing.

DiskSpeedTest

 

Summary

The CalDigit T4 is a well-built, attractively designed and high performing storage array, for those who are happy to pay a premium price. It’ll look great next to your Mac and is fast enough to support creative editing of any kind with high bandwidth requirements.

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Sony 2015 Preview (Part 2): Cameras and Digital Imaging http://www.wegotserved.com/2015/02/05/sony-2015-preview-part-2-cameras-digital-imaging/ http://www.wegotserved.com/2015/02/05/sony-2015-preview-part-2-cameras-digital-imaging/#comments Thu, 05 Feb 2015 10:45:09 +0000 http://www.wegotserved.com/?p=70931 This week, we were invited by Sony to check out their new range of products hitting the market in 2015. In the second part of our feature, we get snapping with a look at digital imaging.

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In the first part of our Sony 2015 Preview, we walked through the upcoming range of BRAVIA TVs and accessories that will be hitting the market later this year. Following a great set of presentations from Sony’s TV Product Managers, it was time to move on to “Digital Imaging” – cameras and camcorders to you and me.

Now, I don’t profess to be an expert in this field – I love a good photo as much as the next guy, and I spend an inordinate amount of time trying to take good photos when I’m out and about, so I was keen to learn what Sony had to offer.

Two Sony Product Managers brought the range to life brilliantly, with a creative demonstration of features and performance that left many of us thinking seriously about our next camera purchase.

On the video side, as you’d expect, 4K was a major theme with Sony’s new FDR-AX33 Handycam offering 4K 100Mbps high-bitrate recording and image stabilisation in a chassis that’s 30% smaller and 20% lighter than the current FDR-AX100 4K model on the market today.

To bring to life just how quickly 4K Handycam form factors are reducing, we were shown the 2013 4K model, alongside the 2014 and new 2015 devices.  If you purchased a 2013 4K Handycam in 2013, it would look something like this:

Sony Handycam_ FDR-AX1 4K Camcorder (4)

“Weird dad” territory indeed. Press fast forward to 2015 and the new FDR-AX33 is an altogether more compact proposition:

FDR-AX33

 

One particularly innovative feature of the FDR-AX33, available on other models in the range too, is Balanced Optical Steadyshot which mounts the lens and sensor module within a gyroscope. The gyroscope is able to detect the motion created from walking or running with the Handycam and allows the lens to “float” accordingly, therefore balancing what would otherwise be a very shaky clip indeed.

On selected models such as the Handycam HDR-PJ670, Sony are also introducing built-in projectors for immediate playback of content you’ve captured. You can also input other feeds via HDMI to display TV or output from a smartphone or tablet using a MHL connector.

A range of Action Cams – the darling of adrenalin junkies, hairy truckers and stalkers the world over, were also on show. Again, models such as the diminutive FDR-X1000VR were packing 4K and 100Mbps high-bitrate recording, with a wide 170° field of view (down to 120° with stabilisation switched on).

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Equipped with GPS and mounted via a wide range of accessories fitting dashboard, surfboards, bikes and various bodily appendages you can track your movements, replay those crazy exploits and share your adventures easily with friends and followers.

X100V_main1-1200Still camera demonstrations were even more impressive. While many of us are happy to snap away with the convenience of a smartphone (or weirdly, with a giant tablet) the Sony team stressed the benefits of using dedicated devices with larger sensors. Restricted by the need for compact dimensions, mobiles like Sony’s Xperia Z3 only have room for tiny 1/2.3″ sensors. As you step up through compact digital cameras, mirrorless interchangeable-lens camera and on to more professional camera classes, sensor sizes increase dramatically, all the way up to Full Frame 35 mm equivalents.

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