We Got Served http://www.wegotserved.com Fri, 19 Dec 2014 11:40:16 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0.1 Review: Mio MiVue 538 Deluxe In Car Video Recorder http://www.wegotserved.com/2014/12/19/review-mio-mivue-538-deluxe-car-video-recorder/ http://www.wegotserved.com/2014/12/19/review-mio-mivue-538-deluxe-car-video-recorder/#comments Fri, 19 Dec 2014 11:40:16 +0000 http://www.wegotserved.com/?p=70381 If you're a professional drive or motoring enthusiast, the Mio MiVue 538 Deluxe offers you the next big feature enhancement for your vehicle - a GPS-enabled dash-cam.

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While the actual number of CCTV cameras filming people about their daily business in the UK is unknown, estimates vary from almost two to over four million. That’s million. Indeed, all over the world, both the ability and propensity to film what’s going on in the world has exploded over the last ten years, and it’s not just government spooks and revenue raisers that are at it – it’s us too! We’re flocking to brands like Go Pro, Sony, Panasonic, Samsung and others to buy mini-camcorders that we’re strapping to all manner of things – bikes, arms, chests, helmets, heads, motorbikes… the list goes on.

Next up, it’s the turn of the car – that’s if navigation brand Mio has anything to do with it. They sent over their Mio MiVue 538 Deluxe In Car Video recorder for us to check out.

The concept is one of convergence. Take a small, 1080p high-definition dash-mounted video camera, add a GPS transceiver, safety camera database and Google Maps and you’ve got the £149 MiVue 538. Mount it in the car and you’ll be pinged when you’re in a safety camera zone. Record those nutters screaming past you on the motorway at 120 mph. Record your own episode of Top Gear. The possibilities are varied and many. Let’s have a play.

What’s in the Box?

The MiVue 538 isn’t the most carefully packaged product I’ve ever reviewed, but the branding is cheery enough and all of the kit included is well protected in bubble wrap for protection. In the box, you’ll find:

  • The Mio MiView 538
  • Car Mount
  • Mini USB Car Charger Cable
  • 8 GB microSD card (with adaptor)
  • Product Manual

 

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The Mio MiView 538 itself is dinky – far smaller than the sat-navs you now commonly see in cars on the road. The front is dominated by  2.4″ (6.1 cm) colour screen with four buttons below which feel a little loose and cheap to the touch. The rear of the device (which points towards the windscreen) is where you’ll find the F1.8 camera lens, which offers a 130 degree wide-angle view of the road.

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One side of the device includes the red power button and microSD card slot for recording – there’s no internal memory, so you must use an SD card to record. One the other side, you can find the mini USB port for power  and a mini HDMI out connector.

Setting Up & Using the Mio MiView 538

Once you’re unpacked, setting up the MiView 538 is reasonably easy. Simply mount the camera on your windscreen, plug-in to a nearby 12v socket and you’re good to go. The supplied mount fixed well to my windscreen although as the camera hangs underneath the mount, you’ll need to spend a little time adjusting the mount to find the best position.

The MiView 538 is powered by a rechargeable integrated Li-ION battery which provides up to an hour of battery life. Handy for the odd trip, but you’ll mostly use the device plugged into a power source.

In use, the MiView’s 2.4″ screen isn’t the highest quality, but it’s clear enough to work with – both as a viewfinder for video and using the configuration menu. I found the device to be very responsive, booting within a couple of seconds and quick to respond to commands. The device’s GPS sensor also managed to detect and lock on to multiple satellites quickly.

Alongside standard video recording features, the MiVue 538 Deluxe includes a range of additional features designed to keep you safe on the road. Safety camera alerts, with free database updates for life in certain countries, will ping you if you need to be aware of any cameras mounted in the area.

When the on-board sensor detects sudden changes in motion, the MiVue 538 Deluxe initiates an Emergency Mode which instantly saves protected files for future analysis. The mode can also be triggered manually from the device itself with a single button press.

Completing the line-up, a Parking Mode can automatically activate and record videos when a motion is detected near the front of the vehicle – if anyone prangs the front of your car while you’re away, the camera will record it for later review. That is, as long as you’re comfortable leaving the MiVue attached to your windscreen when you’re away from the car. Perhaps not the smartest choice if you don’t wish your car to be broken into.

Despite its diminutive size, the camera records 1920 x 1080p high-definition video which looks great in playback on a computer – less so on the MiVue itself, of course, but the fact that you can review video immediately on the device is handy. In car audio is also recorded by default, so if you decide to rock out to your favourite tunes in the car, be aware that your warbling will be captured for posterity.

Video is encoded as H.264 .mov files, which can be easily read from the microSD card in a common media application like VLC. Video playback is time stamped and includes your speed as well as your geographic location, in longitude/latitude. If you’re ever involved in vehicle accident, the thinking is you could use the information to attempt to prove your were driving lawfully.

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Install the Mio MiVue Manager application (Windows and Mac both supported), however, and you can combine your video with Google Maps data to view your route in real-time as the video plays back. You can navigate through your journeys to find specific trips using a calendar and track you cars position (if you’re technically minded) using a three-axis monitor that Mio calls G-Sensor.

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I appreciate the screenshot above may indicate I’ve driven to the pub for an afternoon drinking session – I assure you I was simply doing the school run!

The MiVue Manager works well for basic viewing of your trips – more advanced features, such as uploading video to YouTube or Facebook, are included but I found these to be a little buggy with the application falsely reporting a lack of Internet connection or simply crashing when attempting to log-in through the app to the social media sites.

Summary

While it’s not an essential purchase for everyday drivers, the Mio MiVue 538 Deluxe would make a great gift for professional drivers and motoring enthusiasts desperately in need of a new toy to play with over the holidays. At £140, the device offers good value with a wide range of features designed to keep motorists protected on the road. While it’s not going to be the most premium device in your collection, the hardware works well with high quality video capture combining effortlessly with GPS tracking to make reviewing your trips (and events along the way) a breeze.

While it’s a little rough around the edges, the MiVue Manager mostly delivers the goods – you’ll find it easy to locate and play your captured trips, but if you’re the type that likes to document their life through social media, you may prefer to upload your recordings outside the MiVue Manager application. Thankfully, videos are very easy to extract from the microSD card.

It may not be for everyone, but Mio have done a decent job with the MiVue 538 Deluxe – if you looking for a device to capture your road trips, it’s well worth a look.

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Review: Samsung SmartCam HD Pro 1080P WiFi Camera http://www.wegotserved.com/2014/12/17/review-samsung-smartcam-hd-pro-1080p-wifi-camera/ http://www.wegotserved.com/2014/12/17/review-samsung-smartcam-hd-pro-1080p-wifi-camera/#comments Wed, 17 Dec 2014 13:56:29 +0000 http://www.wegotserved.com/?p=69798 The Samsung SmartCam HD Pro promises high definition home surveillance for the mobile generation. Let's see if it can deliver.

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Despite home security being front of mind for many companies and a key pillar of the modern smart home, we’ve yet to see a large brand take the Network Camera market and really dominate. Many of the big networking and peripherals companies have dipped a toe in the water – a casual glance at the current and historic product rosters of Netgear, Logitech, D-Link, TP-Link, Belkin and others will uncover a host of options but none that have really captured the hearts and minds of the general public. Certainly none that have elevated network cameras truly into the mainstream.

We’ve had a number of network cameras through the doors of We Got Served for review over the years and I’ve found them to be held back by limited image quality and poor software. On both hardware and software, it’s understandable that manufacturers have yet to hit a home run, as the quality has been simply lacking.

With the likes of smart home start-ups like Canary, DropCam (now snapped up by Nest) and multi-product platforms such as SmartThings seeking to innovate in the smart camera category, perhaps there’s hope on the horizon. Today we turn to tech-giant Samsung, recent acquirers of the SmartThings business.  Their latest network camera, the Samsung SmartCam HD Pro, has landed for review.

We mentioned the SmartCam HD Pro back in July and, as its name suggests, is perhaps most notable for its high definition support. After all, 1080p video recording has been available on a wide range of devices for some years now, so it’s about time the network camera caught up. However, this £130 device has quite a range of tricks other than high definition video recording and streaming  – there’s a basic 4X digital zoom, night vision, two-way audio with a built-in microphone and speaker, image capture to the cloud and a whole lot more.

Add motion and sound detection, configurable alerts – even in-built lullabies to play to your snoozing off-spring when used as a baby monitor and there’s much to explore in the Samsung SmartCam HD Pro. So let’s give it a whirl!

What’s in the Box?

The smartly branded Samsung SmartCam HD Pro box includes:

  • The Samsung SmartCam HD Pro (SNH-P6410BN)
  • Power supply
  • Camera Stand
  • Ethernet Cable
  • Camera Stand
  • Wall Mounting Kit
  • Quick Start Guide & Warranty Card

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The device itself is made from white and silver plastic, and feels sturdy enough to the touch – although hand it to a nearby toddler and it probably won’t last too long! The round face of the camera is cute enough, with the lens dominating the front face of the device, with a luminance sensor positioned below for light level detection. An LED indicator at the top of the face shows network connection status but can be disabled if preferred.

At the rear there’s space for an Ethernet port, power socket, 3.5″ audio out jack, a Wi-fi button for initiating a wireless network connection plus a recessed reset button. A microSD card slot is tucked away under the main body of the camera for local video recording.

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The camera is supplied with an adjustable stand, which is a little flimsy but does allow precise positioning of the camera lens – that’s handy as with power and Ethernet cables plugged in (the latter for better network performance) the lightweight camera body can be easily pulled out of position.As an alternative option, the stand cleverly converts into a wall mount, so can be used to directly fix the camera to a flat surface using supplied adhesive tape or screws.

As you would expect with a budget device, there’s no Power over Ethernet option available for the Samsung SmartCam HD Pro.

Setting up the Samsung SmartCam HD Pro

Configuration of the SmartCam HD Pro looked reasonably straightforward, although my experience wasn’t as smooth as it should have been. A mobile app, available for both Android and iOS, is downloaded to your smartphone or tablet – thankfully, it works on a wide variety of devices, not just Samsung mobiles. Alternatively, a more traditional PC or Mac-based setup is offered by visiting the Samsung SmartCam website and downloading a browser plug-in, although installation failed on my MacBook Air with Google Chrome (the required plugin installed, closed and then disappeared). Apparently, the current Samsung software has an issue with Google Chrome. I managed to get up and running on the desktop using good old Internet Explorer on Windows.

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ASUSTOR Unveils Intel Celeron-Packing 5 Series NAS Range http://www.wegotserved.com/2014/12/16/asustor-unveils-intel-celeron-packing-5-series-nas-range/ http://www.wegotserved.com/2014/12/16/asustor-unveils-intel-celeron-packing-5-series-nas-range/#comments Tue, 16 Dec 2014 13:08:51 +0000 http://www.wegotserved.com/?p=70332 ASUSTOR 5 Series comprises four new two and four bay models, with even higher capacities on the way.

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Last week, I reviewed the QNAP TS-451 NAS Server and was delighted to see the additional horsepower – and features – enabled courtesy of the on-board Intel Celeron processor. These new, more powerful NAS servers are heralding a shift in the category and it’s one that is being pushed by most of the major manufacturers.

Today, ASUSTOR announced a new 5 Series NAS range that builds on this trend with four new products aimed at the home and SOHO markets. The AS5002T and AS5004T are two and four-bay models powered by dual-core 2.41 GHz Intel Celeron processors, with 1 GB RAM in support. Meanwhile, the AS5102T and AS5104T NAS servers are similarly available in two and four bay configurations and are built on quad-core 2.0 GHz Intel Celeron processors with 2 GB RAM on board.

All of the new lines are expandable to 8 GB RAM and ship with the usual array of home and small office connections. They includes twin Gigabit Ethernet ports, three USB 3.0 ports, twin USB 2.0 ports and twin eSATA ports as well as HDMI 1.4a and S/PDIF AV ports to hook up to a big screen.

The slightly more business-formal 51T series devices add disk locks and you’ll find an LCD display panel on the AS5104T.

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As you’d expect, the Intel Celeron will draw more power than the previous Intel Atom-based NAS devices in the ASUSTOR range. The company rates power consumption between 13W and 31.5W, depending on the model selected. However, you can take advantage of the ASUSTOR’s new ADM 2.3 software, which includes a range of performance enhancements and new media features.

The new ASUSTOR 5 Series is rolling off the production line as we speak and will be available soon. 8 and 10-bay models for the 50T and 51T series are also expected to ship in 2015, targeting Enterprise users.

We expect to receive review units in early January, so stay tuned for full reviews.

 

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Synology Announces New DiskStation DS2015xs and DS3615xs Business-Class NAS Servers http://www.wegotserved.com/2014/12/11/synology-announces-new-diskstation-ds2015xs-ds3615xs-business-class-nas-servers/ http://www.wegotserved.com/2014/12/11/synology-announces-new-diskstation-ds2015xs-ds3615xs-business-class-nas-servers/#comments Thu, 11 Dec 2014 09:35:59 +0000 http://www.wegotserved.com/?p=70307 New DiskStation DS2015xs and DS3615xs offer small and medium sized businesses large scale storage capacity and high speed network connections.

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Synology this week took the wraps off two new network attached storage servers, with high-speed 10GbE connections designed for small and medium sized businesses.

Eschewing the trend we’ve seen for NAS vendors to opt for Intel processors – particularly on business-class devices – the 8-bay Synology DiskStation DS2015xs is built around an all-new ARM Cortex-A15 quad-core CPU. The 12-bay DS3615xs opts for a 3.4 GHz dual-core Intel Core i3 processor.

Up to 8 GB RAM can be fitted to Synology DiskStation DS2015xs while the DS3615xs maxes out at 32GB.

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The company is making much of the high speed 10 GbE sockets fitted to the devices. The DS2015xs delivers over 1930 MB/s throughput using the standard, with twin 10GbE SFP+ ports. Two 1GbE RJ-45 ports are also fitted for standard Gigabit ethernet networks. Meanwhile, the larger DS3615xs hits speeds of 2,350 MB/s, with four Gigabit LAN ports supporting the 10 GbE socket.

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Both DS2015xs and DS3615xs can be scaled up to a raw capacity of 120 and 216 TB respectively by connecting DX1215 expansion units.

The two new devices are backed by a limited 5-year warranty and are now shipping globally.

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Review: QNAP TS-451 NAS Server http://www.wegotserved.com/2014/12/10/review-qnap-ts-451-nas-server/ http://www.wegotserved.com/2014/12/10/review-qnap-ts-451-nas-server/#comments Wed, 10 Dec 2014 12:47:43 +0000 http://www.wegotserved.com/?p=70232 Packing a powerful Intel Celeron processor, the QNAP TS-451 NAS is billed as the world's first consumer NAS to support virtualization. Add hardware accelerated media transcoding plus a swathe of features and you'll see how the humble NAS server has grown into something rather special.

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Transformed from the old days of low-powered, limited-feature storage devices, today’s network attached storage servers are more powerful than ever before. Faster, more capable processors, more RAM, better software, increased connectivity – that small box on the shelf has more tricks than Dynamo.

This year, QNAP has really accelerated its platform development, pushing out new devices and new features in a steady stream of innovation. We’ve seen small, silent hybrid NAS/home theater streaming devices such has the SilentNAS HS-251, slimmer NAS servers exclusively using 2.5″ drives and a series of devices built around Intel’s Celeron processors like today’s subject, the QNAP TS-451 NAS Server.

Positioned as a high-end small-business/SOHO and home device, the TS-x51 series is available in 2 (TS-251), 4 (TS-451), 6 (TS-651) and 8 bay (TS-851) configurations – as is common with QNAP devices, all models are supplied without disks but you’ll find online vendors eager to sell you a device bundled with storage. As we’ll see in the course of this review, the TS-x51 series heralds a new class of device for both QNAP – and perhaps the NAS category in general. Let’s take a look!

Specifications

The TS-451, like other models in the series, is built on Intel’s Bay Trail storage platform.  It utilises an Intel Celeron-based system on chip – the Intel Celeron J1800 –  running at 2.4 GHz with a burst mode that boosts speeds to 2.58 GHz when required.  QNAP are shipping the TS-451 in two variants, with differing RAM sizes – the base-level TS-451 is equipped with 1GB DDR3L-1333 RAM, while our review model, the TS-451-4G has 4 GB on board. All models in the TS-x51 range are expandable up to 8 GB RAM, using the twin RAM slots provided.

As QNAP continues to develop and market their servers’  media capabilities, it’s no surprise to see that the Bay Trail platform is well equipped to support a range of media server capabilities. Front and centre is the Intel HD Graphics and Quick Sync transcoder engine which enables hardware accelerated transcoding – in batch and on the fly options – on the device for video conversion. Like many of QNAP’s recent products, the TS-451 is also equipped with a HDMI 1.4a port, for direct connection to a big screen or projector. As we saw with our recent SilentNAS HS-251 review, QNAP’s HD Station app suite brings XBMC/Kodi media center, Google Chrome web browsing, Spotify and much more to the platform.

The other big news to tell you about the Bay Trail platform is virtualization support. The TS-451 includes support for Intel Virtualization Technology (VT-x) bringing hypervisior capabilities to the NAS platform. That means you can easily run virtualised operating systems, hosted on the QNAP NAS – Windows, Linux, Unix, all are welcome. If you ever needed proof of the increased power under the hood of today’s modern NAS devices, there it is. We’ll look at both of these innovative features later in the review.

In terms of connectivity, alongside the HDMI socket, the TS-451 is well equipped with twin Gigabit Ethernet ports, supporting link aggregation and network failover, two USB 2.0 ports (rear) and two USB 3.0 ports (1 x front for easy access, 1 x rear).  There’s no second, redundant power supply but I wouldn’t expect to see that on a home/prosumer class device. You may raise your eyebrows at the prospect of two Ethernet ports, but both must be employed if you wish to take advantage of the TS-451’s virtualization features (as the network connections for your physical and virtual devices will be split).

What’s in the Box?

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You’ll find the QNAP TS-451 NAS Server available online for around £400/$550 which is a competitive price for a Celeron-based NAS – you’ll find Intel Atom-powered NAS servers available for that kind of price. QNAP has recently redesigned their packaging, and the TS-451 ships in a very impactful white and day-glo orange box, which I have to admit I love.

Open up the box, and you’ll unpack:

  • QNAP TS-451
  • Power Adaptor
  • Installation Guide
  • 2 x Ethernet Cables
  • Hard Drive Mounting Screws

As we’ve seen with other QNAP models, no HDMI cable is included in the box, so you’ll need to supply your own.

For the first time in a long while, the TS-451 (and TS-251) sees QNAP shipping a brand new industrial design. I’ve always been a fan of QNAP’s high-quality, understated hardware design – the company has a heritage in well-built hardware using high quality materials – brushed aluminium and good quality acrylics where required. Drive bays and trays in particular have always been great.

The TS-451 is fully clad in white acrylic – must as you’d see from the likes of Synology, although retaining the traditional QNAP aesthetics. The server uses a combination of textured, matt and gloss plastics in white and silver that I’m assuming is designed for more of a home/home office vibe. It’s successful in achieving that, but overall looks and feels a little cheap compared to usual QNAP builds.

 

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If you’d never encountered a QNAP server before, you wouldn’t have an issue – the plastics used are good quality and do not flex. But if you’re more of a seasoned QNAP NAS guy, you’ll may be a little disappointed as the device feels like it’s been cost engineered from the standard QNAP quality.

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ASUSTOR ADM 2.3 Rolls Out Across the Range http://www.wegotserved.com/2014/12/10/asustor-adm-2-3-rolls-across-range/ http://www.wegotserved.com/2014/12/10/asustor-adm-2-3-rolls-across-range/#comments Wed, 10 Dec 2014 07:41:40 +0000 http://www.wegotserved.com/?p=70278 New ASUSTOR ADM 2.3 software update available for all NAS models, bringing new entertainment features and performance enhancements.

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ASUSTOR today announced that its latest NAS software update, ADM 2.3, is now available across the company’s range of network attached storage servers.

Owners of ASUSTOR’s 2, 3 and 6 series servers will discover a newly redesigned user interface, improved transfer speeds courtesy of SMB 2.0 support and seamless integration with Windows AD infrastructure, the company said.

New Functions in ADM 2.3

  • Refreshed and modernised user interface featuring enhanced browsing smoothness and speed
  • New sign in page featuring customisable styles for the creation of a unique NAS experience
  • Support for TFTP server
  • Support for proxy server connections
  • ACL advanced permissions management provides added convenience for IT professionals
  • Smart sleep mode allows the hard disks to automatically enter into hibernation when idle for a specified period of time allowing for effective power saving
  • SMB 2.0 support  increases Windows networking performance by 30%-50%

New media apps have also been prepared for the latest platform release. LooksGood is a Web-based multimedia player application that features a Media Explorer and TV Recording support. Media Explorer provides a folder browsing mode which allows users to view all the photos and videos stored on their NAS and gives them the ability to play them online. The TV Recordings function allows users to use supported USB digital TV dongles to directly receive DVB-T/ DTMB digital TV signals for high definition streaming and recording. A 7 day TV program guide is included, along with the ability to set manual and repeat recordings plus the ability to start recordings earlier or later for flexible scheduling.

A new mobile application, AiVideo has also been released to allow viewing of videos stored on the NAS on smartphones and tablets – 1080p high definition videos are supported along with lower resolution media.

Completing the ADM 2.3 line-up is a new mail server, allowing management and distribution of email in enterprise environments. Features include:

  • Each ADM Account can Become an Independent Email Account
  • Provides IMAP and POP3 Mail Protocols
  • Email activity monitor
  • Backup mechanism protects critical emails
  • Built-in antivirus mechanism
  • Spam filter
  • Sender authentication protects against inappropriate usage

To try out ADM 2.3, a  live demo is available at http://www.asustor.com/live_demo.

 

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QNAP Security Advisory Warns of a Joomla! Exploit http://www.wegotserved.com/2014/12/09/qnap-security-advisory-warns-joomla-exploit/ http://www.wegotserved.com/2014/12/09/qnap-security-advisory-warns-joomla-exploit/#comments Tue, 09 Dec 2014 18:00:34 +0000 http://www.wegotserved.com/?p=70275 Multiple vulnerabilities discovered in Joomla! exploit, allowing unauthorised access to QNAP NAS servers.

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NAS specialist QNAP today issued a security advisory regarding “multiple vulnerabilities” discovered in Joomla!, a popular blogging application available on the company’s QTS platform (alongside others). The note warns users that the security weaknesses “can be exploited to gain unauthorised access via vectors involving LDAP or Gmail authentication, cause a denial of service, or inject arbitrary web script or HTML via cross-site scripting (XSS)”.

An updated application based on Joomla! 3.3.6 is being prepared to fix the vulnerabilities – in the meantime, if you’re using Joomla! on your QNAP NAS, you may wish to deactivate the app until the update is made available.

Here’s the advisory note in full:

QNAP Security Advisory | Bulletin ID: NAS-201412-05

Taipei, Taiwan, December 9, 2014 – QNAP® had published security enhancement against security vulnerabilities that could affect specific versions of QNAP products. Please use the following information and solutions to correct the security issues and vulnerabilities.

Potential Unauthorized Command Execution with Outdated Joomla! Versions

Release date: December 5, 2014
Last updated: December 5, 2014
Bulletin ID: NAS-201412-05
Severity rating: Critical
CVE number: CVE-2014-6632, CVE-2014-7228, CVE-2014-7229, CVE-2014-7982, CVE-2014-7984
Affected products: All Turbo NAS series that host websites built on WordPress versions 4.0.0 and earlier.

Summary

Multiple vulnerabilities have been discovered in Joomla!. The vulnerabilities can be exploited to gain unauthorized access via vectors involving LDAP or Gmail authentication, cause a denial of service, or inject arbitrary web script or HTML via cross-site scripting (XSS).

There is also a vulnerability of Akeeba Restore (restore.php), which is an extension of Joomla!. It allows remote attackers to execute arbitrary code via a command message that extracts a crafted archive while a backup archive or Joomla! update package is being extracted at your site. For more information about the Akeeba Restore (restore.php) vulnerability, visit the Akeeba website at https://www.akeebabackup.com/home/news/1605-security-update-sep-2014.html.

Solution

QNAP is currently working on an updated app based on Joomla! 3.3.6 to fix these vulnerabilities.

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Go Convergence Crazy With the TRENDnet Home Smart Switch With Wireless Extender http://www.wegotserved.com/2014/12/08/go-convergence-crazy-trendnet-home-smart-switch-wireless-extender/ http://www.wegotserved.com/2014/12/08/go-convergence-crazy-trendnet-home-smart-switch-wireless-extender/#comments Mon, 08 Dec 2014 13:25:26 +0000 http://www.wegotserved.com/?p=70268 Just when you thought the technology industry had converged everything there was to converge, up pops TRENDnet with another new mashup.

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Just when you thought the technology industry had converged everything there was to converge, up pops TRENDnet with another new mashup.

Take a wireless extender – you know, those networking devices that can boost your Wi-Fi range by repeating the signal? Now, whack a passthrough electrical socket on it, so you can plug it directly into the mains, and plug other electrical devices into it. Then add a mobile app that allows you to control said electrical device. Then you have the new TRENDnet Home Smart Switch With Wireless Extender.

The onboard N300 Wi-Fi extender boosts your wireless network in dead or cold spots around the home and the free mobile app, available for iOS and Android, allows you to turn the outlet on/off from a mobile device with an Internet connection. You can also use the app to create a weekly on/off schedule, with varying daily on/off times, so that lights are on when returning home or to give the illusion of being home.

The app displays detailed real-time electrical consumption including the current (in mA), voltage, power (in Watts), and total energy consumption (in kWh).

You’ll find the $79.99 TRENDnet Home Smart Switch With Wireless Extender (THA-101) in stores and online retailers now.

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Review: Open Hour Chameleon Home Theater PC http://www.wegotserved.com/2014/12/04/review-open-hour-chameleon-home-theater-pc/ http://www.wegotserved.com/2014/12/04/review-open-hour-chameleon-home-theater-pc/#comments Thu, 04 Dec 2014 16:10:58 +0000 http://www.wegotserved.com/?p=70159 The Open Hour Chameleon is the latest in a new line of compact and powerful media streaming PCs, powered by Google's Android operating system. Check out our hands on review to see if it's the platform for you.

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If you’ve spent any time browsing the web for modern home theatre PCs or media streamers, you’ll know that the days of the uber-large systems are long gone. They’ve been rendered obsolete by small, powerful Android devices built around ARM processors, packing custom builds of the popular XBMC/Kodi media center software.

These so-called “Android TV” boxes (not to be confused with Google’s own media platform) have been shipping in their thousands from small manufacturers and importers. Check Amazon, eBay and similar retailers and you’ll find them easily – cheap, cheerful and, depending on the custom software installed, able to do a fantastic job of streaming any file you care to throw at them from a variety of sources. That includes online sources that may not be 100% legitimate, but we won’t dwell on that particular topic in this review.

While most of the devices on offer are build around the same small number of cheap OEM platforms available to source, we received the Open Hour Chameleon this week for review. It’s notable because it’s from the stable that developed the Popcorn Hour range of media streamers – several of which we reviewed here at We Got Served previously. It’s been a few years since we heard from Syabas Technology, the manufacturers of the Popcorn Hour but they’re back with a fresh new brand (Cloud Media), promising a premium media experience with the Open Hour Chameleon.

Specifications and Features

Priced at $149, the Open Hour Chameleon is priced higher than its competitors, many of which you’ll find available online for less – certainly here in the UK, anyway. But in return, you’ll receive a far more premium device. There are no cheap plastics here – a passively-cooled, brushed aluminium chassis is the order of the day which delivers the looks to match your other AV devices, rather than something that looks like it was given away free in a cereal promotion.

 

The plain front of the device has a tiny, white LED to denote power on alongside the remote control infrared receiver – once the Chameleon is installed in your AV cabinet, you’ll barely see it. Around the back, you’ll find a physical power switch (a welcome addition), twin USB 2.0 ports (handy for wireless keyboard connectors or Wi-Fi dongles), a USB OTG (On the Go) port – this can be used as an additional USB port via a micro USB to USB adapter cable – HDMI 2.0 port, MicroSD, Gigabit Ethernet, Coaxial, S/PDIF optical audio ports and an additional IR receiver input.

Given the compact dimensions of the Open Hour Chameleon (10.2 cm x 3.5cm x 14.5cm), connectivity is impressive – if we were being fussy, we’d prefer the additional speed of a USB 3.0 port over USB 2.0, but as most users will be streaming media over the device’s Ethernet socket, the lack of the latest USB standard is trouble.

Inside, the Open Hour Chameleon is powered by a Rockchip RK3288 SoC (system on chip), based on a quad-core Cortex-A17 ARM processor. 2 GB RAM is provided in support. The RK3288 includes a sixteen-core Mali-T764 graphics processor supporting OpenGL ES3.0, OpenCL1.1 and DirectX11 and boasting 4K video decoding and output. This setup offers a significant boost over older ARM Cortex A9-powered hardware you’ll find in competitor devices – according to ARM, the Cortex-A17 processor offers a 60% uplift and is 20% more energy efficient than the older processor.

The other notable difference between the Open Hour Chameleon and other streamers available on the market today is that it can boot multiple operating systems. Rather than hold the OS on internal storage, the Chameleon boots from an SD card inserted into side of the device. This novel arrangement obviously provides flexibility, but also ensures users that get into trouble attempting to customise their installations can easily wipe the slate clean with a fresh download of the Chameleon’s operating system. An 8 GB SD card is included in-box, holding a customised version of Android Kit Kat 4.4.2 – for those wondering about Android Lollipop support, it’s tentatively slated for Q1 2015.

As an example of alternative operating systems available, here’s a video from Cloud Media of the Chameleon running the Lubuntu operating system:

What’s in the Box?

Open up the Chameleon’s attractive box and inside you’ll find everything you need to get up and running. The package includes:

1 x Open Hour Chameleon
1 x High Speed HDMI Cable with Ethernet
1 x Power Supply
1 x Remote Control
2 x AAA Battery
1 x Quick Start Guide
1 x Warranty Card
1 x SD card preloaded with Android 4.4.2

 

 

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Note that while the Open Hour Chameleon itself supports HDMI 2.0 out of the box, the included cable only supports HDMI 1.4. So, if you want to take advantage of the latest and greatest features delivered by HDMI 2.0, you’ll need to pick up an additional cable.

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QNAP Introduces New, Slimmer NAS Range for Home Theater Installations http://www.wegotserved.com/2014/12/01/qnap-introduces-new-slimmer-nas-range-home-theater-installations/ http://www.wegotserved.com/2014/12/01/qnap-introduces-new-slimmer-nas-range-home-theater-installations/#comments Mon, 01 Dec 2014 12:45:48 +0000 http://www.wegotserved.com/?p=70163 QNAP launches attack on the home theater segment, with new, slimmer NAS servers for enclosed spaces.

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Network attached storage specialist QNAP has just lifted the curtain on a new range of slim devices, targeted at home theater installations and other cramped spaces.

Arriving hot on the heels of the excellent, two-bay HS-251 Silent NAS we reviewed in September, the new range of servers use 2.5″ hard drives and solid-state drives for minimal size and ship with a variety of bay configurations.

The all-new QNAP TS-451S Turbo NAS is a four-bay device, built around an Intel Celeron 2.41GHz processor. Like other models in the QNAP range, the new model is quipped with a HDMI (1.4a) socket which allows direct connection to a TV or projector for media streaming (using Kodi/XBMC) or web browser viewing.

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1 GB RAM is provided as standard, but courtesy of new internal design enhancements from QNAP, is user-upgradable to 8 GB maximum. 

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The TS-451S is sufficiently powerful to transcode Full HD videos on-the-fly or offline, play 1080p videos with 7.1 channel surround sound pass-through and stream media via DLNA, AirPlay, and Plex Media Server.

Twin gigabit Ethernet ports are fitting for load balancing or network failover support, alongside three USB 3.0 ports for peripheral connections. The company quote read/write speeds up to 220 MB/s for the new model.

Joining the new range are two existing models which are being renamed for clarity. Previously known under the SS-x53 name, the TS-453S Pro (4-bay) and TS-853S Pro (8-bay) are sibling devices to the TS-451S. Both are powered by a 2.0 GHz Quad-core Intel Celeron processor paired with 4GB RAM, and are also expandable to 8 GB maximum.

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Expect to see the new range in stores later this month.

More: QNAP

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Belkin Continues Smart Home Push With WeMo LED Lighting Starter Set & Smart LED Bulbs http://www.wegotserved.com/2014/11/25/belkin-continues-smart-home-push-wemo-led-lighting-starter-set-smart-led-bulbs/ http://www.wegotserved.com/2014/11/25/belkin-continues-smart-home-push-wemo-led-lighting-starter-set-smart-led-bulbs/#comments Tue, 25 Nov 2014 13:15:10 +0000 http://www.wegotserved.com/?p=70149 The Belkin WeMo LED Lighting Starter Set launches today in the UK, offering a simple way to automate or control in-home illumination from your mobile.

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Much like the buttons on our TVs, in the future, we may still have light switches fitted to our walls but will we still use them? Belkin is one company that is pushing a smarter alternative from today, with the launch of their WeMo LED Lighting Starter Set & WeMo Smart LED Bulbs.

 

These latest product lines continue Belkin’s push into the smart home, helping consumers transform ordinary electrical devices into smart, integrated app-managed solutions. The WeMo LED Lighting Starter Set (F5Z0489) includes two WeMo Smart LED Bulbs and a WeMo Link controller which provides connectivity to your home Wi-Fi network. A free WeMo app, available for iOS and Android devices, is used to control illumination in the home.

 

The days of manual “light on/light off” will be left behind, courtesy of a range of customisation features. You can create lighting schedules based on your personal routine or time them to the sunrise or sunset. Meanwhile, the security-conscious will love a vacation mode which simulates occupancy while you’re on your holiday adventures and a dim-to-sleep feature dims a bedroom light gradually until completely off, over a set period of time. Ahhh…

Kick off your WeMo lighting network with the £79.99/$99.99 starter kit, and you can then add additional WeMo Smart LED Bulbs (F7C033), which are priced at £24.99/$29.99 a piece. These standard-sized, A-19 bulbs are available with either screw and bayonet fittings and are said to last up to 23 years. The bulbs are rated at 60W equivalent, and offer 800 lumens and 3000 kelvins of warm white light – similar to incandescent bulbs. At launch, no colour options are available.

The new lighting kit arrives hot on the heels of a WeMo smart home hobbyist kit, launched this month by Belkin. The Belkin WeMo Maker Kit allows anyone with a little electrical knowhow to automate and control any low voltage electrical equipment via a simple smartphone app – from garage doors, to coffee machines, pet feeders or garden sprinklers.

 

The device, and WeMo app supports IFTTT (If This Then That) integration, so you can trigger connected devices via emails, social networks, a change in the weather – this list of alternatives is huge. The WeMo Maker also works with 5V digital sensors that allow you to monitor a wide variety of inputs. Hook up a moisture sensor for your irrigation system or a proximity sensor for your cat flap.

As you’d anticipate, an eager community of enthusiasts has sprung up at community.wemo.is where they’re already swapping ideas, posting projects and collaborating on new adventures.

WeMo Maker (F7C043) is priced at £69.99 and is available to buy now. Those seeking a little extra illumination can find the Belkin WeMo LED Lighting Starter Set & Smart LED Bulbs also available at from today in the UK and beyond.

 

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Review: Western Digital WD My Passport Wireless Portable Hard Drive http://www.wegotserved.com/2014/11/19/review-western-digital-wd-passport-wireless-portable-hard-drive/ http://www.wegotserved.com/2014/11/19/review-western-digital-wd-passport-wireless-portable-hard-drive/#comments Wed, 19 Nov 2014 13:58:08 +0000 http://www.wegotserved.com/?p=70080 The Western Digital WD My Passport Wireless may be a little late to the Wi-Fi Storage party, but professionals and families alike are going to find it a fabulous companion on the road.

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While the world remains deeply in love with mobile devices, they certainly have their restrictions. Svelte and beautiful they may be, but they don’t pack a lot of storage space and if you opt for a higher capacity model, you’re going to be charged through the nose for the privilege.

So whether you’re a photographer or creative professional seeking high-capacity mobile storage for your work, or parents searching for a mobile movie library for the kids, a wireless hard drive is a fabulous idea. The concept is this: take a hard-drive, add a wi-fi connection to allow devices to connect to it, and you can easily stream media or transfer files to or from the device over the air. PCs, Macs, tablets, smartphones – everyone’s invited.

To say that Western Digital are surprisingly late to this particular party is an understatement. Arch-rivals Seagate (alongside their subsidiary, LaCie) have already been through two generations of wireless hard drives, with increasing capacity and improved user experience. That said, my experience with Seagate’s devices has been mixed – on a good day, it’s trouble-free, but transferring media from computers to the hard drive is let down by reasonably clunky software.

As mentioned in our news post last month, Western Digital stated that the reason they had yet to enter the market was simply that they didn’t feel the underlying technology driving these devices was ready for prime time. Here in late 2014, however, that position has changed as the company unveils its debut Wi-Fi-enabled, portable hard drive – the WD My Passport Wireless.

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Shipping in 500 GB ($120), 1 TB ($199/£160) and 2 TB ($249/£220) capacities (our review model is the latter), the WD My Passport Wireless allows up to eight devices to connect simultaneously over 802.11n Wi-Fi and includes an SD Card slot for quickly backing up files from cameras and camcorders. A wired, high-speed USB 3.0 connection is also available which will come in most handy when pushing large media files to the device.

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As always, the WD My Passport Wireless is beautifully packaged, shipping with a power adaptor and USB 3.0 cable, plus a short, visual quick-start guide. The device is rechargeable, and can be powered-on out of the box, although it’s probably worth charging it fully to maximise its battery life. It is rated up to 6 hours of continuous video streaming and up to 20 hours of standby time. In reality, our tests clocked battery life a little shorter than that, but it’s still capable of sustaining power through a lengthy road trip before needing a recharge.

Opening the box, I was surprised to see that the My Passport Wireless is quite a chunky device. The 2 TB drive, at 127 x 86 x 29.8mm is the largest of the three models, with the 1 TB (127 x 86 x 24.4 mm) and 500 GB (127 x 86 x 21 mm) offering slightly slimmer form factors. Certainly, Seagate’s 2 TB Wireless Plus is a more compact device and is lighter, weighting in at 0.27 kg compared to the My Passport Wireless’ 0.35 kg.

The simple, black and silver design includes a battery and network indicator on the front face, the former which turns from blue, to green, orange and red as the battery depletes – that’s a handy visual cue so you know when it’s time to recharge. The left side of the drive includes the SD card slot – the first we’ve seen on a Wi-Fi hard drive – which is protected by a dummy card. Simply push in and the protector pops out, allowing you to insert your SD card. SD card transfers are rated at 25 MB/s – far slower than the 5 Gb/s you’ll get from the USB 3.0 connection, but the inclusion of an SD slot is very handy for camera users.

The top of the drive is where you’ll find the power button as well as a Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS) button which allows easy connection to the drive for compatible devices.

Inside the case, the WD My Passport Wireless is powered by a Texas Instruments Sitara AM335x EVM ARM Cortex A8 Processor, with 512 MB RAM in support.

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