Tim Sweeney is positively steam-ed about Microsoft’s Windows Cloud operating system

Image result for Tim,Sweeney,is,positively,steam-ed,about,Microsoft’s,Windows,Cloud,operating,system

Yesterday, we reported on Windows Cloud — a new version of Microsoft’s Windows 10 that’s supposedly in the works. Windows Cloud would be limited to applications that are available through the Windows Store and is widely believed to be a play for the education market, where Chromebooks are currently popular.

Tim Sweeney, the founder of Epic and lead developer on the Unreal Engine, has been a harsh critic of Microsoft and its Windows Store before. He wasted no time launching a blistering tirade against this new variant of the operating system, before Microsoft has even had a chance to launch the thing.

With all respect to Tim, I think he’s wrong on this for several reasons. First, the idea that the Windows Store is going to crush Steam is simply farcical. There is no way for Microsoft to simply disallow Steam or other applications from running in mainstream Windows without completely breaking Win32 compatibility in its own operating system. Smartphone manufacturers were able to introduce the concept of app stores and walled gardens early on. Fortune 500 companies, gamers, enthusiasts, and computer users in general would never accept an OS that refused to run Win32 applications.

The second reason the Windows Store is never going to crush Steam is that the Windows Store is, generally speaking, a wasteland where software goes to die. The mainstream games that have debuted on that platform have generally been poor deals compared with what’s available on other platforms (like Steam). There’s little sign Microsoft is going to change this anytime soon, and until it does, Steam’s near-monopoly on PC game distribution is safe.

Third, if Microsoft is positioning this as a play against Chrome OS, Windows Cloud isn’t going to debut on high-end systems that are gaming-capable in the first place. This is a play aimed at low-end ARM or x86 machines with minimum graphics and CPU performance. In that space, a locked-down system is a more secure system. That’s a feature, not a bug, if your goal is to build systems that won’t need constant IT service from trojans, malware, and bugs.

Like Sweeney, I value the openness and capability of the PC ecosystem — but I also recognize that there are environments and situations where that openness is a risk with substantial downside and little benefit. Specialized educational systems for low-end markets are not a beachhead aimed at destroying Steam. They’re a rear-guard action aimed at protecting Microsoft’s educational market share from an encroaching Google.

 

 

[Source:- Extremetech]

Who makes the most reliable hard drives?

blog-lifetime-by-drive-size

Backblaze is back again, this time with updated hard drive statistics and failure rates for all of 2016. Backblaze’s quarterly reports on HDD failure rates and statistics are the best data set we have for measuring drive reliability and performance, so let’s take a look at the full year and see who the winners and losers are.

Backblaze only includes hard drive models in its report if it has at least 45 drives of that type, and it currently has 72,100 hard drives in operation. The slideshow below explains and steps through each of Backblaze’s charts, with additional commentary and information. Each slide can be clicked to open a full-size version in a new window.

Backblaze has explained before that it can tolerate a relatively high failure rate before it starts avoiding drives altogether, but the company has been known to take that step (it stopped using a specific type of Seagate drive at one point due to unacceptably high failure rates). Current Seagate drives have been much better and the company’s 8TB drives are showing an excellent annualized failure rate.

Next, we’ve got something interesting — drive failure rates plotted against drive capacity.

The “stars” mark the average annualized failure rate for all of the hard drives for each year.

The giant peak in 3TB drive failures was driven by the Seagate ST3000DM001, with its 26.72% failure rate. Backblaze actually took the unusual step of yanking the drives after they proved unreliable. With those drives retired, the 3GB failure rate falls back to normal.

One interesting bit of information in this graph is that drive failure rates don’t really shift much over time. The shifts we do see are as likely to be caused by Backblaze’s perpetual rotation between various manufacturers as old drives are retired and new models become available. Higher capacity drives aren’t failing at statistically different rates than older, smaller drives, implying that buyers don’t need to worry that bigger drives are more prone to failure.

The usual grain of salt

As always, Backblaze’s data sets should be taken as a representative sample of how drives perform in this specific workload. Backblaze’s buying practices prioritize low cost drives over any other type, and they don’t buy the enterprise drives that WD, Seagate, and other manufacturers position specifically for these kinds of deployments. Whether or not this has any impact on consumer drive failure rates isn’t known — HDD manufacturers advertise their enterprise hardware as having gone through additional validation and being designed specifically for high-vibration environments, but there are few studies on whether or not these claims result in meaningfully better performance or reliability.

 

Backblaze’s operating environment has little in common with a consumer desktop or laptop, and may not cleanly match the failure rates we would see in these products. The company readily acknowledges these limitations, but continues to provide its data on the grounds that having some information about real-world failure rates and how long hard drives live for is better than having none at all. We agree. Readers often ask which hard drive brands are the most reliable, but this information is extremely difficult to come by. Most studies of real-world failure rates don’t name brands or manufacturers, which limits their real-world applicability.

 

[Source:- Extremetech]

Nintendo stands by Switch’s sparse

3DS-Sales

Nintendo released its annual financial report this week, and president Tatsumi Kimishima defended the Switch’s sparse launch lineup, along with giving additional details on Nintendo’s mobile and console business performance. The Switch’s software lineup has been widely criticized for its unusually small size. Kimishima attempted to push back against this argument, saying:

Our thinking in arranging the 2017 software lineup is that it is important to continue to provide new titles regularly without long gaps. This encourages consumers to continue actively playing the system, maintains buzz, and spurs continued sales momentum for Nintendo Switch. April 28 Spring, 2017 Summer, 2017 For that reason, we will be releasing Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, ARMS, which is making its debut on the Nintendo Switch during the first half of 2017, and Splatoon 2, which attracted consumers’ attention most during the hands-on events in Japan, in summer 2017.

The problem with this argument is that the Switch’s lineup is painfully thin, no matter how Nintendo tries to paper over the issue. The North American Switch will launch with 10 titles:

  • 1-2 Switch
  • The Binding of Isaac: Afterbirth+
  • Human Resource Machine
  • Just Dance 2017
  • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
  • Little Inferno
  • I am Setsuna
  • Skylanders: Imaginators
  • Super Bomberman R
  • World of Goo

The Wii U launched with 32 titles, while the PS4 had 25 and the Xbox One had 22. Clearly launch titles alone don’t make or break a console, or the Wii U would’ve beaten both its rivals. But consumers do tend to treat launch support as indicative of overall developer buy-in.

What’s perhaps more worrying is the way this problem doesn’t resolve through the end of 2017. There are more games coming through the rest of the year (17 in total), but comparatively few top-franchise games. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is a warmed-over refresh of a two-year-old game, and Splatoon doesn’t have the mass market appeal of a Mario or Pokemon game. Super Mario Odyssey is the biggest post-launch game for Switch with a 2017 launch date, and it won’t drop until the holiday season. When you combine the weak game lineup with the high price ($300), accessory costs, and lack of a bundled game, it’s hard to make a strong argument for the handheld — especially since Nintendo remains resolute that the Switch isn’t a handheld at all.

This graph helps explain why. Nintendo sold roughly 2.1 million 3DS devices in 2016 in the US alone (Wikipedia estimates CY 2016 sales at 7.36 million devices worldwide). That’s vastly better than the Wii U, which saw a complete sales collapse this year, even in comparison with its previous anemic performance. As we’ve previously speculated, Nintendo literally can’t afford to quit on the 3DS, particularly with the Switch’s long-term sales strength so uncertain. The company continues to insist that the Switch and 3DS will exist concurrently, with separate libraries of games and different price points.

We suspect that this is little more than convenient fiction. Nintendo has proven perfectly happy to mislead the public about its plans in the past, arguing that the Nintendo DS wasn’t a replacement for the original Game Boy line, and more recently claiming that the Wii U would remain in production for the rest of the year when it ended hardware manufacturing well before that point. In both cases, the company was hedging its bets, giving itself room to pivot if a product didn’t take off. The monstrous success of Pokemon Sun and Moon explains the difference between FY 2016 and FY 2017 software sales for the 3DS — and also why Nintendo won’t step away from its established handheld until it knows it has a suitable replacement available. This  could prove to be a mistake; the Switch’s capabilities position it much more effectively as a high-end handheld than as a living room console.

If the Switch sells well, Nintendo can introduce a cost-reduced version that would compete more directly against the 3DS at a later point, if needed. Both platforms will remain in market through 2017, with more games arriving for 3DS throughout the year.

Nintendo also acknowledged it has had some trouble converting Super Mario Run’s success into sales. While 78 million people have downloaded the game, the conversion rate is reportedly ~5%. That’s still an entirely respectable four million paying customers, but Nintendo seems to have had higher hopes for its first mobile title. Given that Super Mario Run actually has an up-front price tag rather than a micropayment system, 5% conversion rates sound fairly solid to us.

Finally, Nintendo confirmed that it continues to have trouble stocking the NES Classic Edition, but still managed to sell 1.5 million of the consoles through the holiday season. Considering that store fronts still can’t keep the system in stock for more than a few minutes at a time, the company severely underestimated demand here.

 

 

[Source:- Extremetech]

Squirrel ‘threat’ to critical infrastructure

Grey squirrel

The real threat to global critical infrastructure is not enemy states or organisations but squirrels, according to one security expert.

Cris Thomas has been tracking power cuts caused by animals since 2013.

Squirrels, birds, rats and snakes have been responsible for more than 1,700 power cuts affecting nearly 5 million people, he told a security conference.

He explained that by tracking these issues, he was seeking to dispel the hype around cyber-attacks.

His Cyber Squirrel 1 project was set up to counteract what he called the “ludicrousness of cyber-war claims by people at high levels in government and industry”, he told the audience at the Shmoocon security conference in Washington.

Squirrels topped the list with 879 “attacks”, followed by:

  • birds – 434
  • snakes – 83
  • raccoons – 72
  • rats – 36
  • martens – 22
  • frogs – three
  • He concludes that the damage done by real cyber-attacks – Stuxnet’s destruction of Iranian uranium enrichment centrifuges and disruption to Ukrainian power plants being the most high profile – was tiny compared to the “cyber-threat” posed by animals.

    Most of the animal “attacks” were on power cables but Mr Thomas also discovered that jellyfish had shut down a Swedish nuclear power plant in 2013, by clogging the pipes that carry cool water to the turbines.

    He also discovered that there have been eight deaths attributed to animal attacks on infrastructure, including six caused by squirrels downing power lines that then struck people on the ground.

    Mr Thomas – better known as SpaceRogue – set up Cyber Squirrel 1 as a Twitter feed in March 2013 and initially collected information from Google alerts.

  • It has since evolved into a much larger project – collecting information from search engines and other web sources.

    Mr Thomas only collected reports compiled in the English language and admitted that he was probably only capturing “a fraction” of animal-related power cuts worldwide.

    “The major difference between natural events, be they geological, meteorological or furry, is that cyber-attacks are deliberate orchestrated by humans,” said Luis Corrons, technical director of security firm PandaLabs.

    “While natural disasters are taken into account when critical infrastructure facilities are built, that’s not the case with computers. Most critical facilities were never designed to connect to the rest of the world, so the kind of security they implemented was taking care of the physical world surrounding them.

    “The number of potential attackers is growing, the number of potential targets is also going up. So we all need to reinforce our defences to the maximum – and also worry about squirrels.”

 
[Source:- BBC]

Porn videos streamed ‘via YouTube loophole’

YouTube logo

Adult video websites appear to be exploiting a YouTube loophole to host explicit material on the platform.

News site TorrentFreak found some sites had uploaded videos that did not show up on YouTube, but could be viewed on third-party websites.

The exploit allows a website to host its video library for free, using Google’s server space and bandwidth.

YouTube told the BBC its policies “prohibit sexually explicit content like pornography”.

Videos can be uploaded to YouTube under a “private” setting that prevents them from appearing publicly on the website or in search results. This setting also disables the embed function that usually lets videos be posted on other websites.

However, TorrentFreak reported that some websites had found a way to play secretly uploaded videos on their own external services, by streaming the raw data from googlevideo.com – a domain operated by Google.

The news site said it was not clear exactly how the websites were achieving this.

Hosting videos on YouTube secretly would let an adult video site keep its costs low, while earning money selling access to its videos.

One California-based adult film producer suggested that the loophole was also being used to host pirated adult content.

“Copyright infringers take advantage of a private-video-share setting,” Dreamroom Productions told TorrentFreak.

“They upload and store videos, and freely use them on third party websites to earn profits.”

The company said Google did take down infringing copies of its content when notified, but added that the process sometimes took up to three weeks.

“YouTube should be aware of this. They are allowing the situation to continue by not plugging this hole,” the firm said.

A spokeswoman for YouTube said: “We have teams around the world that review flagged content, regardless of whether it is private, public or unlisted. Content that violates our policies is quickly removed.”

 

[Source:- BBC]

 

Apple App Store prices rise in UK, India and Turkey

iPhone

Apple is to put up the price it charges for apps in the UK, India and Turkey.

UK costs will numerically match those of the US, meaning that a program that costs $0.99 will now be 99p.

That represents a 25% rise over the previous currency conversion, which was 79p.

“Price tiers on the App Store are set internationally on the basis of several factors, including currency exchange rates, business practices, taxes, and the cost of doing business,” it said.

“These factors vary from region to region and over time.”

The rise will also affect in-app purchases but not subscription charges.

A spokeswoman for Google was unable to comment about whether it had plans to alter prices on its Play store for Android apps.

Publishers’ choice

Apple had already adjusted the UK prices of its iPhones and iPads in September and then its Mac computers in October by a similar degree.

Other tech firms to have announced price rises in the country in the months following the Brexit vote – which has been linked to a fall in sterling’s value – include Microsoft, Dell, Tesla and HP.

To mitigate the impact of the latest increase, Apple is introducing new lower-price tiers.

Publishers will be able to charge users 49p or 79p for purchases but will have to re-price their products to do so.

“I don’t think many publishers will respond to that change,” commented Ben Dodson, an app consultant and developer of Music Tracker among other software.

“It’s just throwing money away and there’s no reason to give people in the UK a discount.

“I won’t be discounting my own apps.”

At present, $1 trades for 82p.

However, the price quoted by Apple in the UK version of its store includes the 20% VAT sales tax. In the US, state sales taxes are not included in advertised prices but are added at the point of sale.

“It was certainly inevitable that Apple would change the price point for apps in the App Store to reflect currency changes,” commented Ian Fogg from the IHS Technology consultancy.

“But this is a normal part of the way the store works because it does not have dynamically changing prices that would change gradually.”

The cost of a $0.99 app will become 80 rupees in India, representing a 33% rise from the previous price of 60 rupees.

In Turkey it will change from 2.69 to 3.49 lira, which is a gain of 30%.

The news site 9to5Mac was first to report the development.

It said the change would occur over the next seven days.

Apple has also altered the cost of apps in Romania and Russia to take account of local changes to VAT made at the start of the year.

 

 

[Source:- BBC]

Tuning out: Norway is about to become the first country to ditch FM radio

Norway will become the first country in the world this week to start turning off its FM radio network as the country moves to a digital-only broadcasting system.

On January 11, the city of Bodø, in the northern county of Nordland, will be the first to have its signal shut off, with the rest of the nation’s signal being closed down by the end of the year. The country has been split into six regions for the turn-off.

Frequency Modulation was first invented in 1933 and more widely introduced in the 1950s. It is commonly broadcast between the radio frequencies 87.5 to 108.0 MHz.

“The fact that the FM network will be phased out does not mean radio silence in Norway,” Digital Radio Norway says on its website. Instead, the organisation claims there will be five times the amount of radio channels available.

The radio group says it would take “huge” investments to bring the existing FM standard to a higher quality and the last Norwegian channels were launched on FM in 2004 and 1993. Instead of FM, the country will be moving to DAB (Digital Audio Broadcasting). The format, which is used in the UK alongside FM, was created by researchers in the 1980s.

“A lot of work has been done during the preparations to ensure a good replacement is in place,” Ole Jørgen Torvmark, the CEO of Digital Radio Norway said. “The DAB network has been thoroughly measured and adjusted, and a great deal of information has been made available to listeners”.

Despite the changes – it was approved by Norway’s parliament, which first floated the idea in 2011 – not everyone is in favour. According to Reuters, 66 per cent of the country opposes the switch-off, with only 17 per cent approving of the digital-only method.

Cars are said to be one of the biggest issues for those in the country. One critic of the plan said in 2016 that the move to digital-only was “embarrassing”. “Norwegian politicians have decided to make 15 million FM radios useless. It’s a bad idea,” Jan Thoresen, a digital expert, said in an opinion piece.

Norway is the first country to implement the digital switch but isn’t the only one considering it. Switzerland and Denmark are also considering a change and the UK has been having discussions about a digital radio policy for years.

The UK’s digital TV switchover finished in 2012 but radio has been slower. At one point, a digital radio switch had been planned for 2015. However, before the change happens at least 50 per cent of UK radio listening must come from digital radios and signal coverage has to be comparable to that of the FM network.

 
[Source:- Wired]

 

How Spotify chooses what makes it onto your Discover Weekly playlist

Software engineer Edward Newett created Spotify's Discover Weekly algorithm

Edward Newett is the man behind one of the most influential innovations in music: the Spotify Discover Weekly algorithm. WIRED talks to the 36-year-old New Yorker about moulding the tastes of a generation.

How can an algorithm determine what tens of millions of people want to listen to every week?

Edward Newett: There are two parts to how the algorithm works: on one side, every week we’re modelling the relationship of everything we know about Spotify through our users’ playlist data.

On the other, we’re trying to model the behaviour of every single user on Spotify – their tastes, based primarily on their listening habits, what features they use on Spotify and also what artists they follow. So we take these two things and every Monday we recommend what we think you would like, but might not have heard about.

How does the algorithm determine what to serve up?

By trying to mimic the behaviour of all of our users when trying to put together their perfect mix, we can leverage Spotify’s two billion playlists, target individual tastes and come up with playlists that will be interesting.

What’s the origin of the algorithm?

When I joined in June 2013, I was on a team that was building the initial discovery product for Spotify – it was content in an almost Pinterest-style layout. At some point, a colleague and I decided that it would be a lot easier if we had it as a playlist. Then, around that time, a new product person joined our team and really loved what we were working on and helped us take it to market and make it a formal product.

Spotify announced in May 2016 that more than 40 million people had used its Discover Weekly service, streaming just under five billion tracks in under a year. How do you account for its popularity?

The biggest part is that it is deeply personalised to you. We’re finding ways, through personalised cover art and also by adding a track that we think would be familiar to you – based on artists you’ve listened to – to draw you in initially. Also, the more you listen to music, the better the recommendations for Discover Weekly become. And I think the playlist’s popularity also has something to do with this habit people got into: we were seeing tweets pretty early on that people were really looking forward to their new Discover Weekly and, by extension, Monday morning.

 

 
[Source:- Wired]

This university has no teachers, syllabus or fees

It’s 9.30am on a grey Thursday morning in May, and long banks of iMacs stand idle in a former government building on Boulevard Bessières in north Paris. The morning lack of activity, explains Xavier Niel, a French billionaire who is leading a tour of his three-year-old experimental university, isn’t a concern; rush hour is 2 or 3am.

“You’d see 300 or 400 students here at night,” Niel says. “We’re open 24 hours – the French president was here taking selfies at midnight. And you’ll notice that there are no teachers – this is a project-based school. You get no diploma.”

Niel, who made his fortune by taking on France’s telco establishment with his Free ISP and mobile businesses, declared in 2013 that “the education system doesn’t work”. So he decided to reinvent it, by funding an ambitious merit-based coding school without teachers, without a syllabus, without entrance requirements and without fees.

The school, called École 42 (the answer to the question of “life, the Universe and everything” in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy), is funded, in Niel’s words, “by my credit card”: ˇ20 million (£17m) for launch costs, and around ˇ7m a year in running costs for the first decade. “After that,” he says, pointing to three American students, “we hope one of you guys will be the next Zuckerberg.”

Peter Thiel, Jack Dorsey and Tony Fadell have come here to marvel at how Niel’s school has challenged existing notions of higher education. Snapchat’s Evan Spiegel is among the converts: “You feel you’re walking into a school from the future,” he declared. “It’s a transformative way to learn.”

So, to the acclaim of his Silicon Valley friends, Niel in autumn 2016 opened a second branch in Fremont, in California, with a $100m (£76m) commitment. It’s all part of his mission to make talent and merit, not means, the gateway to a quality tech education.

And it all comes down to talent-spotting via a merit-based game. “We have 80,000 applicants a year who play an online game, and 25,000 finish,” Niel explains. “We take the 3,000 best and ask them to come to the school for a month – that’s 450 hours of 15-hour days, including Saturday and Sunday. After five or six days, a third of them leave. And then we take the 1,000 best.”

The survivors – 80 to 90 per cent of whom are French, but which also includes many Americans – win a free education, help in finding accommodation (Niel is building 900 flats), loan guarantees of €15,000 if needed, and access to high-quality internships. “Forty per cent don’t have a Baccalaureate, and half the students in this school are from poor families and wouldn’t be able to afford it,” Niel says. An American woman, with a biology degree from Yale, smiles and says: “We’re the lucky ones.” Niel counters: “There’s no luck.”

The project-based curriculum consists of 21 modules – or, as Niel calls them, “game levels” – designed by six staff in an upstairs enclave called “the cluster”. Apart from a five-minute instructional video and PDF, students are left to learn in groups. After a month, they should be able to code in C; they’re challenged to build Tetrisand Sudoku from scratch using their new skills. They then move at their own pace: the fastest student finished school after 18 months; others will take five years.

Game dynamics are everywhere: to get projects corrected, students must spend “correction points” – which they earn by correcting someone else’s project. If there’s a disciplinary breach, they have to spin a wheel to learn their punishment: “Take orders at the coffee machine”, or “Clean the windows with a toothbrush”. Good behaviour earns “wallet points” which can be spent.

There are still some bugs to iron out: fewer than ten per cent of students are women, which 42 is trying to change by inviting secondary-school girls to spend holiday time at the college. Graduate salaries, Niel says, are typically €42,000-€45,000 in the first year, “yet with better coding levels than US graduates earning $140,000”.

École 42 is far from the only ambitious ed-tech experiment being led by a bold tech 
entrepreneur. California- and Hong Kong-based Age of Learning raised $150 million last May; China’s 17zuoye recently raised $100 million; and Udemy raised $113m. Then there are Udacity, Coursera, iTutorGroup, Pluralsight, the hyper-selective Minerva Project university… indeed, AngelList documents a staggering 11,812 education startups.

Kevin Carey, author of The End of College: Creating the Future of Learning and the University of Everywhere, sees a global $4.6 trillion market being disrupted. That may not be a bad thing: under the current university system, student debt in the US alone is now estimated at exceeding $1.2 trillion.

But Niel, who learned to code at 16 on a Sinclair ZX81 and dropped out of school to work on Minitel phone-connected monitors, doesn’t see himself as taking on the establishment. “France is amazing,” he tells WIRED. “I’ve helped finance a thousand startups, and I like to have a good relationship with the French establishment. I like to help entrepreneurs.”

 

 

[Source:- Wired]

WD My Passport Wireless Pro review: A portable hard drive made for mobile streaming

wdfmp wirelesspro 1

We had only two real complaints about WD’s original My Passport Wireless media-streaming Wi-Fi hard drive: short-ish battery life, and an inability to charge other devices. WD has remedied both shortcomings with the all-new My Passport Wireless Pro. This is a thoroughly improved and much more capable product.

If you’re new to wireless media-streaming hard drives, they’re basically a marriage of Wi-Fi hot spot and battery-powered USB storage. In this case, you get a dual-band 802.11ac hot spot and either 2TB ($230) or 3TB ($250) of storage. Log onto the hot spot the My Passport Pro creates and you can stream music, video, or photographs from it to your laptop, tablet, or smartphone. You can also use it for like a NAS box or even a direct-attached USB 3.0 portable hard drive.

Unlike its very thick predecessor, the My Passport Wireless Pro could easily be mistaken for a portable optical drive (you remember those, right?). Except that this enclosure sports a micro-USB 3.0 connector, a USB 2.0 Type A port (for charging other devices from the drive’s battery), and an SD memory-card slot (for transferring files—automatically on insert, if you so choose. You can push a button if you don’t.) The new model weighs in at nearly a pound–that’s four ounces heavier than the original–and we’re pretty sure it’s attributable to the 6400 mAh battery.

WD

The Wireless Pro’s two USB 3.0 ports and SD card slot are visible in this side shot.

Setup

The new Passport Wireless Pro is even easier to set up that its predecessor. With my iPad, all I had to do was select the My Passport network, join using the password prominently displayed on a sticker on the front of the unit, and then open Safari. The browser headed directly for the setup routine without my having to type in the URL for its configuration page. It also walked me through the process of connecting the parent network to pass through the Internet connection. Smooth. Easy. Good job WD.

Additionally, you’re asked if you want to download the Plex media server in order to stream media files from the My Passport Wireless Pro. Plex is optional, as the Twonky DLNA server is already included. But Plex has a slicker interface, offers a choice of proprietary or DLNA serving, and it provides clients for nearly every operating system (but not the 32-bit Windows 7 on my older Acer laptop. Go figure.)

Note that Plex requires signing up for a free account. Twonky does not, and it does a pretty decent job streaming movies and audio to client devices.

The addition of the Plex media server lets the My Passport Wireless Pro support more devices, more easily than the Twonky DLNA server, which is still included as well.

Battery life and performance

As to those extra four ounces of battery. Wow. The My Passport Wireless Pro more than doubles its predecessor’s four-hour run time, delivering 9 hours and 10 minutes in our test. And that was with the drive in performance mode; there’s also a battery-save mode that squeezes out about an extra half hour to forty-five minutes. If you don’t need to stream on battery power, that kind of juice can go a long way to charging other USB devices.

Used as a direct-attached USB hard drive, performance was a slightly below average. AS SSD rated the drive as reading 10GB sequentially at 120MBps, and writing it at 113MBps. Our 20GB large-file copy tests came up with almost exactly the same rates; however, speeds dropped significantly with our 20GB batch of smaller files and folders: to 75MBps reading and 55MBps writing.

The My Passport Wireless Pro performs well as a USB 3.0 hard drive. The 20GB file and folder write performance will increase significantly if you re-format the drive from exFAT to NTFS.

Small-file write performance improved significantly after I re-formatted the drive from exFAT to the NTFS files system that the other drives in the chart used. That said, exFAT formatting can’t explain the slow reading of the 20GB batch of files and folders, where exFAT and NTFS generally perform the same. If you’re planning to use the drive with a Mac, on the other hand, you’ll want to leave the drive formatted as exFAT: Macs can read NTFS-formatted drives, but they can’t write to them.

Streaming performance

Streaming was a mixed bag of easy and not so easy. This wasn’t the Wireless Pro’s fault, but the uneven implementation of streaming protocols across platforms. In all cases (Android, iOS, OS X, Windows 10, Windows 7, and Windows Phone) I was eventually able to stream 1080p video, though in some cases it required switching apps on the client devices and/or switching between Plex and Twonky. Streaming 2160p files (4K UHD) didn’t work, but that’s no surprise: Streaming those files over most ethernet connections can be iffy; besides, there’s not a lot of 2160p content out there.

The issues I did encounter were with the Windows Media Player (LAV filters) and Twonky server streaming to 32-bit Windows 7, which stuttered continually even when I lowered the resolution to 720p. I’ve never had problems with that laptop and other implementations of Twonky so that’s a bit of a puzzler. Additionally I continually received connection errors when I tried to stream from Plex to a Windows Phone. Although it did display thumbnails of the movies, I was never able to stream to that device.

I also encountered issues with oddball codecs, but you’ll do fine if you stick with the common ones–MPEG-1, MPEG-2, h.264, WMV, and the like–and your clients use modern 64-bit operating systems.

Recommended

The My Passport Wireless Pro ameliorates every complaint we had about its predecessor. It has a lot more juice, it can stream one way or another to every portable device out there, it’s easy to use, and it has the ability to charge other devices. That’s as good as it gets in portable Wi-Fi drives.

 

 

[Source: Macworld]