Archive for July, 2007


Review of IDE to SATA adapter

July 27, 2007

This small adapter allows you to connect SATA drives to older parallel IDE ports on your motherboard. Works well and very inexpensive

This is the final one of my SATA adapter adventures. This adapter plugs directly into an IDE port on your motherboard. You connect a SATA cable and power to it. Utterly seamless and requires no drivers. it comes with a SATA cable and molex power connection cable.

SATA to IDE adapter

I connected my 250GB SATA drive to it and have successfully copied over 75GB of data in one go from existing SATA drive to it.

If you have a mixture of IDE and SATA ports on your motherboard, then this is the perfect way to convert one of the IDE ports over.

Highly recommended and very inexpensive (€5.46 including P&P on eBay) 

Rated 5/5 on Jul 27 2007 by Mr C
LouderVoice Review Tags: , , , , , , ,
Vote on this review or write your own at LouderVoice

Review of SATA and PIDE RAID PCI Card

July 27, 2007


This PCI card has 2x internal SATA, 1x external PCI and 1x internal IDE ports. Very cheap and ideal for older tower machines with lots of drive bays.

Given the only partial success I had with the SATA to USB adapter, I tried again with a very inexpensive (€11 on eBay yet again!) PCI card. This one had a good mix of ports 2x internal SATA, 1x external PCI and 1x internal IDE.

It came with a single SATA cable and drivers mini-CD which identified it as a VIA VT6421 RAID Controller. Installation was trivial.

PCI SATA and IDE adapter

As a backup I had also ordered an even cheaper IDE->SATA adapter and installed this at the same time as the PCI card. I’ll review that next.

I decided not to connect the SATA drive to the new PCI card but in fact to connect the DVD burner to it on the PIDE port. The only difficulty here was the orientation of the socket forces you to bend the IDE cable back on itself.

The DVD drive is working flawlessly and I still have 3 more SATA connectors for any more SATA drives that I add. Performance seems good and I’ll report back if I add a SATA drive to it.

Highly recommended if you need more drive ports. As it was an eBay purchase you’ll need to browse that vendors eBay shop to find the latest one on auction.

Rated 4/5 on Jul 27 2007 by Mr C

Review of SATA to USB Adapter

July 26, 2007

SATA to USB Adapter

This no-name adapter allows you to connect SATA drives to USB ports. Useful when you run out of SATA ports for backup drives. Not 100% reliable.

I bought a 250GB SATA harddrive recently and realised I’d made a big boo-boo when I opened the computer and discovered I only had 2 SATA connections and they were both in use.

Initially I thought of getting an external enclosure which connected via USB but decided I preferred to keep the drive inside the case.

I found a very inexpensive SATA-USB adapter on eBay and ordered it. Unfortunately I was also out of SATA power leads and separately ordered some Molex-SATA convertors/splitters for a few Euro from a UK supplier on eBay.

The USB adapter arrived and I installed everything. I connected it to one of the internal USB ports on the back of one of my PCI USB cards.

SATA to USB adapter

Initial signs were good but then I tried to copy 75GB of data to the drive. After 25GB I got the dreaded “failed write to device” error I haven’t seen in several years from a USB storage device.

I nearly gave up but tried connecting to a second, different model of PCI USB card. So far I’ve copied about 90GB with no issue. However, just to be safe, I’ve bought a cheap PCI SATA adapter and will test that and report back with a review.

Rated 3/5 on Jul 26 2007 by Mr C

Review of Bluetooth 2.0 USB Adapter

July 26, 2007

Bluetooth 2.0 USB Adapter

This no-name device works like a charm. Tiny, fast with Nokia N70 and decentish BlueSoleil drivers. Dirt cheap on eBay

I’ve had a tough time with Bluetooth adapters over the years. I’ve never found them very reliable and always dog slow. However at time I found it easier to get a 3G data connection using my mobile phone using bluetooth rather than the dreaded Nokia data cable.

I was looking for some cheap components on eBay recently and spotted a new Bluetooth 2.0 adapter for almost nothing. The main advantage of 2.0 is speed. Probably still not up to HSDPA which explains why those 3G modems are USB rather than Bluetooth.

I impulse purchased it and have been so happy with it that I bought a second one. At €7.50 incl P&P from Hong Kong who can resist?

Bluetooth 2.0 USB adapter

When setup and with the BlueSoleil drivers installed, Nokia PC Suite works very reliably with it. I’ve had stability issues in the past with BlueSoleil. I’ve also had upgrade problems where they claimed my old adapter was basically supplied with a non-authorised copy of the software. I hope the same is not the case this time.

The only real problem comes when you remove the adapter and re-insert later. The drivers are OK with it but the Nokia PC Suite rubbish refuses to re-make the connection until a reboot is done.

I also managed to get my Bluetooth headset working with my desktop using this adapter. Now I have hands-free wire-free Skype calls.

Highly recommended.

As it is no-name you need to search for Bluetooth 2.0 on the Kabrothers eBay shop and find the latest one on offer.

Rated 4/5 on Jul 26 2007 by Mr C


Review of Windows Live OneCare

July 12, 2007

The idea is sound but the implementation leaves a lot to be desired. Currently cannot recommend over AVG+ZoneAlarm+Search&Destroy.

I’ve used pretty much every Anti-Virus package out there since 1990. Way back it was McAfee on MSDOS after getting hit with some of the original Bulgarian viruses in college. For years it remained McAfee in various incarnations both consumer and Enterprise. Solid product but one which went nuts on occasion, locking up machines.

In recent years I’ve used

  • Panda – bad value, minimal configurability and they spam you forever afterwards
  • Symantec/Norton – Cripples your machine’s performance, seems to need constant updates and attention. Pricey.
  • AVG – Rock solid. Pay-for one not sufficiently better than free one. Recommend free one to all my family. Always works.

And now, Windows Live OneCare. There were two reasons for buying if. First as a Beta tester I got three licences for a year for €19 which is a bargain. Secondly I liked the idea of having one integrated package with did anti-virus, firewall and anti-malware. Whilst the freebie combo of AVG, Zone Alarm and Search&Destroy works well, they don’t work together.

Initial impressions were terrible, I found it impossble to install and kept getting redirected to a variety of conflicting Beta/Free/Pay help and registration sites. I opened a help ticket and after a few days sorted it out – the date was wrong on the machine. What a stupid reason to fail installation!

Since then it seems to do an ok Anti-Virus job but missed a Trojan that AVG caught. The main problem is that when it does a full scan, it never finishes and goes to 100% CPU.

The biggest annoyance in the Firewall is something which Zone Alarm figured out years ago. When a new app tried to access the internet, rather than “holding” the request and asking you if it is ok, it denies the request and then asks you if it is ok. With some apps, you don’t get a “retry” option and can get stuck with a half-usable product.

I turned off the whole backup part of the product since it was more hassle than it was worth.

Monthly tune-up goes to 100% CPU too so that’s a waste of time

I haven’t encountered the anti-malware in operation yet.

I will not be renewing my subscription to this, it is barely acceptable as a free product.

Rated 2/5 on Jul 12 2007 by Mr C

Review of Sasha II Power Girl’s Bicycle

July 5, 2007

This very basic girl’s bike from Smyth’s is not of very high quality. Halford’s are probably offering better value in their own-brand range.

My three year old daughter badgered us for a bike all of last summer. We finally succummed and went looking late in the summer. The good guys in West End Cycles in Ballincollig were very expensive coming in around €160 for even a basic bike. We tried the new Smyth’s at the Kinsale Road roundabout and their value was much better even if the selection was not.

We settled on a very basic 14″ bike that came in slightly over €100 on the basis that our kids always trash their first bikes so there is no point in spending money on quality.

The bike was a pig to assemble and took over an hour and a half. She loved it instantly and seems to be a natural on a bike. However in retrospect we should have spent a few quid more on something more robust. The main problems are the terrible brakes. First the entire lever assembly is made of plastic and the clamp for the handlebar broke after a very short time. It is now held on with duct tape. They are old style side-pull brakes and are totally useless at stopping and finally the actual brake mechanism has rusted to hell after only a few months. The stabilisers are not great either.

Smyth's Power Sasha II

Having said all of that she is happy with it and since we went for a bigger frame, it should last her until she is five (if it doesn’t fall apart first)

Overall I would say to pay maybe €10-20 more for a bike with better brakes, particularly if, like us, your estate has a hill in it.

Rated 3/5 on Jul 05 2007 by Mr C