Hi guys! That’s me, your favorite Dr. Plextor yet again. Half of the summer has gone by and I have not really got a chance to do much. Unfortunately, whenever the weather was nice, I was stuck in the office (mind you, I still love my job but I missed quite some sun) and whenever I had some spare time, the weather was terrible, raining cats and dogs, not literally of course.

What do you think I did with my time? Well, those of you who have been following the lab sessions from the very beginning, probably can easily guess. Hello? Anyone? Yes, correct. I spent my evenings cozy in my room with a couple of good friends and the newest PC games.

This can surely explain the topic of today’s lab session. You are right, we are going to discuss new games of Summer 2014, some of them I have already played and some I really look forward to.

Let’s start with the newest Transformers game: Transformers: Rise of the Dark Spark. The game was released on June 24 and I am yet to buy it because I just love all things “transformers” and do not miss a chance to explore the game, and also because I loved the movie which was  released just two days after the game release. The Transformers: Age of Extinction movie by Michael Bay was really cool, and I expect the game which was described as a “video game complement” to the movie to be at least as cool as the movie.

The official press release gives enough hints at what to expect in the game, and I truly hope that the hant for the Dark Spark will prove to be enjoyable, plus I love the idea of being able to switch between the heroes of the Autobots and the Decepticons. Let’s see how the game turns out.

Another game I want to talk about ‑ Murdered: Soul Suspect – was released in the very beginning of Summer, on June 2. I tried it and while it might cause mixed emotions, overall I liked this one. At least, the developers dared to create something different. It is a cool detective game where you actually can focus on detection itself instead of getting dragged from one clue to another where you do not really have a chance to prove your powers of observation and ability to analyse facts.

Of course, that’s not a video game that turns you into Sherlock Holmes but still the game creates a great sense of understanding what it means to be a real detective where you try to find your own killer So, the story and characters are pretty strong, the atmosphere is utmost creepy and the focus is on investigation. What are you waiting for? Dive in!

Well, Summer is pretty slow and boring for new releases, so I can’t actually add anything more to that. The next game I look forward to will only be out in September – that is FIFA 2015. But I guess my interest is really boosted by all the World Cup hype this year!

Anyways, share with me what games you  play this summer.

Hello my dear friends! Have you missed me? Don’t worry I will not be offended if you did not. I understand, summer is there and you probably try to use every opportunity to spend some time in the fresh air. I know I would but unfortunately the weather here is not quite to my liking. As I am writing this, it is raining, and I am stuck inside my lab. Don’t get me wrong, I like my lab. With all the cool equipment here, it is the closest you get to paradise. But right now I would really want to have some sunshine.

Anyways, the rain provided me with a great opportunity to write another article for you my dear readers. I assume that since you follow my lab articles since the very beginning, you have now deep knowledge of SSD advantages. You also know all the criteria based on which you can choose the right SSD for yourself or as a gift. Let me remind you, we are talking here about the controller, performance, price and capacity. The ideal SSD will have the best of all four parameters.

But even despite all that I regularly receive emails with people asking me to recommend an SSD. The question I get more often than others is about what is the right capacity of an SSD. Let’s make this the topic of our today’s lab session.

First of all, before you purchase an SSD you have to decide why you actually need it. What is the main purpose of you buying it? Do you just want to improve the performance and accelerate the speed of your system, are you a hardcore gamer, or do you need an SSD to get a better results when working with photos and audio files?

Let me help you navigate through the variety of SSDs and their capacities.

  • 64 Gb: It is perfect for the installation of the operating system and a few applications.
  • 128 Gb: This option is great for the installation of the operating system, a few application and small games.
  • 256 Gb: SSDs in this capacity are great for the installation operating system, some games, as well as storing some not very large audio and video files.
  • 512 Gb: This is a great option for the installation of the operating system, applications, games and even storing your library of music and video files.

However, I still recommend to add an extra drive for storing most of the files. Based on your budget it can be both an SSD or an HDD. You should understand that the price obviously depends on the capacity and the higher the capacity, the higher the price, however, right now the prices for SSD are at a very comfortable level and you can easily get yourself an SSD (or two). You can take a look at the latest Plextor products, our new M6S series is fast, reliable and what is also important very budget-friendly. They come in 128, 256 and 512Gb and are capable of reaching 94,000 / 80,000 IOPS on random read and write, as well as 520 / 440 MB/s speeds on sequential read and write.

I hope now you will have less questions about the capacity of the SSD and will be able to pick just the right SSD for you. Which one will that be?

Today we’re been asked to share a few of our video editing tricks with you, so here goes: 

Simple and quick grading with Lightroom

If you don’t have or are unfamiliar with color grading software you can use Adobe Lightroom as a stand in.  It allows you to alter the:  White balance, exposure, contrast, whites blacks, saturation, vibrancy, tone curve, split toning, and calibration.  Lightroom won’t allow you to enter the develop tab for video, but you can capture a frame from the video (use the square at the end of the playback line), develop that and save it as a preset that you can apply to the video. This is also great way to quickly pre-grade clips ready for editing and final grading. 

Syncing audio – use left and right side audio to match it up

You’re trying to sync a video clip that has awful sound and a clear audio source – auto-syncing’s out, the waveforms have nothing in common, and visually you don’t have anything to match to so what do you do?  Use your ears and headphones! Start off with roughly lining it up using by listening for and timing to a point that you can hear in the audio. Then reduce the volume on the master audio and throw sound to the right and then the clip audio to the left.  Now make small adjustments until the echo disappears when you play it. 

Photoshop and PowerPoint, the poor man’s After Effects

Many of us are familiar with Photoshop as an advanced still image editing tool, but did you know that it does video too? There is even a motion workspace setup ready.  All the basic tools are here and you can apply filters to video.  Although it’s not a perfect video editor, it’s a simple way to add the assets of a still project to video or add creative looking titles without making the graphic designer learn a new package.

Similarly if you’re looking for a simple, but professional one-off title we’ve found that PowerPoint really does produce better results for still text that can be manipulated as an image than any of the titling plugins that are sold with editing software.   At times when we’ve had time limitations and only laptops available we’ve pre-rendered what we could in After Effects and dropped PowerPoint created text on top – nobody has ever noticed. 

Use external SSDs via USB 3.0 to speed up workflow

Video production houses have vast arrays for media storage and fast networks to connect them – in the field and in smaller cost conscious companies this isn’t an option.  So how do you transport, share, edit large media files? External HDs and thumb drives don’t have the speed required for broadcast quality HD.  The answer is portable SSDs or more precisely 2.5 inch SSDs with SATA to USB 3.0 adapters.  They offer speed and are more durable than HDs (a drop or bad jolt can destroy an external HD drive quite easily). If you’re thinking that a normal thumb drive is a substitute you should be aware that not only will a good USB 3.0 thumb drive typically be an eighth of the speed of an SSD, it won’t have the higher endurance long life flash that an SSD has.  We use Plextor M5 Pro SSD’s paired with the Plextor to USB adapters and cases.  There are other brands on the market that provide similar benefits, but the Marvell based Plextor’s provide very consistent performance for video and come with a 5-year warranty.  When selecting a SSD for this purpose you should check that the SSD controller will perform well enough with the random style data of video files (some of the older Sandforce based models will slow down drastically). Do also ensure that the SSD will perform at high speed when used externally and buy one with strong error checking to minimize corruption with heavy use. 

Audacity helps with bad audio

We often shoot in noisy environments and Audacity has been a godsend.  Use the  FFmpeg import/export library to import movie file audio and use the noise reduction plugin.  If you know how noisy the environment is going to be and you have a way of doing it record a separate noise track away from your interviewee and use Audacity to  subtract the noise from the main track. 

We hope you find these tips useful, this article is sponsored by Plextor.

Hello guys. Don’t you think it is a little slow this summer? All the games I want to play have fall release dates!  But the weather’s making me think of getting out of Japan and going on vacation Have you already been on vacation? Or maybe you are counting down the days until one? Let me know where you’ve been/are going.

Anyhow, sorry for getting off topic here. You probably are wondering what exactly the title of today’s lab session means. Let’s speculate a little.

60 months. It is 1,826 days, probably 1,827 if there are two leap years in there. 43,824 hours (roughly). 2,629,440 minutes. I will not go into seconds here. You get the drift. That’s a lot of time. Any guesses? I think I heard someone. Yeah, right. It is also five years. Okay, guys, no suspense here anymore. Plextor’s top SSDs are backed by a comprehensive five-year warranty. You sure knew that but have you actually gave it much thought? Like I said it’s a lot of time. 

In 60 months, I could be married and have a baby and would be teaching her (or him) how to install SSDs to a laptop. Or maybe I would travel the world and take my lab with me wherever I go, of course, if my boss lets me.

In 60 months, this blog could have thousands of comments, but to get there, you should start right now, go comment on this post and make history.

In 60 months, the laptop you are using to read this will be replaced by something new and more innovative, probably with Plextor SSD in it. The capacity will definitely be more than 512GB, I have no doubt.

In 60 months, all the devices you have now will be considered outdated and slow. It can be that some of them won’t even survive for that long, or you will just get bored.

In 60 months, your Plextor SSD warranty will expire. But most probably you will never even have to use it. Yes, as you all know, every SSD that we produce comes with this extended warranty because we want to support you in case something went terribly wrong and your SSD  had defect. But that hardly ever happens. In fact, I don’t remember a single time one of my Plextor SSDs has malfunctioned. Plextor has the lowest SSD failure rates in the industry. Our production processes are so carefully managed and a quality control so high, that we can afford providing you with a five-year warranty on our SSDs. That’s the best in the industry and an additional reassurance for you.

Will you need to use the warranty  within the 60 months? Most probably you will never have to claim on it. But it still is good to know it’s there, right?

But knowing you, I can be sure that in 60 months you will probably have some Plextor M10 Pro Xtreme SSD with the capacity of 2TB, and the warranty of five years which again you will never have to claim.

I am not a fortune-teller, but that is what we strive for here in Plextor – excellence and customer satisfaction. Now, and in 60 months, or in 60 years… And I look forward to talking to you five years from now to see how right or wrong I was.

The world of storage has come a long way in a few years and unlike smartphone screens physically smaller is definitely better.  Currently the outside of the average SSD looks very much like its predecessor the hard drive, most of us use 2.5” SATA SSD that slot into relatively large bays in desktops and laptops.   This state of affairs is changing due to the M.2 revolution.   The M.2 form factor is a new standard for SSDs that is being embraced by Intel and by laptop and motherboard manufacturers.   What makes M.2 remarkable is not just the potential for performance, but size or more precisely lack of size.   The M.2 specification is specifically designed to replace the aging mSATA  slot in laptops and to provide a convenient way to introducing ultra-fast storage on desktops.  At the Computex technology show MSI, Asus, ASRock, and Gigabyte all proudly showed their latest M.2 slot high performance motherboards and all were paired with ultra-fast Plextor M6e M.2 PCIe SSDs.   Most were based on Intel 9-series chipset with the exception being ASRock’s AMD based system. 

Performance and Size

To give you an idea of the size and performance of an M.2 drive let’s look at the recently released Plextor M6e M.2 PCIe SSD.  The dimensions are 80.0mm × 22.0mm.  But it reaches a sequential read speed of 770 MB/sec and sequential write speeds of 625MB/sec. Random 4k read speeds reach 105K, and random write speeds hit 100K IOPS.

So if you think that this very thin drive that is about as long and wide as your thumb is already going beyond the  transfer limits of the current SATA Revision 3.0 (600 MB/s) used in you’ll see why M.2 is attracting attention.  This is only the first generation!

Those of you that don’t have currently an M.2 slot can enjoy the performance of this drive by purchasing a M6e HHHL PCIe SSD which is essentially the same drive mounted on an adapter board so it will fit into a standard PCIe slot on desktop machines without a M.2 slot. 

M.2 SATA and PCIe solutions

One point of confusion is that M.2 drives come in both SATA and PCIe varieties.  Annoyingly both varieties of SSDs and M.2 slots look the same.   They also both have the two slits (keys) cut into the  connector for the current generation.  Generally speaking they are not compatible you can only use a PCIe card in a PCIe slot and vice versa.  This means that a bit of careful checking is in order. M.2 SATA drives are found  mostly on laptops and will probably disappear over the next few years as PCIe becomes dominant.

If you require a M.2 SATA SSD there are a number on the market including Plextor’s M6G range which come in 2240 (22 x 40mm), 2260 (22 x 60mm),  and 2280 (22 x 80mm). Although these don’t offer the performance advantage of PCIe drives they are extremely fast with maximum speeds as follows: seq read 520 MB/s, seq. write 450 MB/s, rand. read 95k IOPs, and rand. write 81k IOPs. 

Card length

Most M.2 PCIe cards seems to be 2280 (like the P6e M.2) which is 80 mm long.  SATA M.2 cards more commonly come in more varied sizes so that is also a consideration when upgrading a device that has a M.2 SATA slot.

Conclusion

Packing power into a few cm square M.2 SSDs are quickly finding their way into laptops and desktops.  You shouldn’t be surprised if you next system is a remarkably responsive thanks to these diminutive powerhouses.

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Plextor M6 PRO

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