Using iPad as a 2nd Monitor–Duet Display

Within this year, I see myself spending more time outside of my office than in the office which is rather something that I am looking for. There are times when I just needed one more monitor than just the laptop itself so that I can cross-reference some documents on Excel Spreadsheet along with what is being displayed on the main monitor especially when I am meddling with the system configurations of the customer systems.

Ideas have been storming into my mind all these while but every time a new idea emerged, I will start to think of the Pros and Cons. I did remember my good friend Matt Hitchcock has recommended to me the ASUS MB169+ which is an awesome piece of gadget! However, there are many constraints that prevented me from getting one of those external monitors that are powered by USB.

  1. I am using a HP Elitebook 840 G3 which comes with Two USB ports. I am generally happy with this machine as I have upgraded it to 16GB and it has built-in SSD which makes running a full lab that able to simulate the whole Condeco Enterprise suite of products.
  2. Although I am using a TUMI Alpha 2, it does have space limitation too although it is really huge! Moreover, I didn’t want to intentionally carry a truck full of loots with me each time I travel from place to place.
  3. Do I really need to lug around a 15” monitor with me all day long?

Therefore, I did a search online and chanced upon this software known as Duet Display. This generally fits into my use-case as I recently just upgrade my iPad Mini Generation 1 to a refurbished set of iPad Air 2 which I am really happy with till now.

Duet Display is free to download on your Mac OS X or Windows computer as the licensing is count towards the device you used as the additional screen. In terms of pricing, it is on the high side of an iOS application as it is priced at SGD 28.98.

Nevertheless, being productive at whatever one is doing is getting more and more important to me. I aimed to be able to improve and increase productivity for not just myself but for all the people around me who are keen to do so. On the flip side, the money spent on the App isn’t that significant anymore because I always believe that if one can splurge on good meals, they should be responsible for their own productivity. Therefore, one should invest in their well-beings. In the past, I have used other application which taps on the Wireless Network in order to connect as a secondary screen but the disadvantage of that would be it is always dependent on the wireless strength.

The setup of the application and have it connect to my Windows 10 laptop isn’t that difficult and can be done swiftly within 10 minutes including the time taken to download the application. Connect the iPad with the lightning cable and everything works like a charm. Here is a photo of the end result.

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Below is the step of step setting up of the application on my iPad after downloading from the Apple App Store.

1. The Application is easily found in the Apple App Store.

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2. Welcome screen

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3. Guide you to install the necessary software on your Mac OS or Windows computer.

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4. Typical application behaviour where they will ask you for permission to allow notifications to be shown. One thing that caught my eye is that it will keep track on how many hours that the software provides in terms of Productive Hours. This just co-relate with, how much frustrations has been saved and how much time was saved just by able to be more productive.

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5. Next is the signing up of marketing emailers.

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6. Now the most essential part where it is awaiting for the iPad to be connected.

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Once the iOS powered device is connected, it will automatically launch iTunes (if you have it installed) and automatically it will connect and display as a secondary screen as shown earlier in this post.

Some of the highlights of this Application is the help screen which generally gives me a very neat feeling.

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If you have an Apple iPad and wish to increase your productivity by having an additional screen, please go ahead and try out Duet Display.

Cheers,
Milton

Milton and his Microsoft Band

Kudos and big thank to Matthew Hitchcock (Microsoft PowerShell MVP and the Lead for Singapore PowerShell User Group) for bringing me one of this Microsoft Band from the US after his trip there for Microsoft MVP Summit (one of the perk as a Microsoft MVP! I am waiting for this chance to go too!).

Unboxing Process

So I collected this from Matthew on the day where we had our Community Technology Update (CTU) in Microsoft Singapore office. So it looks like this before I unwrap it.

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Finally I ripped off the bag to unveil the surprise inside (of course I know what I was expecting!) but still there is “WoW” factor!

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Matthew has helped to get extra charging cable and I am more than happy to buy it from him because I felt it is really helpful in this scenario.

  1. I could have one plug to my home computer and use it for charging when I am home during the evening.
  2. I could have the other one in my bag where I lug around everyday!
  3. I could use the one in my bag when I goes travelling.
  4. Act as a spare one if either one spoiled.

Now have a closer look at the FRONT OF THE BOX.

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Now have a closer look at the BACK OF THE BOX.

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Now have a closer look at the SIDE OF THE BOX. Now it tells you that this Band is friendly with all the three popular mobile platform but definitely have better integrate with Windows platform such as Cortana.

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I really like the way Microsoft has done this sizing thingy as I have never come across this before! Prior to getting this Band, I did print out the sizing guide downloadable from Microsoft Store US site to do the sizing. Of course with my big size wrist, I am definitely not hanging on with anything below Large.

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Now, after so many images, we are still UNBOXING it. We unbox it from one box to unveil another box.

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Microsoft has packaged it in a way that you are like opening the next watch box such as Hamilton one. (Well, I am aiming for one too but for now, I am still going for Smart Watches.)

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Connecting it for the First Time

First thing to do is to remove the cable from the box and connect it between the Band and your computer.

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Take a look at the back view of the Band.

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The next thing the Band instruct is to get the Application (Microsoft Health App) from the various store.

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It will toggle between this message and how you can connect it via BlueTooth to it from your phone.

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The overall setup is very easy and seamless, there is no complex games in it and no difficulty was faced during the process. For this, we give it a 5 stars out of 5.

 

Setup Process

Welcome screen of the Mobile Application.

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Sign in with your Microsoft Account (Live Account) and you are good to go!

Upon successful pairing up the phone with the Band, you will expect this screen.

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You are able to do some customization and personalization of the look on the face of the Band. Look at how the display changes when different colour and wallpaper is being selected. This will then be synchronized to the Band via Bluetooth.

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It continues to get things set up……

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So by default since this is the best time the Band was setup, there isn’t anything in the statistics.

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Using it for the First Time

The next important thing after buying the Band and Setting it up is, to wear the band. So I put on the band for the first time on a Monday where I set off to work.

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For whatever reason it is that the face of the Band has to be faced down, I wouldn’t know why and I wouldn’t want to pursue it. However, I only know that it is much easier to view messages coming in in a discreet manner compared if the face of the Band were to face up.

I took a long walk but was a little early so I stopped over at the cafe to have a cup of Milk Tea.

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What I like it to measure?

So after wearing it for an hour before grabbing a cup of tea, this is the number of steps that I have walked and measured by the Band.

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The things that I like how the Band gathered is:

  1. My Heart Rate
  2. Steps that I walked
  3. Calories Burnt

 

There are a lot more apps that can be connected to the Microsoft Band for now and definitely more are in the process of building. I have full trust with Microsoft that the next version of this band would definitely have significant improvement!

Cheers.
Milton Goh

Unboxing of Gadget–Toshiba Encore Mini

This post serves as my thoughts after viewing the blog post from the SharePoint Guru & MVP Todd Klindt.

I couldn’t see no reason not to buy one set of this to meddle with since it is really selling at a cheap price! Where on earth could you find a tablet with full load of Windows 8.1 at just USD 99?

So here is just my unboxing experience of this little monster. I will explain on how do I go about ordering one of this from the States later on since I resides in Singapore.

 

General Unboxing

The box is designed rather normal, just like any laptop that you can find in the market. I find it rather decent – probably this outlook earns a 4.5 out of 5.

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This is the side of the box clearly stated this is a Toshiba Encore Mini WT7-C16MS. My feel of the reason why the code “MS” appears is because this was a set that is resell by Microsoft US directly out. (I may be wrong, do not fault me!)

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Now, I shall open up the box and get welcomed by Windows 8 along with the Microsoft Signature Experience. This is the program that is available in the US where computers sold by Microsoft US that is enrolled into this program will have some perks tagged with it. Click on the link to check it out.

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One thing that I love about getting Microsoft products is that, I am never lack of getting other perks like Skype World Unlimited or Office 365 plans. Seriously Microsoft, I salute you!

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We are all good with the packaging, let’s now dive in deeper with what is inside the box.

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Does it look pretty decent too? Well, there must be something that you think it is short off such as the power adapter? Well, I think that isn’t on the mandatory list since the price is so cheap! The set itself is so light and battery could be charged easily via USB to another computer or if you have some of the 3rd party adapter; it will get the job done.

Let’s take a look at the side of the tablet.

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Remember to read the notices carefully! (Well, I ripped it off after taking this photo!)

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Comparison (vs Apple iPad Mini Gen 1 & vs Samsung Galaxy Note 3)

Let’s have the Toshiba tablet as a benchmark.

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Then we put the Apple iPad Mini Generation 1 beside it.

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I feel that the Toshiba tablet is about 2/3 of the size compared to the Apple iPad Mini. Screen size is definitely way smaller because of the Microsoft Licensing to the manufacturer that if anything that goes below certain inches (from time to time, this may change – therefore I am not quoting any sizes here), the license to the Windows client will be made free. This in terms bring the benefits to Manufacturer and Consumers. (Cheers to Microsoft again!)

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The back view of the two devices. Seems rather ok but at this time, I feel that the Toshiba tablet gives me a very “plastic” feeling where it may be more fragile than the Apple iPad Mini but anyway, an iPad Mini can purchase how many Toshiba tablet? (Do the mathematics yourself!)

 

Getting Stuffs from Microsoft US Store to Singapore

The answer to this problem is to thanks comGateway service of BuyForMe. I made the order via their online portal by inputting the details of the product I am looking for since Microsoft US Store only allows US credit card to be used for making payment. This is something that happened way before since my Toshiba tablet has arrived to Singapore already.

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The mobile application that comGateway has notified me via Push Notification and email that my items that I have engaged them to assist in the purchased has arrived at the US address and is pending the next action from me.

Administrative Fee

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Now, you must be wondering how much fee I have paid. Look at the image above, it clearly stated that the processing fee is US $4.95. The fee is so low (as it is 5% of the price of the total purchased order) that I could probably missed a cup of StarBucks drink just for this tablet.

Shipping Fee

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The shipping charges from US to Singapore is US $30. Well, does it make sense to you? Ship 3 of this tablet back to Singapore would get me one tablet for free. I see it as a form of investment to calm the little monster in me in which I am always yearning for new gadget. To each its own. If you think that your biggest drawback is the shipping, then probably wait for all these to be made available in Singapore or at least to our neighbouring country.

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This just merely just detailed how much heavy that tablet is in the box. I am poor in understanding how all these shipping charges are tabulated but since I want it OR need it, just get it over and done with.

Is your heart melted by the price tag or are you retreating because of the hefty price to pay for the shipping? Speak to me a little and see how my next purchase could include yours.

Cheers.

Milton Goh

Dell HDMI to VGA Adapter

Recently my company started refreshing all the laptops that are given to the employee who are holding onto selected old model of laptop that are due for refreshed. I have gotten a brand new Dell Latitude E7240 and I really quite like how this laptop is being built.

There is one thing that is really troublesome for all is that, employee used to be using Lenovo X220 which still does have the VGA port on the laptop itself. So when employee who are given the newer series of laptop (Dell Latitude E7240 or E7440), they ponder upon the available display output. I have to admit that in this era, we are still stuck with using projectors that doesn’t come with HDMI port but rather come built with two VGA ports. I believe it will take some time before all projects are being refreshed with at least with HDMI display input.

Therefore, in order to solve the problem of using a latest piece of hardware on older technologies or rather bridging the usage, company will need to bundle in the cost to make sure adequate adapter is being purchase to supply to those who needs it.

So I scrambled upon to my department administrator and able to justify that since I am / will be doing presentation based on my job scope, I am able to justify the total usage. Therefore, I can skip the step of raising any request to make purchases. Smile

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This is the Dell HDMI to VGA Adapter, nothing too fanciful about as it works the same as many other 3rd party adapter that is available in the market right now. However, one thing to comment is that I really like how Dell actually design this packaging. It gives me an elegant feeling although it is rather simple. Perhaps it is the colour scheme used which really matches my taste. This adapter cost around SGD 49.00 listed in the Dell website which I think it is rather high because there are other 3rd party one that is priced at SGD 35.00 which can be easily found from any IT Departmental store.

Cheers.

Milton Goh

Samsung Galaxy Note 3 Extra Battery Kit

On the 11th August this year, I went back to army camp to serve two weeks In-Camp Training (ICT) and I was happy that my camp is being flag as Green Zone. This is the kind of initiative that acknowledges what Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) has taken into consideration the suggestions given by National Service Men (NSMEN). This has really changes the attitude of NSMEN towards coming back to attend their ICT. It is because, with my mobile phone, I solve a couple of key issues.

  1. I do not need to switch to a non-camera phone candy-bar phone that I have been using since 2008 during my active times.
  2. I am able to catch up with my work email as and when possible during breaks.
  3. Information such as the contacts are at my fingertips through my usual phone.
  4. Entertainment during commuting is possible, not mandatory.
  5. Keeping up with social media. (Yes, my life revolves around social media, connecting people always!)

Here come the problem… Can smartphone out-win the battery life of a dumb phone? Well, the advantage of dumb phone is that the battery life is really really long! So I search on the forum and make sure that I optimize the settings to make sure it uses the least battery as much as possible. Here is some points that I have realized in order to get longer battery usage lifetime:

  1. Turn of the ever-synchronizing email – Well, my phone kept me connected to my work/personal/community email and make sure that I am reachable as much as possible. Turning this off means shutting the means to alert me whenever an email has arrived in my mailbox(es).
  2. Dim down the brightness of the screen – This is really painful especially when I am under bright sunlight and I could barely see anything on the phone.
  3. Use 3G cellular only! – No more speedy connection on the 4G network. – Well, not that bad right?
  4. Turn of data – Well, to be honest, this wasn’t an option to me. It just meant that I am using my smartphone as a dumb phone which is something that I will never ever compromise on.

So what kept me through the possible number of nights of outfield without power source? Yes, I could bring lots of power-bank with me but definitely there are a lot of downside to it such as being bulky and heavy.

I chose to try out the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 Extra Battery Kit. It looks like this…

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Pricey? Yes and No. Samsung do carry and sells the battery itself but it is just SGD 9-10 different and this kit reminds me of the past where people always fancy “desktop charger”. It’s the kind of luxury where you need not be hooked on to the charger at the wall plug all the time while the phone is charging.

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So it does Enhance my mobile smart life?

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Photo with all the items laid out on my desk…

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It possesses a simple but elegant look. There is something which I realize after using it for two weeks. The LED indicator as shown above only turn green if I uses the original Samsung Charger to charge. If I were to charge it with the 3rd Party Charger (Innergie Duo USB Wall Charger) ones, it doesn’t seems to be able to turn green even charging it for hours! It’s straight but it is kind of “smart” or would you regard it as “dumb”?

Cheers.

Regards,
Milton Goh

Innergie Duo USB Wall Charger

As a mobile warrior who travels around Singapore for work purposes, I always complain how much I hate lugging on to heavy backpack that consists of my work laptop and other devices that keeps me connected to the internet world. So it has came to attention that because of the number of mobile devices that I have with me (Samsung Galaxy Note 3, Apple iPad and Samsung Galaxy Note 2); I realize that relying on the battery is totally impossible and therefore whenever I end up on one of the client site, I would definitely take all my charger to ensure that my devices are at least packed with more juices before I set off for another meeting.

I enjoy music while on the road a lot and whenever I left my earphone at home, I would complain that I am really lifeless! So music-less == lifeless? Oh well, that’s me! So recently I hooked up with a Bluetooth headphone (Jabra Rox) and I really love the convenient that I get for not tangling myself with cable. The headphone connects to my Samsung Galaxy Note 3 which I plays music of Spotify.

So with so many devices and each has it owns connector and different power consumption, I decided that I should end my pain of bringing so many chargers with me everyday and aim for a change with Innergie Duo USB Wall Charger that I picked off the shelf at the local computer store, Challenger.

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It looks simple just like any other charger head right?

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One thing that attracts me to pay over (SGD 40) for this is the keyword “Fast”! Well, who wants a slow charger? If I want a slow one, I would rather sticking back to USB charging via my laptop. One thing in fact why I need the “Fast” charging is because in the Samsung Galaxy Note series of the phone, the battery is huge, so is the phone! Therefore, charging via USB really kill my time. What is worst is when I am on the phone while charging, the amount of battery it drains is much more than how much it is consumed via charging it.

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Some of the specifications, those pretty much standard stuffs.

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Another thing that it is cool about is the 3 years warranty that I will be enjoying! Of course I wouldn’t want it to fail me…

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It’s in action right now!

I have not really tested the different between charging using Innergie and the original charger that comes with the various devices. I think it is worth while to take the measurement, I will do that the very next time!

Cheers.
Milton Goh

Little bump to my home lab–Crucial M500 mSATA Hard Drive

During the weekend, I have decided that I should be replacing one of the mSATA drive on one of my Intel NUC which I used primarily to run Virtual Machines on Hyper-V.

So I did some research and bought the cheapest available (> 200GB) mSATA. I chose the Crucial M500 240GB mSATA primary because of the price factor. It cost me SGD 189 for 240GB of space. This make sense because it just translate to less than a dollar per GB.

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If you are an owner of Intel NUC or Gigabyte Brix, please really consider a higher capacity one. I realize that in the market, anything that is more than 200GB and less than 400GB is worth while at this moment for the price per GB cost.

Cheers.

Milton Goh

Valore USB 3.0 Hub for my Surface Pro 2

It’s time that I realize that I would need to spend a little on this gadget. I never had any affinity with USB Hub because for those that I bought in the past always fails me after a while. This makes me worry when I need to put on investments into spending bucks on it. So while doing shopping at the local computer store, Challenger yesterday, I walked into the store with the aim to walk out with a USB Hub. So while trying to find the various brands, I am always directed at those from Valore where it seems to storm the whole of Challenger nationwide with their line of products. Nevertheless, let me present to you – Valore 4 Ports USB 3.0 Hub.

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For goodness sake, I don’t know why of all colours I start to choose colour that I wouldn’t have chosen in the past. Perhaps, it’s Nokia Lumia that changed my mind!

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Looking at the packaging, it is really simple and neat. Somehow I feel that the design is like a battery pack though. I hooked up to my Surface Pro 2 and everything is working amazing as it should be.

Cheers.
Milton Goh

Automation: Using Synology Task Scheduler

As part of the continuous series about “Automation”, I took a look at how my Synology DS 412+ could be part of the story. The situation is where every Monday of the week, my lab environment will need to be shut down as my helpers will be cleaning up my desk area therefore based on my past experiences where they meddle with my electrical appliances and causes it to shut down; therefore I always shut down all my equipment on Monday. However, lately I am getting a little lazy of shutting them down via the readily available web-console so I took a look at the Task Scheduler within Synology NAS.

Let’s take a look at what it offers.

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It looks amazing with lots to offer with the hefty price to pay for the tip-top performance that I am enjoying!

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After navigating to “Hardware & Power”, I take a look at the “Power Schedule”.

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I am able to set the schedule freely!

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Within a few clicks, I am able to configure the NAS to shut down by itself at 3.15am on a Monday, prior to shutting down the NAS, I would have use some PowerShell scripts to shut down all the Virtual Machine that uses the NAS and the lab server to be shut down too.

It’s amazing to have all these automatically shut down without manual intervention!

Cheers!
Milton Goh

[Gadget] Seagate Backup Plus Portable Hard Disk

During lunch time yesterday, I pop by Challenger at Plaza Singapura hoping to grab a new portable hard disk for work purposes due and other miscellaneous. I was pondering between whether to grab a thumb drive which is huge (something around the 64GB capacity range) but was worried about the speed I am getting for reading and writing of data to and fro the thumb drive. Later on, I further decided that I should go for a portable hard disk is because with the extract disk space, I could probably store some VHDs (Virtual Hard Disk) that is used for my Hyper-V instance on my Surface Pro 2. I was thinking that since I would need to lug around the portable hard drive, so why not just get one that is huge enough for my day-to-day needs. Moreover, a portable hard disk nowadays comes with USB 3.0 which gives me superb transmitting speed!

Seagate or Western Digital?

This is always the question to be, I have never ever consider any other brand other than Seagate and Western Digital unless it is the price factor that I am going for which Samsung or Hitachi may then hit the right spot for consideration. So I have been using my Western Digital MyPassport for a longest while (around 2 years) and it is still going strong! However, due to the amount of space I have on my Surface Pro 2 now, I usually dump huge files that I would regular used only when I am home to the portable hard drive that is connected to my Surface Pro 2 via the docking station.

I believe in the durability that Western Digital provides but Seagate seems to be getting better these days. I used to have one of the Seagate portable drive but ended up donating to one of the project in my company which I couldn’t be bothered to go all way to activate all the resources just to get back my portable drive which seems to have helped the customer eases a lot of their problem as they are using that drive mainly to archive the server logs.

So it boils down to the preference of the individual right now in choosing the ideal brand.

So the pricing does plays a part?

Yes, I would say pricing does play a part. You could simply get a portable hard drive from any brands with a good 2TB of space for less than $150, but definitely brands like Western Digital or Seagate would not be in the radar. The price of the Western Digital MyPassport is not very far fetched from the Seagate Backup Plus, the differences is just SGD 20.

Final Verdicts

In the end, I chose Seagate Backup Plus instead because the Western Digital MyPassport is rather similar to the same as the one that I have at home and I do not really like to get duplicates because I simply love to enjoy the best of the both world. The Seagate Backup Plus offers more colour choices and the finishing of the texture seems better compared to the Western Digital MyPassport.

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Let’s compare side by side!

So let’s see how it looks like if I put the two hard disk side by side each other.

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I would love to owe one of the slim type of each brands but the capacity of those are hovering around 500GB which makes no sense to me in terms of economical and portability since it doesn’t differ much from its parent version.

Cheers.
Milton Goh