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back to article Freecom Hard Drive Sq 2TB

Freecom’s Hard Drive Sq is a SuperSpeed USB 3.0 hard drive which is clearly pitched at the growing number of us who have smart TVs and want to be able to record programmes without investing in a Freeview or Freesat DVR. Designed by Berlin-based Iranian designer Armam Emami, the aluminium enclosure looks strikingly like Apple’s …

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Unhappy

I agree

I agree it is expensive. I also wondered what the performance was like and if it was a 5400 or 7200rpm disc. Looked at the handy freecom url and saw datasheets and lovely pdf's etc - still none the wiser. Remarkably as USB3 is new the fashion again as its a USB device is to list the USB standards maxium ideal, with tail wind speed and no hint on the real world speed is taken on the pdf and datasheet by freecom alas. I was also unable to ascertain if as to the speed of the hard disc.

All that said I can't think of any funky TV's that have USB3 on them or indeed need them just yet. So for the price and possible uses i'd question that being a good use for it, given the cost.

Another concideration is that of the length of cable and your nice wallmounted TV might be happy but when you try to attach said drive might find it hanging halfway up the wall, so that is a factor to look at. No LED is nice and and all but not a major selling point given the advent of duck-tape.

I do like that it includes a power supply and is not a totaly bus powered version which is an issue with some USB3 drives plugged into USB2 I have found that run of the bus's power, though no idea if you can run it solely of the USB3 port without the external PSU.

All in all, it's nothing special and for the price you could get something that has a built in mini NAS.

Also the operating temperature seems not suitable for rooms with direct sunlight in the summer, just a thought but a max operating temp of 35c is not enough margin of error for the 2 day british summer in october we have.

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Re: I agree

Seems what you've done here is write a full review of a product based on its spec sheet and not based on real world usage. I was hoping there might be some conclusion, but no.

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Silver badge

Re: I agree

"Another concideration is that of the length of cable..."

You can get extension cables for USB2, and expect the shops will have some USB3 ones knocking about too. Run one down the same conduit as your link to your DVD player/sky box/video player/etc

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The drive needs to be re-formatted?

"The drive needs to be re-formatted, though, so you can’t swap between computer and TV, nor easily retrieve TV recordings and copy them to a PC or Mac."

Eh? What format is that then?

More information required please.

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Re: The drive needs to be re-formatted?

The review doesn't make this at all clear but this is a format that Sony TVs use for recording. Other TVs will use different formats, possibly standard, possibly not.

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Silver badge
Facepalm

Re: The drive needs to be re-formatted?

It's usually EXT2 or EXT3 as almost all STBs and Smart TVs run on some form of Linux.

FAT32 doesn't allow big enough file sizes for most HD recordings and quite a few SD recordings.

- Though on a Sony TV it's probably something completely proprietary that is impossible to mount on anything else (including other Sony TVs) by design intent. Or have they learned that lesson yet?

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Silver badge

Re: The drive needs to be re-formatted?

The Bravia can read from multiple formats. It seems that when connect to a special "output" port the drive will get formatted and the TV will drop encrypted recordings on there. There are comments that the drive can only work with the exact same TV, and the Sony manual have precious little information. So my guess is Sony are using some proprietary crap-ola.

Again.

One more reason to never buy Sony (as if they hadn't given us enough reasons already).

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Facepalm

Duct Tape

PXG - If you're willing to cover an LED with duct tape, what's your problem with taping the drive to the wall with duct tape behind your wall-mounted TV rather than leaving it dangling? I suppose you couldn't tape it to the back of the TV as it might get too warm if the upper operating limit is only 35C.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Duct Tape

Well the only problem I would have in doing that would be that I would have to buy one of these drive's and this also ignores the aspect that I don't have a TV. Though all that said I do have the walls and duct tape.

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So, where's the DIY part?

Is that the part where you connect the hard disk to the tv?

The tv does the formatting of the drive? And, after it's done formatting, the drive is unreadable under Windows, OS X or Linux?

What does the tv do, dvr-wise?

How long is the cable supplied? Does it come with a cable? Easily mountable somewhere?

Other than that, good review ;-)

More details, please!

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Silver badge
Thumb Down

Growing number

"clearly pitched at the growing number of us who have smart TVs and want to be able to record programmes without investing in a Freeview or Freesat DVR

Who are they, then?

Those who can't afford a DVR? Shouldn't have thought so given the cost of this drive.

Those who don't want another box hanging off their TV? OK this thing is smaller than most DVRs, but not that much smaller.

Those who prefer the recording facilities on most TVs to those provided by most DVRs? Shouldn't think so as, AFAIK, there aren't any dual tuner TVs and the record-to-usb feature of all of the TVs I have seen is most definitely in the "afterthought" class.

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Re: Growing number

I use a USB with my "smart" TV.

I got a 1tb USB3 drive for £80 from dabs, so I thought, why not? It's great to record inconsequential stuff (we still like watching "classic" simpsons) or have the latest local news recorded. Just watching something 5-10 minutes after it starts means you can skip the adverts. It also means we can pause live TV, even if it is the "real" TV.

I'd say it's a niche bonus, rather than afterthought.

Of course, the biggest problem with the reviewed USB is power. My TV powers the one I have, so it's only one lead.

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Silver badge

So????

How is that something for a DVR? In DVR solutions you don't need speed, you need space, and 2 Tb surely isn't enough.

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Bronze badge
FAIL

Not so Smart TVs!

Re-formatted so you can't easily copy recordings to a PC? Wow.

It seems Smart TVs are such a long way behind the flexibility of just plugging in a small form factor computer to your TV with HDMI. Zotac ION mini-ITX box here, on 24-7 and consumes under 30W idle, and does everything that you would expect of a regular computer.

They wonder why noone's buying, with proprietory rival application stores, inconsistent file format support and limited portability of data? Also I'd rather not have my TV connected directly to the internet, no doubt uploading my viewing habits to some statistics agency.

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Re: Not so Smart TVs!

Being measured for the tinfoil hat soon I hope?

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Black Helicopters

Re: Not so Smart TVs!

Thank the BBC and Freeview for the restriction on exporting recordings for any Freeview HD product. The output of programmes when signalled must be restricted and the simplest (for manufacturer and to explain to customers) is to prevent all output of recordings. The simple but effective way to do this is to format disk encrypted with a device unique key.

The TV will play a variety of formats off FAT formatted disks so at least you can send from your computer that way.

30W is massive compared to the sub-1W (now mandatory) standby power of TVs. At 13.7p/KWh 30W is about £35/year at idle so there is a real cost to that solution (but I do something very similar with a MythTV based recorder which also functions as home server for various functions including as compute engine for running the test suite for the software I'm building. I playback the video directly on the Sony TV over UPNP/DLNA which works very well).

I do agree with the comments about this being a useless excuse for a review with the main information present being: its quiet.

Black helicopter icon for the BBC conspiring on the quiet to limit the capability of commercial TV recorder products with this "trade secret"* information that has been available in the MythTV project for over 3 years: http://code.mythtv.org/trac/browser/mythtv/mythtv/libs/libmythtv/mpeg/freesat_tables.h

*they also claim other IPR rights over this information which were equally unconvincing and my overall assessment of their real rights in this area were that they probably weren't much more real than SCO's rights over Linux.

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Bronze badge

"No flashing LED indicators"

And you call this a geek treat. Admittedly, on past form, the entire series should be renamed "treats for people who really like Apple products"*.

*I'll spare you the f-word.

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Anonymous Coward

ROTFL

So, let's see...

2 Tb... 180 quid. Fail.

Hang on, how f... much?!

now, Armam Emami, it does sound like Armani... but not quite. Fail.

and, to be honest, how much of a f... design genius do you have to be to "design" a case with a button and a hole? Fail.

but hey, there's a sucker born every day, I'm sure there's a vast market for such crap. Like there's a market for designer shitter, designer male-to-female (not to be homofobic, also male-to-male) cable and, I'm sure, designer condom too.

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Bronze badge
WTF?

I don't get it

How is this any different from any other hard disk? I can hookup my bog standard external to my HDTV and record just fine (albeit only the channel I am currently viewing). For the same money or less you can buy a 'proper' DVR and be able to record 2 channels and have loads more functionality. WTF is up with this review?

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FAIL

Is this even a review?

Given that the photos show an empty case - a complete lack of USB or power ports gives it away - and has no real world speed information, this sounds like the ultimate slow news day has coincided with a press release dropping into the inbox.

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"the aluminium enclosure looks strikingly like Apple’s Mac mini"

or just like any square-ish aluminium box.

Seriously, what's with the Apple fetish?

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Coat

Hard drive on a TV

In my (Panasonic) experience, it seems to allow a tick in a box on a spec sheet and that's about it. My TV has both freesat HD and and freeview HD tuners. A previous recording to the external HD can be viewed while the TV is recording from one tuner though the other tuner is not available - go figure. Only 10 scheduled events are allowed. The biggest miss is any form of series link. Methinks given the cost of this drive I'd rather spend the extra on a twin tuner DVR and fix all issues. Probably one that begins with "H".

Presumably these restrictions are all down to the usual marketing department cobblers that says add the feature but don't in any way impact the sales of DVRs.

BTW, is there anything worth watching these days, let alone two decent programmes at the same time? Eee Ah remember when ah were a lad and we 'ad 3 channels... etc. etc.

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Anonymous Coward

looks strikingly like Apple’s Mac mini

Yeah, it also looks a roughly square shape with rounded edges that has been used in products throughout history.

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