7 High-Tech Attention-Getters From 2013 (So Far)

2013 Tech

If August is like the Sunday of summer, then autumn must be right around the corner. So as we head into the fall buying season, the CRN Test Center thought it a good time to look back at some of the year's most interesting technologies so far. Here are seven products that caught our attention.

Lenovo ThinkStation S30

Continuing to push the performance envelope are Lenovo 30-Series workstations built around Intel Xeon E5 processors. The CRN Test Center focused in on the S30, a midrange system that gives resellers a choice between Xeon E5 1600- and 2600-series processors packing from four to eight cores and up to 16 threads. Other options include discrete GPUs from Nvidia, multiterabyte SAS, SATA and SSD storage configurations with RAID-5 support and as much as 128 GB of RAM. Inputs include 10 USB 2.0 (two in front) and two USB 3.0 ports, and a 25-in-1 card reader. The cabinet, drives and many of its innards can be serviced without tools. The systems are certified for use with design software from Adobe, Autodesk, PTC, SolidWorks and Siemens. Add sturdy carry handles for a solid, versatile system worthy of the Lenovo name with list prices starting at $1,029.

Sharp IGZO Monitor

Think that 1,920-x-1,080 monitor looks good? The next wave in digital displays will quadruple the resolution currently known as high definition and give newscasters' blemishes no cover. Among the first is the Sharp PN-K321 Ultra HD monitor, which pumps a dazzling 3,840-x-2,160 pixels for medical imaging, CAD/CAM, and video production and digital editing applications. Sharp employs an IGZO panel, an indium gallium zinc oxide technology developed by Sharp as a thinner, more responsive alternative to the amorphous silicon used in most of today's LCD panels. A thinner active layer means that more light passes through more densely packed pixels at faster refresh rates using less energy. IGZO also exhibits persistence characteristics that permit it to display unchanged portions of the screen without help from the GPU, a potential boon to mobile devices. Haswell-equipped systems can drive this many pixels (at 30Hz) thanks to support for DisplayPort 1.2 in the latest chipset. To drive Ultra HD at its maximum 60Hz might require a dedicated graphics board. The Sharp PN-K321 lists for $5,250.

EMC Network Video Recorder

LenovoEMC in June began shipping the LenovoEMC Network Video Recorders with Milestone Arcus, a family of video surveillance systems that are as easy for a small company to afford as they are to set up and control. CRN took a close look at the NVR px2-300D, the lower-end model targeted at small and medium businesses offering a capacity for up to 20 surveillance cameras. The system, in essence, is one of LenovoEMC's sturdy Iomega NAS boxes that boots to Arcus from Milestone Systems, a video management system that's easy to configure for recording, scheduling, exporting and setting up storage thresholds and alerts. The solution is available with two- or four-drive bays for a total maximum capacity of 8 TB (4 x 2 TB) of storage. The higher-end unit can optionally accept analog cameras to help ease the transition to digital. Both can be used for general-file storage, and come with dual gigabit Ethernet, USB 3.0 and one-button transfer. List prices start at $999.

Logitech Keyboard Phone

Peripheral maker Logitech wants to replace your phone with a keyboard. The company in April began shipping the Logitech UC Solution for Cisco 725-C, an ordinary-looking keyboard for Windows PCs that adds dedicated keys for handset, headset, speakerphone, pick-up, hang-up, audio and video mute, and message waiting. Red or green lights surround the phone keys to further identify active functions. There's also a lighted caller-ID window. The new product works with the Cisco Jabber audio and videoconferencing client for Cisco-based UC systems. The $269 solution includes the keyboard itself plus the company's C920-C Webcam HD camera and the M525 Wireless Mouse plus wireless USB dongle. The three peripherals together occupy just two USB ports on the host computer. According to Logitech, the keyboard is designed to eliminate the fear workers face when confronted with losing their hard phones to soft ones.

Minx Go Bluetooth Speaker

Be the life of the party with an Android or iOS device and the Minx Go Bluetooth speaker from England-based Cambridge Audio. For $149 list, Minx Go cranks out loud and full sound from a box that's just five inches high and nine inches wide. The 2.4-pound powerhouse is available in black or white, is rated to deliver 18 hours of sound on a single charge and has a few extras not seen on other products in the category. If you're using the included AC adapter, a USB port on the Minx Go provides charging power for the music player. A rubber base keeps it in place and a center leg pivots out to prevent flipping. It pairs with multiple devices and shuts down after 30 minutes of inactivity. The Minx Go Bluetooth speaker provides excellent sound quality at good volumes, excellent battery life and versatile utility. A carrying pouch also is included.

Symantec Backup Appliance

Simplify backup to the cloud with Backup Exec 3600, a new appliance from Symantec. In a nutshell, it's a turnkey implementation of the company's Backup Exec 2012, a powerful point-and-click environment introduced last year for automated off-premises backup and recovery of physical and virtualized environments running Linux, Mac OS X and Windows. The 3,600 spec sheet lists a Xeon-based quad-core 1U server with 16 GB of RAM running Windows Storage Server 2008 R2 x 64 on two 80-GB SDDs in a RAID-1 configuration. It's built on an Intel S3420GPRX motherboard, and delivers five gigabit Ethernet ports (three for production), and an LSI 1078 SAS controller hooked to four 2-TB HDDs configured as RAID 5. This yields a 5.5-TB dedupe storage pool. There are also hot-swap power supplies and an external SAS port.

Kingston Secure USB

USB sticks are great for moving files from here to there. But without careful vigilance, organizations end up with devices floating around carrying untold numbers of files. Solving this problem is the DataTraveler Vault Privacy series of secure USB sticks from Kingston. All data on the drive is protected with AES-256 hardware encryption in a two-layer system with no unencrypted zone. For the enterprise, a management option links with a browser-based central management console to handle keys and passwords and password-setting policies for age, complexity and failure lockout. The console also can perform remote password reset and generate reports for security auditing purposes. Inserting the drive in a Mac or Windows PC launches an auto-run routine for entering a password. If successful, a second drive is mounted that contains the secured data. If not, the encrypted data is never visible. Depending on an organization's security policies, authentication can be granted locally or challenged by a central server. The drives are also waterproof and guaranteed for five years. Street pricing starts at around $33 for 8 GB.