Archive for Samsung

Review: Samsung 850 EVO Pro 2.5″ SSD

Posted in Products with tags on November 2, 2017 by itnerd

As part of fixing this problem with my wife’s MacBook Pro, which led me to fixing an even more serious problem, I replaced the Samsung 850 EVO drive that I popped into it with a Samsung 850 EVO Pro that I had lying around. Now, when you toss the word “pro” into a product name, it implies that it should be better, faster, and stronger. So, is it all of that? Let’s start with the main differences between the two drives:

  • The 850 EVO Pro has faster sequential read speeds of 550 MB/s vs 540 MB/s for the 850 EVO.
  • The 850 EVO Pro consumes slightly less power when reading or writing. In this case, 3.3W reading and 3.4W writing for the 850 EVO Pro versus 3.7W reading and  4.7W writing for the 850 EVO.
  • The 850 EVO Pro is rated to last 2 million hours versus 1.5 million hours for the 850 EVO.
  • The 850 EVO Pro has a 10 year warranty versus the 5 year warranty that the 850 EVO has.

So in short, the 850 EVO Pro will consume less power, is a bit more durable, and reads data a hair faster. To test the latter, I I gave my wife her MacBook Pro back after I dropped the 850 EVO Pro in and asked her if she could tell the difference. She couldn’t. But I did note some minor speed gains here and there when I tested it before handing her MacBook Pro back to her. But the differences aren’t substantial enough that the average user would notice at all.

So given that in the Samsung 850 EVO Pro is somewhere between an 18% – 23% price premium over the 850 EVO of a similar size, is there a reason to buy this drive? Well, if you need an SSD with a much longer warranty, lower power consumption and increased durability, then there is a reason to get the 850 EVO Pro. Those are the things that will appeal to people who beat up their hardware or want to get every bit of battery life out their laptop that they can. Or they simply want peace of mind which is a valuable thing to have. If however you are looking for a massive speed boost, look at the much cheaper 850 EVO as it is almost as fast as the 850 EVO Pro, has a still serviceable 5 year warranty, and you can pocket the cost difference for a night out with your significant other. In fact, for most people out there, I would recommend the latter path.


Why A Swelling MacBook Pro Battery Is No Laughing Matter

Posted in Commentary with tags , on November 1, 2017 by itnerd

Last night I was fixing a problem with my wife’s MacBook Pro when I came across a really serious issue. But let me start with the issue that led me to this serious problem. My wife updated to macOS High Sierra, but something went sideways with the conversion from HFS+ to APFS. Thus the fastest way to remedy that was to take an SSD (in this case a Samsung 850 EVO Pro that I had lying around) and clone the data from the SSD that I installed in her MacBook Pro a while ago and swap the drives. That went off without a hitch. But when I cracked open the case to swap the drives, the case literally sprung open. It shouldn’t do that. Ever. Thus I knew that I had an issue. When I examined the computer, I found that the battery had swelled beyond it’s normal size. I snapped a photo of the bad battery and the replacement that I sourced: 

If you click the photo, you can see the swelling. The battery at the top is the one that came out of my wife’s MacBook Pro. The bottom one is the replacement. You can see the swelling that I am talking about in the top battery while the bottom battery is completely flat. Here’s why this is a very, very bad situation. In general, a swollen battery occurs when the battery’s cells are overcharged, as lithium-ion batteries “react unfavorably to overcharging,” according to Don Sadoway, Professor of Materials Chemistry at MIT as Professor Sadoway explained to Electronics WeeklyNow, how do you know that you have a battery in this state? The most common things that you will notice will be any or all of the following:

  • The MacBook Pro will run hotter than normal.
  • The trackpad on older MacBook Pros that have a physical button will fail to click or be difficult to click.
  • The battery “says service” now or “replace now.” More details on that can be found here.

I quizzed my wife about this and she noticed the first two items but dismissed both. The problem is that you should never dismiss any of these as not being big deals. A swollen lithium ion battery is a fire hazard and is potentially dangerous, even if removed from the equipment in question. It can explode or catch fire at any time. Thus you shouldn’t fool around with a battery in this state. Any swollen battery should be removed from service IMMEDIATELY, placed in a location where fire would not be a problem (note – Lithium fueled fires burn very, very hot!!), and disposed of ASAP.

So in my case, as soon as I discovered this, I reached out to a company called iRepair who repairs iPhones, iPads, and MacBooks. I ended up at their Mississauga location who sold me a new battery for $140 CDN. Installation is trivial if you have the proper tools. This link will walk you through the process. Two things that I should point out. First, you need a special tri-point screwdriver that will allow you to unscrew the three screws that hold the battery in. If you don’t have one. Get one as you can damage the MacBook Pro if you don’t have one. My suggestion would be to get a battery kit that includes the screwdriver that you need. Next, you should cross reference the serial number of the MacBook Pro to verify that you have the right battery for your MacBook. That’s important as these batteries can be different for MacBooks that visually look the same.

Now the entire process took me 10 minutes. And my wife will not only have a working MacBook Pro from an OS standpoint, but she will also have a MacBook Pro which will have the maximum battery life that it is capable of. This should give her another year or two of life out of this notebook. That’s a good thing. Finally, I will be taking the old battery to a City of Toronto facility to be disposed of properly. You can find a list of those facilities here. Your city or town likely has similar facilities. But under no circumstances should you simply throw an old battery into the trash. Let me reiterate that a battery in this state is dangerous. It could catch fire at any time and needs be disposed of properly. Even if it wasn’t dangerous, it has chemicals that shouldn’t get into the environment, so it needs to be disposed of properly.

The bottom line is this. A swelling MacBook Pro battery is not trivial. Keep an eye out for the symptoms and take action if you see them. If you don’t feel comfortable diagnosing this and swapping the battery, take it to an Apple Store or your local Apple dealer. But under no circumstances should you ignore it as really bad things will happen to you if you do.


Samsung Boss Gets Five Years In The Clink

Posted in Commentary with tags on August 28, 2017 by itnerd

Something that I missed on Friday was the fact that Samsung boss Lee Jae-yong who got pinched a while back on bribery charges is going to the big house for five years after being found guilty. It’s not clear who will run Samsung at this point. I say that because Mr Lee’s father has been on sick leave following a heart attack in 2014, and although Mr Lee has two daughters, it’s not known if they’re considered Chairman material. Until that is sorted, Samsung is kind of hobbled.

Oh for what it’s worth, Samsung shares went down one percent on the verdict.

Samsung Introduces Galaxy Note 8

Posted in Commentary with tags on August 23, 2017 by itnerd

Hoping to rebound from their last Note series phone that blew up in their faces, Samsung today announced the Galaxy Note 8. From where I stand, it isn’t a huge departure from the ill fated Note 7. Here’s the key specs:

  • 6.3-inch display with a resolution of 1440 x 2960
  • Octa core processor
  • 6GB Of RAM
  • 64GB of storage (expandable)
  • Android 7.1.1
  • Dual 12MP rear camera
  • 8MP front camera
  • Iris scanner, fingerprint (rear-mounted), accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass, barometer, heart rate, SpO2
  • IP68 water/dust resistant, stylus
  • Heaphone jack
  • USB-C

Pre-orders for the Note 8 start today. You’ll likely get your hands on one if you pre-order or walk into a store on September 15th. Customers that pre-order between August 23rd and September 14th will receive a free 128GB Micro SD card and wireless charger. But that depends on who you get the phone from. Expect to pay $1299 for one unlocked.

Samsung has to prove that it can restore the Note name to its former glory as it got hammered pretty badly last year. This is their chance to do so and the whole world will be watching for anything that may go sideways.

Samsung’s Bixby Now Available in Over 200 Countries

Posted in Commentary with tags on August 22, 2017 by itnerd

If you have a Samsung S8 or S8+ smartphone, I have good news for you. Maybe. Samsung’s virtual assistant Bixby finally supports voice globally, with the South Korean giant rolling out the update in over 200 countries around the world. At least according to The Verge:

Samsung says Bixby will be made available in more countries, languages, devices, and third-party applications over time. Galaxy S8 and S8+ users can access Bixby by pressing the dedicated Bixby button on those phones, or by saying “Hi, Bixby.” The roll-out comes in a big week for Samsung, with the Galaxy Note 8 set to be officially unveiled tomorrow in New York City.

Here’s the thing that explains why I used the word “Maybe”. I am not sure if anyone who owns and S8 or S8+ will care as Google Now is way better than Bixby at present. In fact The Verge hammered Bixby when they tested it. Thus, this might be one of those “so what” announcements. But I guess we’ll see.

Samsung Galaxy S8 Iris Scanner Security Pwned By Hackers

Posted in Commentary with tags , on May 23, 2017 by itnerd

If you bought a Samsung Galaxy S8 for the security that the iris scanner provided you, then you may have to rethink that decision. Motherboard is reporting that hackers have used a fake iris to bypass the phone’s security:

Despite Samsung stating that a user’s irises are pretty much impossible to copy, a team of hackers has done just that. Using a bare-bones selection of equipment, researchers from the Chaos Computer Club (CCC) show in a video how they managed to bypass the scanner’s protections and unlock the device. “We’ve had iris scanners that could be bypassed using a simple print-out,” Linus Neumann, one of the hackers who appears in the video. The process itself was apparently pretty simple. The hackers took a medium range photo of their subject with a digital camera’s night mode, and printed the infrared image. Then, presumably to give the image some depth, the hackers placed a contact lens on top of the printed picture.And, that’s it. They’re in.

So, why does this work? Here’s my guess. I am guessing that the S8 is only checking for the pattern of the iris and it has no ability to tell if it is a real eye or not. Thus it is easily pwnable.  If any of this sounds familiar, it should. The facial recognition in the S8 can be fooled in the same manner.  And according to Motherboard, the fingerprint scanner has been pwned too. Samsung hasn’t commented on this, but it will be interesting to see what they do to fix this as this was a key selling feature for the phone.

Samsung Galaxy S8 & S8+ Goes On Sale Today

Posted in Commentary with tags on April 21, 2017 by itnerd

Today is the launch day for the new Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+ for those who live in the U.S., Canada, Puerto Rico, and Korea. For Canadians specifically, carriers such as Telus are offering up Samsung’s latest offering starting at $250 on a two-year term for the Samsung Galaxy S8, while the Samsung Galaxy S8+ is available at $320 on a two-year term.

Key features of the new flagship Samsung phone include:

  • See the Whole Picture – Infinity Display lets you see more on Samsung’s largest smartphone screen yet.
  • Unlock Your Potential – Protect your phone by using Iris Scan to unlock your device and IP68 water and dust resistance will keep your phone feeling like new.
  • Enhanced Audio Experience – Play Ultra High Quality (UHQ) audio with Samsung’s new AKG-tuned earphones.
  • Leave it to Bixby – Bixby Vision uses the native camera so you can search and buy products, discover nearby attractions and more.

Reviews are starting to trickle in and so far so good for Samsung who are trying to recover from the Note 7 gong show. There’s even a video of it being tested by YouTube star Karl Conrad for how waterproof it is in beer:

One issue has popped up though. People have complained about a red tint on the screen that the company has now committed to fix.

Have you bought the S8 or S8+? If so, what do you think of it? Post a comment below and share your thoughts.