Factor Reviews: iStorage diskAshur² portable hard drive

It’s nice when you get something new and it’s exactly what you wanted it to be. And not trying to sound too corny or clichéd, but that’s exactly the feeling I got when I opened the iStorage diskAshur² portable hard drive. In fact, if anything, the iStorage diskAshur exceeded my expectations, but that’s really not saying much because I wasn’t expecting a lot from an external hard drive. I expected it to work, and its 500GB of space is massive so I expected to use it a lot, but that’s really where my expectations ended.

Let’s start with the way the iStorage diskAshur looks. I got mine in black; I’m assured it comes in other colours, but why do that to yourself? In black, it’s a sleek and stylish device, but unlike other external hard drives it feels solid and secure and, at around 20mm thick, retains a kind of impressive heft.

The device itself encrypts all data copied to it and can only be unlocked by entering a seven-to-15 digit PIN. To service its encryption feature, the hard drive has telephone-style keys on its front, which really adds to its look. I’ve read some criticisms that the finish can become marked with use, but that’s like saying my iPhone is at risk of getting scratched or my new trainers becoming worn through use. It may happen, but when your iStorage diskAshur, iPhone or new trainers begin life looking this good, who cares?

Setting up the iStorage diskAshur is so simple I’m not really going to dwell on it here, but basically get it out the box, plug it in, reset password/code and you’re done. Beyond that there are a number of optional features to take care of later, such as the ability to make the hard drive ‘self-destruct’ (not literally) whereby entering a passcode will reset all encryption and delete all data should this be necessary. Additionally, a Brute Force Destruct Feature is included in the device, which overrides the encryption key and locks the device if the passcode is entered incorrectly 15 consecutive times.

For anyone dealing with confidential data, the iStorage diskAshur is a product I’d really recommend. I got the 500GB version, which retails at £159.00 For the amount of space it has there are much cheaper models on the market, but they won’t come with encryption and may not be as sturdy, so it’s up to you to decide whether it’s worth it. The range goes up to a 2TB version, so there’s plenty more space available if needed.

In all honesty, the iStorage diskAshur is probably better suited to a professional setting, but for anyone looking for a solid external hard drive that keeps all your personal files secure, then you’d do well to find any hard drive that does it better or more attractively  than this.

Factor’s verdict:

Wanted man captured thanks to facial recognition

A Chinese man who was wanted by police for “economic crimes” – which can include anything from tax evasion to the theft of public property – was arrested at a music concert in China after facial recognition technology spotted him inside the venue.

Source: Abacus News

SpaceX president commits to city-to-city rocket travel

SpaceX president and chief operating officer Gwynne Shotwell has reiterated the company’s plans to make city-to-city travel — on Earth — using a rocket that’s designed for outer space a reality. Shotwell says the tech will be operational “within a decade, for sure.”

Source: Recode

Businessman wins battle with Google over 'right to be forgotten'

A businessman fighting for the "right to be forgotten" has won a UK High Court action against Google.. The businessman served six months’ in prison for “conspiracy to carry out surveillance”, and the judge agreed to an “appropriate delisting order".

Source: Press Gazette

UK launched cyber attack on Islamic State

The UK has conducted a "major offensive cyber campaign" against the Islamic State group, the director of the intelligence agency GCHQ, Jeremy Fleming, has revealed. The operation hindered the group's ability to co-ordinate attacks and suppressed its propaganda.

Source: BBC

Goldman Sachs consider whether curing patients is bad for business

Goldman Sachs analysts have attempted to tackle the question of whether pioneering "gene therapy" treatment will be bad for business in the long run. "Is curing patients a sustainable business model?" analysts ask in a report entitled "The Genome Revolution."

Source: CNBC

Four-armed robot performing surgery in the UK

A £1.5m "robotic" surgeon, controlled using a computer console, is being used to shorten the time patients spend recovering after operations. The da Vinci Xi machine is the only one in the country being used for upper gastrointestinal surgery.

Source: BBC

Virgin Galactic rocket planes go past the speed of sound

Virgin Galactic completed its first powered flight in nearly four years when Richard Branson's space company launched its Unity spacecraft, which reached supersonic speeds before safely landing. “We’ve been working towards this moment for a long time,” Virgin Galactic CEO George Whitesides said in an email to Quartz.

Source: Quartz

Google employees protest being in "the business of war"

Thousands of Google employees, including dozens of senior engineers, have signed a letter protesting the company’s involvement in a Pentagon program that uses AI to interpret video imagery and could be used to improve the targeting of drone strikes. The letter, which is circulating inside Google, has garnered more than 3,100 signatures

Source: New York Times

Computer system transcribes words users “speak silently”

MIT researchers have developed a computer interface that transcribes words that the user verbalises internally but does not actually speak aloud. The wearable device picks up neuromuscular signals in the jaw and face that are triggered by internal verbalisations — saying words “in your head” — but are undetectable to the human eye.

Source: MIT News

Drones could be used to penalise bad farming

A report by a coalition of environmental campaigners is arguing squadrons of drones should be deployed to locate and penalise farmers who let soil run off their fields. Their report says drones can help to spot bad farming, which is said to cost more than £1.2bn a year by clogging rivers and contributing to floods.

Source: BBC

Californian company unveil space hotel

Orion Span, a California company, has unveiled its Aurora Station, a commercial space station that would house a luxury hotel. The idea is to put the craft in low-earth orbit, about 200 miles up, with a stay at the hotel likely to cost $9.5 million for a 12-day trip, but you can reserve a spot now with an $80,000 deposit.

UK mobile operators pay close to £1.4bn for 5G

An auction of frequencies for the next generation of mobile phone networks has raised £1.36bn, says regulator Ofcom. Vodafone, EE, O2 and Three all won the bandwidth needed for the future 5G mobile internet services, which are not expected to be launched until 2020.

Source: BBC