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My 2nd Batch of Used BDXL discs

My 2nd Batch of Used BDXL discs

On the past days, I wrote about having purchased an used spindle of 10 Verbatim BDXL discs. I mentioned that I had also ordered the same item again, but the used condition mentioned was “Like New”. Today, we’ll see my experience this time, which may or may not surprise you.

The first thing is I received this item on an “Amazon Renewed” bag. The sticker is different from the “Amazon Inspected” one from my previous order:

"Verbatim" BDXL Used Discs 1

Visually looking, we can see that the spindle looks fine itself:

"Verbatim" BDXL Used Discs 2

Taking the spindle out of the packaging also doesn’t bring any serious alarm, except that the Verbatim label is broken:

"Verbatim" BDXL Used Discs 3

Now, after opening it, is where I noticed something weird. Looking at the data side, it looks more “purple”:

"Verbatim" BDXL Used Discs 6

Indeed, inserting this on one of my Blu-Ray drives indicates these are regular 25GB discs. It also has another media code unrelated to Verbatim itself: UMEBDR-016-000

"Verbatim" BDXL Used Discs 8

The real Verbatim BDXL discs have a Media ID of VERBAT-IMk-000:

ImgBurn Panasonic UJ260 1

This is how a Verbatim BDXL disc should look:

"Verbatim" BDXL Used Discs 7

And here they are side by side. See the difference?

"Verbatim" BDXL Used Discs 5

The fact that the label was broken is also sketchy. Here are both spindles closed side by side:

"Verbatim" BDXL Used Discs 4

My theory is that the previous owner kept the 100GB discs and exchanged them with regular 25GB printable discs and returned them. I went ahead and started the return process, stating this fact, and returned this item to my nearest UPS Store. At this time, all I can say is be careful when purchasing used discs. My previous experience was positive, but not this one.

The “Used” Verbatim BDXL discs

The “Used” Verbatim BDXL discs

Hi everyone,

Yesterday afternoon, I received the “Used – Good” Verbatim BDXL discs that I purchased last week. Today, we’ll see exactly what these discs really mean and if they are really used.

First, we see the item arrived on a bag. Visually inspecting it from the bag it seems the packaging itself looks good.

Verbatim BDXL Used-Good 1

Indeed, it all looks good, except it isn’t really wrapped like new items are, so the spindle was actually opened already.

Verbatim BDXL Used-Good 2

The spindle package looks so good that there are not even damages to it, which contradicts Amazon’s description of “Used – Good” items since it claimed that there were some damages.

Verbatim BDXL Used-Good 3

Taking a look at the discs itself, they also look good. There are no imperfections on it, which also contradicts their definition of the “Used – Good” condition.

Verbatim BDXL Used-Good 4

Even the data side looks fine. No disc have been burned either, so they are “brand new”.

Verbatim BDXL Used-Good 5

What I did notice, however, was a bit of dust in them, but that was it. No scratches or imperfections were found in them. As of now, I’m currently burning these discs, gently cleaning them before attempting to burn them to clear any dust they may have. Last night, the first 2 discs burned successfully. I’m burning my 3rd one as of this writing, and it’s going good so far, using my Panasonic UJ-260 ABPU-B.

For the price, this was a really good deal!

Get this item on Amazon below:

Buying Used BDXL discs. What to expect?

Buying Used BDXL discs. What to expect?

On the past few days, I ordered several quantities of BDXL discs to backup my recorded videos from the past years. These projects have varying sizes and some goes up to 1TB. This means I need several of these BDXL discs to back them up.

When looking at the BDXL media on Amazon, I noticed they can be purchased “Used” straight from the Amazon Warehouse seller. A spindle of 10 discs cost $41.88, while the Used condition was at $36.85.

It’s going to be interesting to see the definition of “Used” for these discs. The description says the packaging is damaged, and Amazon’s definition for “Used – Good” items say that they may be missing items. The order description talks about some “imperfections”, which will be interesting to see exactly what it means. While the price certainly is lower, maybe it may have 8 or 9 out of 10 discs, or maybe it’s just the packaging that’s bad and that’s it. In either way, tomorrow I’ll get to know for sure once it is delivered to me.

Today, before writing this post, I noticed Amazon Warehouse had the same product, this time listed as “Used – Like New”. The price was $39.79, which is $2 and some cents off the original new price. The description says that just the packaging is damaged, which is manageable if that’s the case. The most important part for me is that the discs are fine by themselves. This item will arrive on February 6 or sooner.

While I wait for these items to arrive, I’m compressing and splitting my projects into 23.3GB parts. This allows me to store 4 of those on a single BDXL disc. I’m burning these using my old Panasonic UJ-260 slim Blu-Ray writer since my LG WH14NS40 seems to have failures sometimes. I’ve wasted some discs already due to issues with that drive, while my Panasonic drive burns them flawlessly, although at just 2x, taking about 3 hours to burn and 2 hours to verify. While the burning time is long, the important part is that these discs are burning fine and can be read back correctly. I’m burning these discs with Nero 2017 using the SecurDisc compilation option.

Optical Quantum Blue CD-R Overview

Optical Quantum Blue CD-R Overview

Hi everyone,

Yesterday, I received a spindle of “Blue CD-R” from Optical Quantum. This brand is a subsidiary of Vinpower Digital and the discs are manufactured by Optodisc Taiwan:

Optical Quantum Printable Blue CD-R 1

I brought this spindle because the “Blue CD-R” caught my attention. Usually, CD-Rs are produced in a very light green color, but these discs should be different. These discs are marketed as having a “Blue AZO Burning Die”, which should be superior than standard CD-Rs.

Optical Quantum Printable Blue CD-R 2

The discs are rated at 52x and can hold up to 700MB of data or 80 minutes of audio, which is standard of CD-R discs. This batch also appears to look like a dark green color, but not too much blue. The discs are printable too.

Checking these discs in Nero DiscSpeed gives us a Media ID Code (MID) of 97m24s01f, and is identified as “Taiyo Yuden”. I’m not sure if this is legit, as it is my understanding that CMC Magnetics has the rights to use Taiyo Yuden codes, but since these are manufactured by Optodisc, I have my doubts.

It has to be noted that these brands tend to source their discs from different suppliers, usually from Ritek, which does use Ritek codes in their discs. Some other brands source their discs from CMC Magnetics, again, using CMC-MAG-xxx codes. In this case, I wonder if Optodisc is legitimately making “Taiyo Yuden-quality” discs. There are some articles that seem to refer to Optodisc making Taiyo Yuden-quality discs, so that may be the reason they are using their media code.

I checked these discs on 4 slim drives that I at the moment. Since I’m on vacation, I don’t have my usual Lite-On drive to check these, but this will give you an idea of what to expect when using them on Slim drives. I also haven’t burned them, so this will just be purely disc information below:

Toshiba-Samsung SN-208AB

Optical Quantum Printable CD-R - Toshiba-Samsung SN-208AB

So far, the most reliable slim drive I have at the moment is this one, which reports burning these discs at 10x, 16x, 20x, and 24.

Panasonic UJ260

Optical Quantum Printable CD-R - Panasonic UJ260

This is a Blu-Ray drive which has been my best Blu-Ray burner in years. This drive also supports CDs and DVDs, but usually burns at low speeds. This is why Nero DiscSpeed is reporting just 2 speeds: 8x and 24x.

LG BP60NB10

Optical Quantum Printable CD-R - LG BP60NB10

This is an LG “4K UHD official” drive. This one gives me headaches sometimes since it seems to lose focus while reading some times, a behavior I don’t see on any other drive. Maybe it’s faulty, but I also found that this drive depends heavily on the quality of the USB port and cable since it’s USB-Powered. This drive supports burning these discs at 10x, 16x and 24x.

LG GT80N

Optical Quantum Printable CD-R - LG (HP-branded) GT80N

This drive is part of an HP laptop, which is why it is branded as HP rather than LG, but it is actually made by LG. On this drive, the disc is supported at a speed of 10x, 16x, and 24x.

Final Thoughts

These discs are marketed as Blue, but they seem to look dark green. This is still different from the majority of discs that look very light green. It seems to burn at a maximum speed of 24x on all of these slim drives, probably because of the use of the Taiyo Yuden media code, although nowadays, most media and drives burn most discs at 24x for Slim drives and 48x for desktop drives.

I haven’t burned these discs yet. That will come when I have access to my Lite-On drive featuring LabelTag, as I also want to see how a label would look on these discs too. I expect these to burn flawlessly at 48x in that particular drive which I have trusted since 2010.

You can get these discs on Amazon below:

TP-Link Archer T2U Nano: AC600 USB 2.0 Wireless Adapter

TP-Link Archer T2U Nano: AC600 USB 2.0 Wireless Adapter

Hi everyone,

Today, I’ll show you the TP-Link Archer T2U Nano AC600 USB 2.0 Wireless Adapter:

TP-Link Archer T2U Nano AC600 USB2.0 Wireless Adapter 1

This is a USB 2.0 Wireless Adapter about the size of a mouse USB receiver, very small. It follows the Wireless AC protocol and should theoretically give us speeds of up to 600Mbit/s. If that’s true or not, we’ll see later in this post.

This wireless receiver is currently being sold at about $13 dollars on Amazon, or at $12 if you buy them as a “Renewed” item, which is Amazon’s terms for refurbished items.

The above ones were purchased renewed, as this is more friendly to the planet and should work just like a new one. In fact, you can see one of them is packaged differently than the other. This doesn’t matter, but you know they are repackaged items because of how they are.

Unboxing

The front of the box shows the overall product details, like saying it should be faster on the 2.4Ghz band and that it also supports the 5Ghz band, given it’s a dual band adapter:

TP-Link Archer T2U Nano AC600 USB2.0 Wireless Adapter 2

On the back, we have a better description of the adapter:

TP-Link Archer T2U Nano AC600 USB2.0 Wireless Adapter 3

The receiver is packaged inside this big box:

TP-Link Archer T2U Nano AC600 USB2.0 Wireless Adapter 4

The reason for it to be big is that they have packaged a regular CD with the device driver. It has to be known that Windows 10 detects the adapter natively and uses its own driver, as we will see later too.

TP-Link Archer T2U Nano AC600 USB2.0 Wireless Adapter 5

We also have the user manual and an Amazon Certified Refurbished card.

The adapter is really small:

TP-Link Archer T2U Nano AC600 USB2.0 Wireless Adapter 6

Taken out of the box:

TP-Link Archer T2U Nano AC600 USB2.0 Wireless Adapter 7

Now it’s time to plug it into my laptop. Almost unnoticeable:

Testing

The TP-Link Archer T2U Nano is natively recognized by Windows 10, and uses Microsoft’s native driver:

TP-Link T2U Nano speedtest 4

However, it only seems to be using a fraction of my wireless router, only showing it is running at a rate of 86.7Mbit/s:

TP-Link T2U Nano speedtest 1

In fact, running a speed test doesn’t give the maximum speed of 250Mbit/s of download I’m supposed to be getting:

In comparison, when using the laptop’s integrated Wifi card, it indeed reaches the full 250Mbit/s speed:

I then decided to use TP-Link’s driver to see if that would improve things, but infortunately that wasn’t the case:

And even switched to the other adapter to make sure it wasn’t defective. Unfortunately, I also got a slower than expected speed:

TP-Link T2U Nano speedtest 9

Conclusion

The TP-Link Archer T2U is a small wireless adapter. Maybe it’s because of that the fact that we don’t see the full speed being utilized, but one thing is for sure; it serves its initial purpose of bringing Wi-Fi to a laptop. While it may be slow, we can also see that the adapter works simply by inserting it. No extra drivers are needed on Windows 10, and we can start navigating the web fast.

For just $12 or $13 dollars, we can’t expect it to do miracles with the speed, but it will keep you connected with no dropouts.

The internet plan used for the purpose of this review is 250Mbit/s of download and 25mbit/s of upload speed.

If you’re interested, you can purchase this item on Amazon below:

The Avantree DG80 USB Bluetooth Audio Transmitter

The Avantree DG80 USB Bluetooth Audio Transmitter

Hi everyone,

Today, I’ll show you the Avantree DG80 Bluetooth USB Audio Transmitter:

Avantree DG80 - 1

This is a Bluetooth adapter that works as a PC audio card. It transmits audio via Bluetooth using the SBC, FastStream, aptX, or aptX Low Latency codec, depending on which codecc your headphone or adapter supports. Having the aptX codec provides us with a better audio experience.

The aptX Low Latency codec allows us to watch movies and videos without any audio delay. Most Bluetooth receivers today support this codec and having a transmitter with it makes us take advantage of this.

Avantree DG80 - 2

Unboxing

The DG80 packaging is small and simple.

Avantree DG80 - 3

We can see the adapter along with its manual and documentation behind.

We can see the transmitter is really small.

Finally, we have the included documentation.

Avantree DG80 - 9

Package content:

Avantree DG80 - 10

Using the transmitter

Using this transmitter is as simple as plugging it into a USB port and going into pairing mode.

Avantree DG80 - 11

We can see Windows detects it as Avantree DG80.

Avantree DG80 Settings 2

The transmitter has a bit depth and sample rate of 16bit/48khz, which is common with these adapters.

Avantree DG80 Settings 3

I paired it with my Fiio BTR5 and we can see it is using the aptX Low Latency codec.

Avantree DG80 - 12

Here’s a video of the pairing process of the adapter:

Audio Quality

Becuase this transmitter uses a Qualcomm chipset, the sound quality is realy great, thanks to its support of the aptX and aptX Low Latency codecs.

Signal strength

Avantree claims the adapter will work up to 30 meters or 100 feet. This may be true unless there are some obstacles in the way. In my tests with the Whooshi adapter, known to have signal issues, I was able to listen to music while I was in the same room. However, going away I could hear the audio getting cut. If you’re looking for the best signal range, the Avantree DG60 is a better choice.

Conclusion

If you still do not have a USB Bluetooth audio transmitter, the Avantree DG80 is a good start. It’s small, portable, and cheap. It also supports the aptX and aptX Low Latency codecs to provide excellent audio quality.

Embalses de Puerto Rico v1.9 introduces new Dark Mode

Embalses de Puerto Rico v1.9 introduces new Dark Mode

Hi everyone

Yesterday, I published the version 1.9 of Embalses de Puerto Rico, which adds support for Dark Mode:

Now, the app will use Dark mode if your device is set to that mode.

If you want to force the app to use Light or Dark mode, regardless of the system setting, you can do that by using the all-new Theme setting:

This will override the system setting unless the System default option is selected.

Light mode is unmodified for those who would like to continue using it:

Embalses PR Light Theme Reservoir Page - Spanish

You can download or update this app in the Google Play Store, here.

With this mode, I hope your experience using the app is improved and allows you to continue monitoring the reservoir levels during these times of drought.

The OWC Mercury Pro 5.25″ External Optical Drive Enclosure

The OWC Mercury Pro 5.25″ External Optical Drive Enclosure

Hi everyone,

Today, I’ll show you the OWC Mercury Pro 5.25″ External Optical Drive Enclosure:

OWC Mercury Pro 1

This is an enclosure designed for Internal 5.25″ CD, DVD, and Blu-Ray drives. It uses a USB 3.1 Gen 1 connection to transfer files faster than when using USB 2.0. This mainly applies to Blu-Ray discs since they can have a very high transfer rate when compared to CD or DVD, hence having a USB 3.1 Gen 1 connection allows us to benefit by having faster transfer speeds.

Unboxing

The enclosure comes in a simple box where when opened, we see a box that contains the power and USB cable as well as the screws needed to mount the drive:

We then see the enclosure below:

OWC Mercury Pro 6

It comes protected inside a plastic bag:

Once we take it out of the bag, we can see the shiny metal enclosure:

Inside, we can see the board and SATA cables:

OWC Mercury Pro 12

Installation

I took out my LG WH14NS40 Blu-Ray drive from my desktop so I can use in the enclosure on all of my computers:

Installation was very easy. The drive was inserted and the screws were installed on the sides and bottom. The result is very nice looking portable desktop drive:

OWC Mercury Pro 19

Windows 10 detects it as Mercury Pro Optical and lets us know that it is connected via USB 3.0:

OWC Mercury Pro 20

So far, the enclosure has been working very great.

Now, I need another enclosure for my LiteOn iHAS524 drive, which is still my preferred drive to read and write CD and DVD.

Changing the LiteOn iHAS524 Optical Pickup Unit, again

Changing the LiteOn iHAS524 Optical Pickup Unit, again

Hi everyone,

Remember my previous post where I was talking about the LiteOn iHAS524 C and mentioned the different optical pickup units this model use across its different revisions? Turns out that the SF-DS1XD OPU used in the iHAS524 B was having trouble burning DVD+R DL, so I began my search for a used iHASx24 drive from the A revision.

On Friday, I got a used LiteOn iHAS124 A delivered. This model use the SF-DS19L OPU that all LiteOn iHASx24 use (x being a number from 1 to 6).

LiteOn iHAS124 - 524 1

The LiteOn iHASx24 series are all the same, except that the iHAS224, iHAS424 and iHAS624 has the hardware for LightScribe burning, while the iHAS124, iHAS324 and iHAS524 doesn’t. Other than that, the hardware is identical but they have different firmwares. The capabilities between models are the following:

  • LiteOn iHAS124: Base model.
  • LiteOn iHAS224: LightScribe.
  • LiteOn iHAS324: SmartErase.
  • LiteOn iHAS424: LightScribe and SmartErase.
  • LiteOn iHAS524: LabelTag and SmartErase.
  • LiteOn iHAS624: LightScribe, LabelTag and SmartErase.

Basically they have a different firmware enabling LightScribe, LabelTag and SmartErase depending on the model you have. Even if you have a different model, the firmware can be crossflashed by using some tools and firmware. I will not be covering that here, but it’s good to know if you’d like to add some features to your drives. The only feature that depends on hardware is LightScribe.

My LiteOn iHAS524 has been with me since 2010, and it’s probably the best CD and DVD burner available given its ability to overspeed 16x media to 20x. It also has HyperTuning, Online HyperTuning and SmartBurn, which are essential features to burn media with great quality. This is why I still count on this drive as sometimes I like to store data on optical media.

The drive had its optical pickup unit changed to the SF-DS1XD some years ago because one CD broke inside the unit, damaging the original SF-DS19L. I also didn’t use DVD+R DL media, so everything was fine, until last week. It turns out that the OPU had problems burning the discs. Specifically, it had problems focusing on the second DVD layer, failing at 50%. This is why I brought the used LiteOn iHAS124 A drive.

LiteOn iHAS124 - 524 3
LiteOn iHAS124 - 524 4

Because this unit is an A revision unit, the hardware between the iHAS124 and iHAS514 is the same. I did changed the iHAS524 disc mechanism to the one from the iHAS524 C revision, with the exception of the OPU:

LiteOn iHAS124 - 524 5
LiteOn iHAS124 - 524 6

On both photos, the iHAS524 is on the left while the iHAS124 is on the right.

Here we can see the disc mechanism from the iHAS124 unmounted:

LiteOn iHAS124 - 524 7
LiteOn iHAS124 - 524 8

And the Optical Pickup Unit taken out of it:

LiteOn iHAS124 - 524 9

I’ll be using this OPU in the original iHAS524 mount, so I placed it there:

LiteOn iHAS124 - 524 10

And finally, here’s the disc mechanism attached to the iHAS524:

LiteOn iHAS124 - 524 11

The OPU started working immediately. It is now loading discs faster and wasn’t making weird noises. I was also able to burn some DVD+R DL media without issues. I’ll be talking about that on another post, but for now, this is it.

Collaborating in the exhale project – Part 2

Collaborating in the exhale project – Part 2

Hi everyone,

Yesterday, I began working on my second collaboration for the exhale xHE-AAC USAC encoder. This time, I worked on adding an argument to print the software version on the console.

exhale-V-argument-main-software

The above is the main software, printing its information as well as how to use it.

There was no option to print the version only. Ideally, I just wanted a way to print something like exhale version 1.0.3 .....so that I can easily parse it as I do with other tools like Opusenc and Flac. Because of this, I began working on adding this functionality.

The code that performs this will check if there is just one argument (actually 2, since the first one is the executable filename). It also checks if the argument is either -v or -V. If this is true, we print the software information to the user:

This is the result:

A very simple and minimalistic output. Thanks to this, I can parse it and use on tools like my upcoming exchale GUI:

This Merge Request was approved and merged and is ready to use for everyone. As for the GUI, expect it in the next couple of days!

Click here to see the Merge Request on GitLab.