Tech Ticker: Super-fast external SSD on tap; tech distractions cause of spike in traffic deaths?

This week's headlines: Plextor announces a super-fast external SSD. Bring your own USB Type-C cable. Also, highway fatalities are up alarmingly in the U.S., and the NHTSA blames smartphones and dashboard apps.

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Short takes and quick hits for the week of November 21 - 27, 2016.


Plextor launches EX1 external USB Type-C SSD

Posted November 23, 2016, %:20 PST

This is no garden-variety USB flash drive. According to AnandTech, it's the payoff for putting up with USB Type-C dongles:

Plextor this week formally launched its first external SSD which it demonstrated back in early June at Computex. The Plextor EX1 combines low weight, high capacity, a high quoted performance with a USB 3.1 Type-C interface. Moreover, the manufacturer promises increased endurance as well as reliability due to an advanced SSD controller and even offers the drive with a five-year warranty.

As reported initially, the Plextor EX1 SSDs will be available in 128 GB, 256 GB and 512 GB configurations. The drives will use USB 3.1 Gen2 Type-C interface with up to 10 Gb/s transfer rate and thus will be compatible with both currently available (via USB-C to USB-A adapter) and upcoming PCs. Since the EX1 is a fully-fledged SSD, not a flash drive, the compatibility with future systems was a requirement in the product design. Moreover, to emphasize that this is not a USB stick, the EX1 has a USB-C receptacle rather than a connector, which means that owners will have to use a cable to plug the drive into their systems (not very comfortable, but ensures that nothing accidentally breaks down as a result of careless usages).

There's no doubt that this drive is aimed at owners of the new MacBook Pro, but if you've got a Dell XPS 13, the latest HP Spectre X360, or a similar Windows PC with a USB Type-C connector, you should be able to use it as well.

I expect the price tag to be eye-popping, at least initially.

- EB

Apps are leading suspect in biggest spike in traffic deaths in 50 years

Posted November 21, 2016 6:45 PST

The New York Times says automotive safety experts are blaming technology for an alaraming increase in highway deaths in the United States.

When distracted driving entered the national consciousness a decade ago, the problem was mainly people who made calls or sent texts from their cellphones. The solution then was to introduce new technologies to keep drivers' hands on the wheel. Innovations since then -- car Wi-Fi and a host of new apps -- have led to a boom in internet use in vehicles that safety experts say is contributing to a surge in highway deaths.

After steady declines over the last four decades, highway fatalities last year recorded the largest annual percentage increase in 50 years. And the numbers so far this year are even worse. In the first six months of 2016, highway deaths jumped 10.4 percent, to 17,775, from the comparable period of 2015, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

"This is a crisis that needs to be addressed now," Mark R. Rosekind, the head of the agency, said in an interview.

According to the report, the Department of Transportation has worked with the National Safety Council and other groups to devise a "Road to Zero" strategy. The goal is to eliminate roadway fatalities within 30 years.

The incoming Presidential administration has not designated a candidate for Secretary of Transportation and there is no indication that this program will continue.

- EB

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