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Home » Gabriel’s Blog

Why we Took Down the Radeon HD 7790 vs GeForce GTX 650 Ti Boost Review
Author: Gabriel TorresDate: May 16, 2013 - 2:29 PM PST

Data presented in our Radeon HD 7790 vs. GeForce GTX 650 Ti Boost review was too different from the data found by other publications. We re-tested the GeForce GTX 650 Ti Boost with different drivers, but the results were the same. Since we couldn’t find the culprit, we decided to take the review down.

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New Photo Studio for Hardware Secrets
Author: Gabriel TorresDate: September 19, 2012 - 3:31 PM PST

We’ve just rented a small office next door to use as a dedicated photo studio. Today, we finished preparing it, and we can finally say goodbye to our Mickey Mouse studio. See pictures below. In total, we invested around USD 630 to build this studio, plus the rent of the new office (USD 200/month). We believe this investment will be worthwhile. From now on, our pictures (especially those of computer cases) should be at a professional level. By the way, click here if you want to see pictures of our main office.

Hardware Secrets
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Hardware Secrets
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Hardware Secrets
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Hardware Secrets
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How do you organize the cables and networking equipment from your computer?
Author: Gabriel TorresDate: August 14, 2012 - 9:07 AM PST

I was really annoyed with the amount of cables and networking equipment lyingon the floor: a modem for the computer, another modem for the telephone, a router, a Gigabit Ethernet switch, and their power supplies. Finally, I decided to organize things around here. See the end result in the picture below. I installed everything on the inner panel of my desk. At least now I can vacuum the floor. How about you? Do you leave everything on the floor collecting dust, or do you organize it in any way?

How do you organize the cables and networking equipment from your computer?
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Computex 2012 Booth Babes
Author: Gabriel TorresDate: June 8, 2012 - 1:26 AM PST

So many brands to choose from! Which one is your favorite? 

Computex 2012 Booth Babes
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Computex 2012 Booth Babes
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Computex 2012 Booth Babes
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Computex 2012 Booth Babes
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Computex 2012 Booth Babes
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Computex 2012 Booth Babes
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Computex 2012 Booth Babes
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Computex 2012 Booth Babes
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Computex 2012 Booth Babes
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Computex 2012 Booth Babes
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Computex 2012 Booth Babes
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Computex 2012 Booth Babes
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Computex 2012 Booth Babes
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Computex 2012 Booth Babes
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Computex 2012 Booth Babes
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Computex 2012 Booth Babes
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Computex 2012 Booth Babes
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Computex 2012 Booth Babes
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Our Computex 2012 Coverage
Author: Gabriel TorresDate: June 4, 2012 - 1:46 PM PST
Hi guys, I am already in Taiwan to cover the Computex 2012 trade show. As I did last year, I will post the news from Computex on our news section. Stay tuned!
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SkyMall’s Most Bizarre Products – Part 16
Author: Gabriel TorresDate: May 24, 2012 - 10:52 AM PST

Another selection of the most bizarre inventions I’ve ever seen… The first two were advertised in SkyMall magazine; the last one was publicized in the August 2011 issue of “FITNESS Rx” magazine.

  • Poor person’s sauna: The image speaks for itself. Comments are unnecessary!

Poor person’s sauna
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  • Blanket against bedbugs: You definitely need to pick better hotels in which to stay!

Blanket against bedbugs
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  • Poor person’s nose job: It seems that the latest fad in Japan is devices that promise to modify your nose, so you wouldn’t need plastic surgery.

nose job
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Hantol PSU: Fake PFC Made of Cement
Author: Gabriel TorresDate: April 18, 2012 - 9:39 AM PST

We discovered that power supplies from Hantol have a fake PFC coil, where the coil is made out of cement (yes, cement), so the power supply feels heavy. See the pictures and help us expose this fraud.

I bought this low-end Hantol Silent ATX 700 W Pro power supply for reviewing for Clube do Hardware, my Brazilian website, since it is quite popular down there. When I opened it, I saw the passive PFC coil (a component that looks like a transformer), and I was wondering how a power supply that probably cost USD 15 in China could possibly have a PFC circuit. Then I remembered the case of the “AOBAMA” (yes, you read it right) power supply that I saw online, which had a fake PFC coil made out of cardboard. In fact, there is an article at http://www.pcpop.com/doc/0/294/294565_all.shtml that shows several power supplies with fake PFC coils. Even though the article is in Chinese, you should take a look at the pictures. So, I decided to disassemble the PFC coil and bingo! Instead of a coil wrapped around iron plates, what I found was a piece of cement (i.e., a rock). See pictures below.

Hantol Fake PFC Transformer
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Figure 1: What looks like a passive PFC coil

Hantol Fake PFC Transformer
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Figure 2: What looks like a passive PFC coil

Hantol Fake PFC Transformer
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Figure 3: Really?

This was done to deceive users in two ways. First, people may assume that this unit has a passive PFC circuit, which is not the case. Second, with a piece of cement inside the unit, it is heavier, and a lot of users when buying entry-level power supplies tend to assume that heavier models are better, as they have more components and bigger heatsinks. Well, you simply can’t trust this “technique” anymore!
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SkyMall’s Most Bizarre Products – Part 15
Author: Gabriel TorresDate: February 16, 2012 - 3:28 PM PST

A few more crazy inventions, two from SkyMall and one from Brookstone:

  • It is amazing the number of knock-offs of the blanket with sleeves (Slanket, Snuggie, etc.). Now we came across one that comes with a pillow attached. I guess the next version will carry a bed sewn to it. 

blanket with pillow
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  • A beard cap. No, I am not kidding. See for yourself. The fastest way to make people stay away from you on the streets, guaranteed.

beard cap
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  • A pillow with an integrated universal remote control. No comments.

pillow with remote control
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Our Meeting with Huntkey
Author: Gabriel TorresDate: January 20, 2012 - 12:35 PM PST

During this CES, we had the opportunity to sit down and have a private meeting with Huntkey’s president, Mr. Lewis, to clarify all the problems that we had with Huntkey in the past. As it turned out, Mr. Lewis is a very humble, sophisticated, and open-minded person, and all issues we had with his company were a big misunderstanding – from both sides. I am glad to say they are now a thing of the past.

Huntkey thought that I and my websites (Hardware Secrets in the United States and Clube do Hardware in Brazil) were biased because we decided to expose the problem of its Green Star power supply series that can’t deliver their labeled wattage, yet not exposing other brands that have the same kind of issue. This, of course, couldn’t be farther from the truth. What happens is that we test many local brands on my Brazilian website, but these reviews aren’t posted on Hardware Secrets for obvious reasons. Since the people at Huntkey can’t read Brazilian Portuguese, they would come to Hardware Secrets and not find such reviews; they thought we were not posting “bad” reviews for other brands. (Sometimes manufacturers think that both websites are located in Brazil and targeted to Brazilians. Just to clarify, I live in the U.S. and Hardware Secrets is a U.S. company.) In fact, on Clube do Hardware we even created a special “award” for power supplies that can damage your PC: the “Bomb Award.” A complete list of these power supplies can be seen here. On YouTube, we have a channel with several videos of these power supplies exploding.

We are proud to be very well-known for exposing products that can’t perform as expected, being open and very vocal in defending that all publications should have the same policy. However, we know of several websites that simply won’t post negative reviews, as they think manufacturers won’t advertise on them if they do. Some will even take money to post favorable reviews, or take down reviews if the manufacturer complains. How are users supposed to trust websites that say only positive things about all the products they review and take down negative reviews? The most important asset a news outlet has is its reputation; that cannot be bought. Once a publication loses its reputation, there is no turning back. In fact, from our experience, most manufacturers understand that they will get bad press from time to time. They also understand that if a publication detects a flaw in a product, instead of blaming the publication, they should go back to their R&D team, check to see if there really is a problem, and fix it. On the other hand, editors can’t simply say negative things just because they feel like doing so. Each criticism must be backed by enough evidence that there is, in fact, a problem. Editors must be humble enough to edit their reviews when the problem was on their side, and then update the review once the flaw was fixed.

In all of the 15 years that I’ve been running hardware-reviewing websites, there have been very few companies that decided to blame us for negative reviews. ASUS was one, with their local representative in Brazil responding to our allegations in a certain review that “our product doesn’t have a flaw, because our products are the best and everybody knows it.” How can you argue with someone like this? Thankfully, we don’t have to deal with this person anymore.

Then there was a local Brazilian brand that got a 400 W CWT unit, labeled it as 600 W, put on a fake 80 Plus logo, and then went nuts when we exposed it, telling their clients that we were completely wrong and biased. Fortunately, readers complained so much about them that they finally decided to start labeling their products with their true wattage.

Another time, there was a completely unknown Chinese manufacturer that was behind a local brand in Brazil that was accusing us of getting money from its competitors to post the review showing that the product couldn’t deliver its labeled wattage. My answer to the Brazilian company was simple. I have a video here with your power supply exploding. Simply ask them for a video with the power supply delivering the labeled wattage. They never did. Instead, they sent a photo of the over power protection (OPP) test performed by their load tester, showing the unit’s labeled wattage on the display. Can you believe this? They labeled their power supply with the trigger wattage of the over power protection circuit, which is always way above the unit’s real wattage.

And then there was Huntkey.

Talking to Huntkey’s president, it is now clear that the whole mess was ignited by Huntkey’s distributor in Brazil. According to Mr. Lewis, the distributor told him, “How can I compete in this market where there are power supplies labeled with higher wattages selling for less?” This kind of mentality is what makes the Brazilian market have so much junk being sold, and I couldn’t disagree more. Just because some people sell junk from unknown brands doesn’t mean that you have to make your products compete with this junk. By selling products with fake specifications, the company’s reputation goes down the drain. Unfortunately, by trusting a local distributor with the wrong kind of mentality, Huntkey did something that hurt its image.

To make things worse, in Brazil, people would sell Huntkey’s low-end power supplies as if they were high-end products. Low-end products are not necessarily bad products, as long as you know their benefits (lower price) and limitations (lower efficiency, for example). The problem is when you buy a Jetta expecting to have the performance of a Ferrari.

I was surprised to hear from Mr. Lewis that he not only completely agrees with my point of view, but he also wants my personal advice on how to better serve the market.

Finally, there was the situation in which I accused Huntkey of trying to bribe me. That was my bad. You see, they don’t speak English very well, and I got things mixed up as we got lost in the translation. (Our entire meeting was in Chinese, with the help of our business associate who is fluent in this language.) They truly wanted to advertise on Clube do Hardware, but this had absolutely nothing to do with the bad reviews. From the way the message was written, however, I assumed otherwise. All they wanted was to talk to know me better, and to better understand my background and the future plans for the websites.

That is why it is so important to have face-to-face meetings, as virtual communications can blow things out of proportion.

I want to thank Mr. Lewis for spending so many hours with us, and I hope this is the beginning of a long and positive relationship between us.

Hardware Secrets with Huntkey
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The Electric Delorean
Author: Gabriel TorresDate: January 16, 2012 - 10:52 AM PST

After going to the CES for so many years, it is hard to find something that really catches our attention to the point where we have to stop and say, “Wow!” This year, our “wow” moment happened the minute we saw an electric Delorean.

In fact, we’ve already seen an electric Delorean on the TV show “Motorweek.” The Delorean Motor Company also has declared that they will launch an electric Delorean in 2013. The electric Delorean displayed at CES, however, was presented by NRG Energy, to show what they can do and promote the company. See the pictures below. (The first one was taken by them; hence, their logo.)

PS: If you are also a fan of the Delorean, don’t forget to check out this post and this post.

Electric Delorean
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Electric Delorean
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Electric Delorean
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Electric Delorean
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Electric Delorean
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Electric Delorean
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