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Ex-Valve Writer Marc Laidlaw Releases Would-be Half-Life 2: Episode 3 Story

In what might sadly be the closest we'll ever get to knowing Valve's original plans for Half Life 2: Episode 3, if you will, Ex-Valve lead writer on Half-Life Marc Laidlaw has released a prospective, would-be script for the game that never came to be. The writer, who recently left Valve after 18 years working for the company, posted the story entitled "Epistle 3" on his personal blog (which is, naturally experiencing heavy traffic). He then gave a heads-up through his Twitter account, commenting on the fact that his website was brought down by the sheer amount of traffic it generated, Laidlaw said "I guess fanfic is popular, even a genderswapped snapshot of a dream I had many years ago."

Whether or not this closely resembles the would-be script for that third Half-Life installment only Laidlaw knows; perhaps this is just the writer's own take on what the story should have been, lacking any of the changes that it would incur during the development process. The fact that Laidlaw says this is fanfiction can be interpreted as a line of defense against lawsuits - as is the fact that he slightly altered the character's names from their originals (Gertrude Fremont seems a lost opportunity for Gordon Freeman's actual name...) Perhaps some crafty, dedicated users will create a mod that brings this story to fruition? Time will tell; for now, this seems to be as much closure as we're ever going to get. Follow the source links for Laidlaw's site, as well as GitHub and Pastebin links for the corrected story. There are also some interesting hints for a subsequent Half-Life 3, but alas, that one is even more of a mirage.

Sources: Marc Laidlaw's Epistle 3, GitHub, Pastebin, Engadget, Image @ Pinterest

Buffalo Unveils New External DVD Writer

Early next month Buffalo is planning to release a new external optical drive, a DVD writer called DVSM-PTS58U3. Coming in three color versions - black, silver and white, the drive measures 138 x 152 x 14.44 mm, it weighs 220 grams, and is capable of burn speeds of 8x for DVD-R/+R/+RW, 6x for DVD-R(DL)/+R(DL)/-RW, 5x for DVD-RAM, and 24x for CD-R/-RW.

The DVSM-PTS58U3 also features two attached USB cables, a USB 3.0-supporting cable for data transfer and power, and a USB 2.0 'Boost' cable to provide extra power when needed (there's a notification light that will turn red, signaling the user to plug in the Boost cable). Buffalo's writer is set to cost 7,245 yen (~ 73 USD).

Addonics Announces Internal and External mSATA/CFast Docks

Addonics Technologies today announced an internal and external reader/writer that allows you to use mSATA SSDs or CFast cards as removable media on any computer. Both solutions ensure maximum performance from mSATA or CFast media to simplify the task of transporting files from digital cameras, mobile devices, notebook and desktop PCs at read/write speeds of 5,000 mbps (USB 3.0) or 6,000 mbps (SATA/eSATA).

The Addonics External Reader/Writer comes bundled with mSATA and CFast adapters. The adapters convert the mSATA or the CFast media into a 1.8" micro SATA storage device that can be inserted into the open slot of the Reader/Writer. Designed to be powered directly from the USB port or eSATA/USB combo ports, the Reader/Writer connects to any system via eSATA or USB 3.0 and is plug-n-play with no software drivers to install.

I-O Data Announces DVRP-U8H Portable DVD Writer

I-O Data rolled out the DVRP-U8H portable DVD writer, which ships with Roxio Creator DVD authoring software, in addition to Nero 12 Essentials. The slimline external DVD writer is bus-powered, and relies on a single USB 2.0 connection for both power and host-connectivity. Measuring 137 x 154 x 20 mm, and weighing about 300 g, the drive can burn DVDs at speeds of up to 8X. Backed by a 1-year warranty, it is priced at 6,405 JPY (US $72.3).

Source: Hermitage Akihabara

TEAC Intros New Internal Blu-ray Writer Drive

TEAC introduced the BD-W512GSA, a cost-effective Blu-ray writer drive designed to make the standard accessible to more PC users. Sold in bulk/OEM packaging priced around €79, the drive can write Blu-ray BD-R discs at 12X speeds, BD-RWs at 8X, double-layer discs around 8X, DVDs at 16X, and CDs at 48X. While it can read triple- and quad-layer discs, it doesn't appear like the drive supports writing the two formats. It is built in the conventional 5.25-inch SATA form-factor, and comes with black and white bezel options.


Pioneer Announces World's Slimmest External BDXL Writer

Pioneer Japan announced the BDR-XU02J, a device it claims to be the slimmest Blu-ray XL writer in the world. It keeps fit thanks to its slot-loading mechanism, instead of a tray-loading one. It measures 133 x 133 x 12 mm (WxDxH), weighing about 250 g. Pioneer includes a stand to let you stack it vertically. The drive uses the USB 2.0 interface, with a single cable handling both power and connectivity. The BDR-XU02J writes single- and double-layer BD-R discs at 6X, triple- and quad-layer ones at 4X, BD-R (LtH) at 6X, BD-RE at 6X, multi-layer BD-RE at 2X, DVDs up to 8X, and CDs up to 24X. It includes DiXiM BD Burner 2013 disc writing software. It is slated for May 2013.

Source: Hermitage Akihabara

I-O Data Preps Another Blu-ray Writer

In addition to the two, 16x drives mentioned earlier, I-O will next month be releasing a third Blu-ray writer, a portable model dubbed BRP-U6DM2. This one measures 137 x 154 x 20 mm, it weights 630 grams, has USB 2.0 connectivity, a built-in cable (that can be tucked inside a cut-out at the back), and it offers writing speeds of up to 6x for BD-R (SL/DL), 4x for BDXL, 2x for BD-RE, 8x for DVD-R/+R/+RW, 6x for DVD-R DL/+R DL/-RW, 5x for DVD-RAM, 24x for CD-R and 16x for CD-RW media.

The BRP-U6DM2 has a one-year warranty and will start shipping in mid-December, priced at about $178.

Buffalo Also Debuts Two 16x Blu-ray Writers

In addition to cooking up some new platter-based storage, Buffalo has introduced two optical drives capable of burning a Blu-ray disc (BD-R to be exact) at up to 16x speed. Seen below, the BRXL-16FBS-BK (internal, SATA connectivity) and BRXL-16U3 (external, USB 3.0) have support for BDXL discs, and also deliver writing speeds of 12x for BD-R DL, 6x for BDXL, 2x for BD-RE, 16x for DVD-R/+R, 8x for DVD-R DL/+R DL/+RW, 6x for DVD-RW, 5x for DVD-RAM, 48x for CD-R and 24x for CD-RW.

The BRXL-16FBS-BK and BRXL-16U3 cost $255 and $322, respectively, and come with a software bundle which includes PowerDVD10 BD edition, PowerDirector 8 HE, PowerProducer 5, Power2Go 7, PowerBackup 2, InstantBurn 5 and MediaShow 5.

Presenting NextPowerUp

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Samsung Announces the SE-208DB USB 3.0 Portable DVD Writer

Samsung has today introduces its newest optical drive, a slim external DVD writer called SE-208DB. This burner weights 300 grams, it features USB 3.0 connectivity and 1 MB of buffer memory, and is capable of writing speeds of up to 8x for DVD-R/+R/+RW, 6x for DVD-RW/-R DL/+R DL, 5x for DVD-RAM and 24x for CD-R/-RW.

The SE-208DB comes in four color versions (white, black, red and blue) and it can be found priced at AU$49.50 (~ US$51).

Pioneer Announces BDR-208JBK Blu-ray XL Writer Drive

Pioneer announced the BDR-208JBK, an internal SATA Blu-ray writer drive, which the company claims to have the highest Blu-ray writing speed. The drive can write Blu-ray ROM (BD-R) at 15X, dual-, triple-, and quad-layer BD-R at 14X, 8X, and 6X, respectively. BD-RE discs are written at 2X, DVDs at 16X, and CDs at 40X. The drive features PureRead3+, which lets the drive correct read errors on scratched discs. The drive includes a suite of software by Cyberlink, including PowerDVD 10, PowerDirector, Power2Go 7, InstantBurn 5, and LabelPrint 2.

Transcend Releases World's Thinnest Portable CD/DVD Writer

ranscend Information, Inc., a worldwide leader in storage and multimedia products, today introduced its 8X slim portable CD/DVD writer, which at just 13.9 mm high, is currently the thinnest external CD/DVD writer on the market. Whether playing movies, installing software, or backing up files on the go, Transcend's new ultra-slim portable CD/DVD writer is the perfect companion for today's thin-and-light laptops and Ultrabooks.

To complement the new breed of cutting-edge notebooks that do not feature a built-in disc drive, Transcend's portable CD/DVD writer provides a slim and stylish solution designed to enhance the Ultrabook user experience. Its ultra-thin (13.9 mm) and sleek design fits comfortably into the sleeve of any laptop bag or backpack and offers around 44% weight savings over standard external optical drives. Moreover, because the CD/DVD writer draws its electric power directly from the computer's USB ports, users can enjoy more diverse entertainment and enhanced productivity wherever they are.

Pioneer Intros BDR-S08J Series Blu-ray Writer Drives

Pioneer introduced the new BDR-S08J line of internal SATA Blu-ray writer drives in the standard 5.25-inch form-factor. The series includes three variants based on the bezel color, BDR-S08J-W (matte white), BDR-S08J-BK (piano black), and BDR-S08J-KR (rubberized black), pictured in that order below. The drives feature SATA 3 Gb/s interface with 4 MB cache, and are capable of writing Blu-ray disc (BD) -R at 15X, BD-R double-layer at 14X, BR-R triple-layer at 8X, BD-R quadruple-layer at 6X, single-, dual- and triple-layer BD-RE at 6X; DVDs at 16X, and CDs at 40X. The three will include Windows 8-compatible drivers and versions of PowerDVD 10 and PowerDirector 9 software from Cyberlink. The three will reach stores (beginning with Japanese), in mid-November.

Source: Hermitage Akihabara

I-O Data also Announces a New, Portable DVD Writer

At the end of this month I-O Data is set to roll out a fresh external/portable optical drive, the DVRP-U8 DVD writer. This burner measures 140 x 147 x 19 mm, it comes in three colors - Pearl White, Piano Black and Orient Red, it has USB 2.0 connectivity, and offers write speeds of up to 8x for DVD-R/+R/+RW, 6x for DVD-R DL/+R DL/-RW, 5x for DVD-RAM, 24x for CD-R and 16x for CD-RW.

The DVRP-U8 comes with a one-year warranty and will cost about $54.

ASUS Intros DVD Writer with 50% Lower Power Draw

ASUS announced a new retail and OEM channel DVD writer drive, the DRW-24B5ST. Built in the conventional 5.25-inch SATA form-factor, the drive is said to pack energy-efficient components that reduce idle power draw (mounted disc idling, and no disc idling), by 50%. ASUS branded this feature as E-Green. Armed with 1536 KB of cache, the drive offers DVD access times as low as 160 ms, and CD access times as low as 140 ms. It writes DVDs at speeds as high as 24X depending on the media type, and CDs at speeds as high as 48X. It is priced at 2,500 JPY (US $31).

Source: Hermitage Akihabara

Buffalo Rolls Out New Portable Blu-ray XL Writer with USB 3.0 Interface

Closely trailing I-O Data, Buffalo Japan launched its portable Blu-ray XL writer drive, the BRXL-14U3. The drive implements USB 3.0 to ensure there are no bandwidth bottlenecks to affect buffer overrun protection, which writing discs at high speeds. Speaking of speeds, this drive is capable of writing BD-R single layer at 14X, double-layer BD-R at 12X, triple/quadruple-layer BDXL-R at 6X, and BD-RE XL at 2X. It features DTCP-enabled disc writing, with its bundled Buffalo DiXiM BD Burner 2011 software. Cyberlink-made Blu-ray 3D playback software is included. Slated for late-April, the BRXL-14U3 is priced at 23,205 JPY (US $286).

Source: PCWatch

Logitec Intros New Line of USB 3.0-Compatible Portable Blu-ray Writer Drives

Logitec Japan launched a new line of USB 3.0-compatible portable Blu-ray writer drives, under the LBD-PME6U3 series. The drives rely on a single USB 3.0 connection to the host for both power and connectivity. The drives are capable of burning Blu-ray discs at speeds of up to 6X. The drives come in three main variants, and three color options. The LBD-PME6U3V includes TotalMediaExtreme 2 Blu-ray authoring software, the LBD-PME6U3LBK includes a lighter version of the same software, TotalMediaRecord 2, while the LBD-PME6U3MSV includes just ROXIO Toast 11 Titanium.

These three are available in three color options, black, silver, and red, on the top-panel. This top-panel is made of rugged brushed aluminum. Measuring 136 x 142 x 19 mm (WxDxH), these drives weigh about 300 g. Prices start at 9,555 JPY (US $117), and go all the way up to 21,525 JPY (US $265).

Source: PCWatch

I-O Data Also Unveils USB 3.0-Compatible External Blu-ray XL Writer Drive

I-O Data also released a unique external Blu-ray XL writer drive that takes advantage of the USB 3.0 interface to make sure there are no buffer errors when burning discs at high speeds. The BRD-UT14X from I-O Data burns single-layer BD-R at 14X, double-layer BD-R at 12X, triple and quadruple-layer BDXL-R at 6X, single-layer BD-RE at 8X, double-layer BD-RE at 6X, and reads Blu-ray discs at speeds up to 12X. Depending on their type, DVDs are written at speeds up to 16X. The drive has 4 MB of cache memory. Measuring 158 x 220 x 50 mm (WxDxH), it weighs about 1.2 kg. For power, it relies on an external power brick. It will be priced at 19,845 JPY (US $245).

Source: PCWatch

I-O Data Also Unveils a 14x Blu-ray Writer

Following on Buffalo's footsteps, I-O Data is coming up with its own internal optical drive capable of writing Blu-ray discs at up to 14x speeds. Dubbed BRD-S14X, the burner in question takes up one 5.25-inch bay, it has SATA connectivity, 4 MB of buffer memory, and offers writing speeds of 14x for BD-R SL (single-layer), 12x for BD-R DL, 6x for BDXL (3/4-layer), 2x for BD-RE, 16x for DVD-R/+R, 8x for DVD-R/+R DL/+RW, 6x for DVD-RW, 5x for DVD-RAM, 48x for CD-R and 24x for CD-RW.

The BRD-S14X comes with a one-year warranty and costs $162. Availability is slated for March 31st.

Buffalo Also Readies a New Portable Blu-ray Writer

In addition to the 14x flagship mentioned earlier, Buffalo is also readying the release of another Blu-ray writer, a portable model known as BRXL-CSPI6U2-BK. Set for a late March arrival, the new, external drive measures 133 x 15 x 133 mm, it weights 240 grams, it features USB connectivity (dual cables are available), and offers write speeds of up to 6x for BD-R SL/DL, 4x for BDXL, 2x for BD-RE/BDXL RE, 8x for DVD-R/+R/+RW, 6x for DVD-R/+R DL/-RW, 5x for DVD-RAM, 24x for CD-R and 16x for CD-RW.

The BRXL-CSPI6U2-BK will cost $258.

Buffalo Launching a 14x Blu-ray Writer

Buffalo Inc. has today announced the world's fastest internal Blu-ray writer, a drive called BRXL-14FBS-BK which is capable of burning single-layer BD-R discs at up to 14x speed. Seen below, Buffalo's new optical drive has a SATA interface, it takes up one 5.25-inch bay, and also offers writing speeds of 12x for BD-R DL, 6x for BDXL, 2x for BD-RE, 16x for DVD-R/+R, 8x for DVD-R/+R DL/+RW, 6x for DVD-RW, 5x for DVD-RAM, 48x for CD-R and 24x for CD-RW.

The BRXL-14FBS-BK is bundled with DiXiM BD Burner 2011 and a heap of CyberLink software (PowerDVD 10, PowerDirector 8 HE, PowerProducer 5, Power2Go 7, InstantBurn 5, PowerBackup 2, MediaShow 5) and is scheduled to ship (in Japan) at the end of this month priced at about $232.

LG BP40NS20 Portable Blu-ray Writer Reaches Europe

LG Electronics has just announced the European arrival of its slim and curvy BP40NS20 optical drive which is capable of writing Blu-ray discs at up to 6x speeds. Seen below, LG's external Blu burner features 3D Blu-ray and BDXL support, an anti-scratch UV coating, a USB 2.0 interface, 4 MB of buffer memory, the Silent Play technology for reducing noise during movie playback, and the Jamless Play function which smoothes out playback of damaged discs.

The BP40NS20 also has LightScribe support and offers writer speeds of up to 6x for BD-R, 2x for BD-RE, 8x for DVD-R/+R/+RW, 6x for DVD-RW, 5x for DVD-RAM,, and 24x for CD-R/CD-RW. The drive can be found on sale at 109 Euro.

Lite-On Unveils New Value 12X Blu-ray Writer

Lite-On unveiled the new iHBS112-04 internal Blu-ray disc writer drive. The drive is built in the standard 5.25-inch form-factor, supporting SATA interface. It is capable of writing BD-R single-layer at 12X, BD-R double-layer at 8X, BD-RE single and double-layer at 2X, and DVD±R at 16X. The drive features Lite-On's ABS (auto-balanced spindle) feature, which works to reduce noise and vibrations caused by the drive when revved up and spinning at high speeds. The drive features 8 MB of write cache. In Japan, it is priced at 6,980 JPY (US $90). It will be sold under its own label and those of various other companies, as Lite-On is a major upstream ODM of optical disc drives.

Source: Hermitage Akihabara

Plextor Debuts the PlexEasy DVD/CD Burner for PC-Free Backup

Plextor, a leading developer and manufacturer of high-performance digital media and storage equipment, announces the release of their new PlexEasy External DVD/CD Burner at 2012 CES in Las Vegas. The PlexEasy is a versatile stand-alone optical storage device with a host of special features.

PlexEasy is a compact 8X DVD/CD Writer with a built-in SD/MMC card reader and a USB connector. It has the ability to connect directly to a wide variety of devices including both mass storage devices and Picture Transfer Protocol (PTP) devices such cameras, smartphones, tablets, and camcorders. And no computer is required.

Pioneer Introduces the BDR-XD04 portable Blu-ray writer

Today Pioneer revealed to the world its newest optical drive, the slim (0.55-inch thick) and light (~ 240 grams) BDR-XD04 external Blu-ray writer boasting support for triple-layer and quad-layer BDXL discs.

The BDR-XD04 has a USB 2.0 interface and features 4 MB of buffer memory, the PowerRead and PureRead2+ technologies for smooth video and audio playback, an Auto Quiet Mode that minimizes its operating noise, plus a manual eject lever. The drive also offers write speeds of up to 6x for BD-R(-DL), 4x for BD-R TL/QL, 2x for BD-RE, 8x for DVD-R/+R/+RW, 6x for DVD-R DL/+R DL/-RW, 5x for DVD-RAM, and 24x for CD-R/RW media.

The Pioneer BDR-XD04 is bundled with CyberLink's PowerDVD 10 BD3D, PowerDirector 9 and Power2Go 7 and is set to become available as of mid-January priced at $150.
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