Quick Review: Toshiba 32Gb UHS-I/Class 10 SDHC Card (SD-K032GR7AR30)

Just this week, I had a need to get some more 32Gb SDHC cards, preferably full size cards, at a good price for some short-haul work. I would expect these to be subjected to a lot of insertion/removal cycles, so I didn’t want to sacrifice any expensive cards as I’ve had a history of case-cracking over time.

While doing some shopping, I came across the Toshiba 32Gb UHS-I card, model SD-K032GR7AR30, for about AU$20 a piece posted. They’re not particularly notable, and are more “no-frills” when it comes to their line-up. It doesn’t even feature the Exceria branding. I have faith in Toshiba, and Japanese made products in general, so I decided to buy some. They did claim Class 10, so it couldn’t be too bad.

The Product

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The card is packaged in a colour thin-card package with a plastic bubble, as many cards are packaged nowadays. This package is not particularly big, and is unlike the “boxy” tray-style packaging normally associated with the Exceria series.

The front is coloured green (my favourite colour), and advertises a maximum read speed of 30MB/s over the Class UHS-1/Class 10 write speed of 10MB/s. The front features a verification hologram and scratch-off (which requires a phone-in) probably because this is an imported card from overseas. The card is visible, and is black in colour, with a very plain black, white and gold front label.

The rear provides more detailed specifications, where this card is specified as supporting SDR50 mode in UHS-I. Very few cards provides this information.

The package can be opened by cutting along the dotted line, which encourages you to cut-through the hologram, where it allows the card bubble pack to be removed and the card to fold out and provide some information on the “manual”.

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The card features a 1-year warranty according to the package, and the manual can be downloaded from their website.

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Similar to other cards, the plastic bubble is a fold-over design with “wings” to prevent it from being slipped out of the backing card.

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A closer look at the card reveals nothing too special, with the laser etching at the back being very sharp and deep, and similar to some you will find on the back of some Kingston cards (which seem to be OEMed by Toshiba).

The card’s details are as follows:

CID: 02544d534133324712439cf00300e855
CSD: 400e00325b590000ea977f800a400003
Size: 31,486,640,128 bytes

Performance Test

As usual, prior to commissioning, some testing of the product is performed to ensure that it performs correctly.

HDTune Pro with Transcend RDF8

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From a clean state, with no data written, the card averages a 42.2MB/s read rate, which is close to the limit of an SDR50 bus connection.

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However, once data is written to the flash, the true read speed is shown, averaging 35.4MB/s, which is higher than the claimed 30MB/s maximum, so the card is speeding. Good!

HDTune Pro with Kogan RTS5301

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From a clean state, the RTS5301 mirrors the same read speeds as the RDF8, being slightly faster at 44.3MB/s. No test with the RTS5301 was performed in the dirty state.

CrystalDiskMark with Transcend RDF8

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The card meets the specifications under CrystalDiskMark, with a read speed of 38.49Mb/s exceeding the 30Mb/s claimed, and a write speed of 13.98Mb/s exceeding the 10Mb/s guaranteed. However, from there, the performance for small and medium block goes downhill, with poor 512kB write rates, and fairly average 4kB write rates which seem to be time sensitive.

It seems that the card is nothing special, as expected from the packaging and price. However, comparing it to the Sandisk Ultra microSDHC, it’s fairly similar and trades blows back and forth, although that is expected since microSDHC cards are disadvantaged by the lower card volume meaning less space for flash, with less chance of getting higher speeds.

CrystalDiskMark with Kogan RTS5301

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The Kogan RTS5301 turns out very similar numbers, which means good things in terms of card compatibility.

H2testw with Transcend RDF8

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The card passed with no errors, and was able to maintain a very similar speed across the whole card as benchmarked above.

Conclusion

The Toshiba card is sold as “no frills”, and it performs as such. It’s not a bad card by any measure, and exceeds its stated claims, however, it is not a truly speedy card compared to the Exceria series. It is still plenty fast enough for recording high definition video (where Class 6 is even sufficient), and is probably no disadvantage if you’re not looking for every second in the download process or rattling off burst RAW shots on a DSLR like no-tomorrow. For the price, it provides the expected level of value, but the small and medium block performance is not particularly noteworthy.

The performance and card ID databases will be updated shortly with the results.

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Power Bank Endurance Test – Hillo Power Jin Gangxia (Part 6)

The experiment continues, and we’ve hit another milestone with another 50 cycles added onto the counter. This is an ongoing experiment to see just how a lithium-polymer battery within a particular power bank degrades as a function of number of cycles. Given that cells are commonly rated for 300 to 500 cycle lifetimes, I wanted to see whether the cell would be able to make it, and just how its journey to end of life looked like.

The key phrase so far is “a watched pot never boils”, and in this case, the degradation is slow but not necessarily steady. At least, this time around, no unusual circumstances existed, so no loss of data was experienced, bringing the lost data rate to 3 in 300, or 1%. The total cycle count is now 300 cycles from the beginning of experiment, or 316 cycles from new, which is a cycle life consumption of 63.2% to >100% based on the guidelines of 300-500 cycles.

The Results

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Again the cell fared surprisingly well, although now it seems to be resuming on a near linear trend. Despite this, the later data seems to show more variance – when the cell spikes up, it goes further, but doesn’t reach the original value, so we know that degradation is taking effect for sure, as we are now >100mAh (my pessimistic margin of error) from the start value.

That being said, we are still nowhere near the 80% degradation needed to call “end of life” on the cell. In fact, both linear and power models show a similar R-squared value, and both imply a projected cycle life of 1325 and 1128 cycles respectively, which is optimistic as it assumes the degradation continues on with the same trend.

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This can be seen in the “scaled to zero” graph which shows plenty of room to go before the cell is completely useless.

Conclusion

For an “unbranded cell”, this performance is quite respectable and it seems to imply the cell has plenty of life. The experiment will continue on to see just how far we can get (provided something else in the power bank doesn’t give way first), with the next update at 350 cycles from the beginning of the experiment.

Despite the long predicted cycle life based on linear and power fits, it is predicted a non-linear falling-off of capacity will be experienced sometime in the future which will accelerate until the cell reaches its demise.

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Fails: eBay Laptop Battery Seller & Fastway Couriers

Two weeks ago, when still reviewing the Tektronix RSA306, I discovered that when using the Lenovo E431 with the RSA306, the run time would be limited to roughly two hours and that wasn’t enough to make sure I could squeeze in enough field measurements to try and track down an LTE 700Mhz base with RSAMap, especially if I have to be trying to learn a new software, get a GPS receiver powered from the laptop, and have to do the walking on-foot.

The easiest solution to this was to order a spare laptop battery for the E431, and knowing of my prior experiences with local eBay sellers using Fastway couriers, I decided to double-check that this one wasn’t going to be using Fastway.

A Listing is Chosen

I searched for a listing of a compatible battery, at a competitive price. I found one from an undisclosed seller – and I carefully checked their shipping policy:

shipping-polic

The third bullet point says clearly:

  • All item (sic) will be shipped via AU post

I also checked their eBay listing shipping information, and no mention of Fastway was made. The shipping location was stated as Altona Gate, Victoria – a metropolitan area, meaning I should get it quickly.

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Paying promptly on Tuesday 10th March 2015, hoping to get it as soon as possible so I can give RSAMap a go (due to the 30-day trial limitations), I sat back and waited at home for the item to arrive.

Uh Oh! It Ships

Two days later, on Thursday 12th March 2015, bad news arrived in the form of a shipping notification from Fastway’s Fast-Label system.

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Despite all my diligence, the seller was not providing the service as described in his listing and opted to ship it with a service which I have had prior problems with. I crossed my fingers, since it had gone out already, and I couldn’t do anything about it at this point.

Where is the Package?

The package was lodged and collected on Thursday 12th March, and in general, Australia Post can manage a metro-to-metro delivery in 2-3 days reliably. As a result, I was expecting a delivery sometime Monday onwards.

I stayed home, waiting, from Monday 16th March through Wednesday 18th March, but no package arrived. No card arrived either. I had commitments, so I wasn’t home on Thursday – but surely a metro-to-metro shipment shouldn’t take this long.

I checked the online tracking, and it updated on Thursday 19th March to …

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I was freaking out. Who gave an Authority to Leave? Not me! Further to that, it claims it was delivered – but to where, or whom, was not noted. I checked my front door, porch, garage, bins and backyard to no avail. The package was not there.

The timing of the ATL was also suspect – it was after 5pm. The local Fastway driver typically knocks off at 3pm, so that didn’t seem right.

I have lost packages in the past, claimed to be delivered on tracking, where PayPal would not side with me on buyer protection and been out of pocket. I don’t want a repeat of that.

Enquire with Fastway

Seeing as I had little option, I lodged an enquiry with Fastway. They responded on Friday morning with a boilerplate response, which provided no further information aside from the ATL being authorized by the sender.

fastway-enquiry

I found that to be very negligent by the seller to provide ATL without any prior notice. Any form of ATL will disclaim Fastway from being liable for damage to the package or loss, meaning there can be no insurance claim on this package. Unless the seller is willing to foot the bill himself, which I doubt.

I sent back an annoyed reply, which fell on deaf ears. This is not how you run a courier business.

fastway-reply

I had one form of proof which they didn’t really care to hear about. I had installed a basic surveillance system which monitors the traffic passing my door, and my front door, due to local crime issues. I checked the constantly logged footage, and found no evidence of any Fastway vehicle or employee visiting my house, or indeed anyone, or evidence that any package had been delivered.

As such, it would seem the package is lost, and or negligently mis-delivered and probably never to be seen again.

I contacted the seller, being annoyed with the way the seller was dishonest about the shipping method, and did not provide any prior notification of an ATL. The seller was unapologetic, but not unsympathetic. He claimed that I could contact him again for a refund if it didn’t turn up within a month. I could get the battery from China in a month – why should I be paying extra to have it sooner from Australia if I have to wait the month … but maybe he knows something I don’t.

A Happy Ending?

Just this morning, Monday 23rd March, two weeks after I placed the order … a box turned up unannounced at my doorstep.

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As you can see by the consignment number, it was the package I had ordered, with the right consignment number and the ATL authorized by the sender. So at least that much is true. The package was dispatched from Laverton North, also a metro area in Victoria – next to Altona Gate. The package was labelled at the date which it claimed to have shipped, indicating the problem is with Fastway.

So just how did it end up on my doorstep on a Monday when it claimed ATL was performed the Thursday before? Was it a good samaritan, returning a misdelivered package at their own expense? Or was I expecting too much?

I checked the footage, and I was shocked. First the garage door footage:

fastway-garage

A person, dressed in Fastway uniform is seen entering the vicinity of my house at around 10:03am on Monday 23rd March. No van is seen, and no hand-held scanner either. It seems he may have parked outside and did this delivery “on foot”.

On leaving, one frame captures him glancing at the camera, as if to realize he has been caught in the act of lying.

The front door footage corroborates on this.

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The courier is clearly seen dropping off the package with no attempt to properly attain any proof of delivery. He tried his best to avoid looking at the camera as well, in case his face shows. I have a doorbell on my door, which he did not press, and he had obviously no intention of collecting a proper proof of delivery. He did not have his scanner with him.

Note that the timestamp differences between the two streams is due to the relative RTC time error between two computers which run the cameras – but both are NTP synchronized once a week, so the drift is <1 minute at the most.

The presence of an ATL only authorizes one to leave the package if they could not obtain a signature as proof of delivery, not instead of!!!

In short, my local Fastway driver is dishonestly marking packages as ATL when they had not been delivered at all.

Conclusion

Trying to buy this battery to extend my run-time, so I could utilize a 30-day trial of RSAMap (worth about US$4,500 outright) for a RoadTest was futile. The delivery itself cost 14 days from ordering, which was so much as to be moot now, as my trial is up.

This proves Fastway is the terrible company people claim they are – scoring a result of 1.3/5, where 1 is the lowest possible score. Taking eight business days to perform a metro to metro delivery is hardly acceptable.

But what is worse is the outright lies in claiming a package was ATL’d when no delivery attempt was made, causing needless stress and concern. It may help their drivers appear to be delivering packages within their “service charter” but it is all just an illusion.

The fact that the ATL system can be so easily abused by a driver is a cause for concern. An ATL with no location recorded is just not acceptable. I mean, a majority of people have a smartphone or camera nowadays, and it wouldn’t take much to take a photograph of the location with the package in the photo (although the driver can just steal the package after taking the photo). At least that would prove the driver was at the location he claimed to be when the ATL was done. GPS technology could be used as well, not allowing for a delivery to be signed off as ATL unless within ~200m of the address location.

The combination of the eBay seller being dishonest about the service he uses to ship his items, and the provision of an ATL which I never agreed to, created the perfect combination which could cause buyers to lose their money (as I have before).

Not happy, Jan! I cannot recommend Fastway, and if you get inadvertently roped in with Fastway, you better cross your fingers.

Postscript: The Plot Thickens

As it turns out, my original battery was an L11M6Y01. I chose a listing with this code in it, but the battery will not charge. Lenovo’s DRM produces this amusing message at start-up.

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In Windows, their own start-up utilities catch this too, and while the display shows AC connected, it also shows “not charging”.

notgenbattSo the battery arrived, at last, but it’s purely useless to me. What a disappointment.

Posted in Computing, Electronics, Opinion | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment