Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Hyperdrive UDMA - Fasten your Seatbelts!

So we were using an older Epson P-2000’s to fill the roll of onsite card backup and this was working well for us …..until we started buying the UDMA versions of our compact flash cards. Our Epson would not read them (in all fairness, I think the new versions take them). This put a crunch on our wedding workflow as typically all our cards are copied to this one drive on location so that when we get back to the office, it’s only a matter of transferring all the images from one location and not 6 different cards. Who wants to get home at 1 AM and start shuffling cards in the reader?
So, when I was ready to upgrade, I quickly came to realize again how much the “gig per dollar” factor was with the Epson units. The problem here is that with the Epson units you are not only buying a card back-up system, but an all around media play with all kinds of bells and whistles. Nice, if that is how you use it. For us, we only needed a portable means of on site back-up and a place to pool all the images for a single point upload for when we returned to the office. After doing some searching, I came across the Sanho Hyperdrive site. My eyes where quickly focused on the newest badest ass version (as I am popular for) called the Hyperdrive UDMA. Boasting blazing transfer speed on both the UDMA and non-UDMA card versions it also had a great “gig per dollar” factor. I knew this would work for us. I put an order in for the unit and was told they had not even started distributing in the US yet. So I waited…and waited…and waited. Eventually it showed up.

Just and FYI, I got the 250 gig version and they have a few sizes to choose from. Our approach again is that this also serves as a job by job back-up. Once the drive is full, we will start wiping 50-75 gig of the oldest jobs off at a time. Can never have enough back-up!

My first impression, though the body look was very clean, was that it felt a little cheap. The power on switch almost felt too loose as if it was going to come off. When you tip the unit from side to side you can here something inside clicking back and forth in there. So right away I was apprehensive. What was cool is it that it came with a car charging USB power adapter too. So I powered it up barely reading through the quick start guide (yes, just like a man) and started looking around. Again coming from the Epson units the navigation also did not seem that intuitive or friendly. Another plus was the neoprene case that will add some protection for the unit.
So, I held down my opinions and off to it’s first wedding it went with us. Remember, we use it as a back-up and not primary storage device. Please don’t gamble with images until you proven the process first = ) We had stopped using the Epsons at this point all together anyway as it would only take some of our cards so I had we had nothing to lose. Time came to copy the first card. I loaded it in an initiated the back-up and ………HOLY &*$@ FAST !!! Right there in the middle of a wedding, a devilish grin came over me as I was ready to start cart wheeling across the dance floor. Maybe I was just coming from to old a technology, but there was no mistake in there claims. Previously we would still be copying images on the ride home from a wedding hoping that batteries would not run out mid-copy (yup again, I was too cheap to by the car charger). Never again though! This beast was eating data from both of our cameras in stride.

So here is the Tic Tac Time Trial:
7.6 Gig from a SanDisk Extreme III NON-UDMA card
6 Minutes and 58 Seconds.

The battery life is awesome too. I have not put a dent in it yet and I think I have charged it maybe once or twice.

It likes to shut itself down when it is not in use which can be a little freaky at times. Still not being used to the speed, I can never tell if it finished the back-up when I come back and it is off already, though it has. I will have to look at the setting preferences more and see if that can be changed. Again, like a guy, the manual receives minimal attention.

I will update you on these items as I find this stuff out.

In short, nothing bad has happened and it is the fastest that I have come across. I would not recommend banging it around at this point. I will let you all know when I have an accident and I’ll tell you how it does.

What is also cool is that it displays the data transfer rate as well as the expected finish time. This proved to be accurate within a couple of seconds.

Update 5/14/09
I am reading that shutting down the "create thumnail" option increases the speed. I wil have to try this an report back.

Here is another review on the Hyperdrive that I came across at Luminous Landscapes. Check it out

Update 11/21/10
Read the latest in field update!