NextoDI will be showing their new NVS-25 storage bridge at IBC. This is the next step in their range of portable backup devices for solid state media. The current devices like the NVS2825 are brilliant for backing up media such as SxS or P2 cards. But as 4K becomes common and file sizes increase there is a growing need for fast, simple to use devices that can backup large files to high capacity hard drives and SSD’s. The new NVX25 is modular in design and can take adapters for most media types including SxS, XQD, P2, Red, AXS etc.
The device has two internal drives and a 3rd drive can be connected to it by USB 3. It can make up to 3 copies (1 to each drive) at the same time extremely quickly. It will CRC check your copies and produce a log of what has been copied. There is a 5″ screen to control the unit as well as for viewing playback of your backed up media. It even has an HDMI port to connect it to a larger monitor.
Finally an affordable way to securely backup large 4K files and raw on location without needing a computer. Very exciting!
I had heard about the QIO some time ago, so I approached Sonnet to see if I could borrow a unit to review. I was given the loan of a Sonnet QIO at NAB. I have been playing with it since then and you know what, it’s a great device. So what exactly is it? Well it is an extension box that allows you to connect a range of peripherals and flash memory cards to your computer via the PCI bus. The reason I wanted to borrow one was because the QIO is one of the few devices (the only device?) that allows you to connect SxS, Compact Flash and P2 cards to a computer using the high speed PCI bus with hot-swappable functionality. Hot Swap means you can eject and remove cards without having to re-boot the computer or do anything else, something that some of the other adapters on the market force you to do.
Installation was very straight forward. On my Mac Pro workstation I had to plug in a small PCI-X card into one of the vacant slots inside the rear of the machine. This is easy to do and should not put anyone off buying the device, it took me all of 5 minutes to plug the card in and install the drivers. Then a short cable runs from the back of the Mac Pro to the QIO and a separate power supply is plugged into the QIO for power.
On my Mac Book Pro I simply slotted the Sonnet express card PCI bus expansion adapter into the express card slot and then connected this to the main QIO unit via the extension cable and installed the drivers, again a 5 minute job, very simple.
If you do want to use it with a Mac Book Pro, you will need a model that has the express card slot. At the time of writing the device only works with Mac’s, but Windows support should be coming very soon. When buying a QIO there are two versions. The desktop version supplied with the desktop adapter or the laptop version with the express card slot adapter. The functionality is the same for both, it’s just a case of which adapter you need. You can buy the alternate adapter should you want both as an accessory.
So, I have it installed, how is it to use?
It’s really extremely straight forward. You simply pop your media into the slot and away you go. When your done with that card you eject it as you would with any other removable media and stick in the next card. On the workstation this was so much better than plugging in my XDCAM camcorder via USB.
Of course convenience is one thing, but how about performance? The QIO is fast, very fast. I was able to offload a full 16Gb SxS card in about 150 seconds, less than 3 minutes to the internal drive on the Mac Pro. That equates to an hours worth of XDCAM EX material in around 3 minutes or 20x real time. The performance for compact flash cards doesn’t disappoint either at around 15 seconds per Gb so clearly the transfer speed is limited by the speed of the CF card and not the connection as would be the case with USB or firewire. If you want to use the QIO for SD cards then you can use the supplied adapter. Again the performance is very good, but not as good as SxS and CF due mainly to the lower speeds of the SD cards.
Laptop Performance and Expansion.
One of the issues with Laptops is how do you expand them? It’s all very well being able to put an SxS card into the express card slot for fast off load, but where do you then put the material? On a Mac Book Pro you do have firewire 800 but this is still nowhere near as fast as the SxS card. As the SxS card is in the express card slot you can’t use it to add an eSATA drive, so your a little stuck. But not with the QIO. You see the QIO has a built in eSATA controller and 4 eSATA connectors on it’s rear. This means that you can plug in one or more eSATA drives to the QIO and transfer directly from the SxS card to an eSATA drive or drives. So now even on my Mac Book I can make multiple eSATA copies of my media at speeds of up to 200MB/s (total). So once again the speed is usually limited by the card and not the interface.
For a real torture test I put two full 16Gb SxS cards into the QIO and offloaded both cards at the same time to the Mac Pro’s raid drive. Where one card had taken a little under 3 minutes, two cards took abut 190 seconds, just a little over 3 minutes. Transferred this way, two cards at a time you could offload 2 hours of XDCAM EX material in around 4 mins, that’s an incredible 30x real time. I tried the same test with CF cards and again there was little difference in transfer speed between one card and two cards.
This is one fast device. If you have lots of media to off-load and backup it’s going to save you a lot of time. If you are a production company that works with large volumes of solid state media it will pay for itself very quickly in saved man-hours. If your working in the field with a Mac Book Pro the ability to connect both the media and eSATA devices at the same time makes the QIO a very interesting proposition. It is well constructed, simple to install and use, what more could you ask for.
Value for money?
That’s a little harder to answer. It depends on how much material you work with. It’s a fairly pricey device at around $800US or £700GBP for a card reader, but the time savings are substantial, especially if you are asking people to back up material at the end of a days shoot. The faster it can be done, the more likely it is that it will be done straight away, rather than put off until later. It’s also a lot more than just a card reader, the eSATA ports make it so much more useful for connecting drives or even a raid array to a laptop. Overall I think it is actually well worth the investment for the time savings alone. 8/10 (it would have been 9/10 if it didn’t require the power adapter). Great product.
I approached Sonnet and requested a loan QIO for this review, which Sonnet provided. I was not paid to write this and the views expressed are entirely my own. Speed tests were conducted using my own SxS (blue) cards with the QIO attached to a 1.1 first generation Mac Pro with an internal 4 drive raid array, or with a 15″ Mac Book Pro.
Those clever Korean’s at Nexto DI have been at it again. At first glance this might appear to be one of the original NVS2500 backup devices, which in itself is a very clever device that in my mind no self respecting solid state shooter should be without. However this is actually the new NVS2525 and Larry (hello Larry) from Nexto gave me a quick demo of it’s new features.
The main external change is the removal of the CF and SD cards slots from the top. These have been replaced with a dedicated slot for P2 cards. As before SxS cards slot in to an express card slot in the side of the unit. For SD, CF, MS and all those other sticks that you might one day use, an adapter is supplied that slides in to the express card slot. This has improved the speed of offload for these cards and now CF cards can be backed up almost as fast as SxS cards. Once again the backup speed is impressive, 80MB/s, yes Mega Bytes! In Larry’s demo he offloaded 2Gb of SxS data in 27 seconds, very impressive. But it doesn’t end there. The Nexto uses a hard drive internally for storage. I’ve had my 2500 for about a year now and I have dropped it, banged it around, taken it to the arctic and storm chasing. Despite this it has been 100% reliable. However despite the built in crash protection, gravity sensor, sector checking and all the other safety features, it is at the end of the day a single hard drive. So what Nexto have added is the ability to write to an external drive. The NVS2500 can also write to an external drive, but the difference is that the NVS2525 can write to it’s internal drive as well as an external drive…… in parallel. So backing up your valuable data takes exactly the same amount of time as before.. 27 seconds for 2Gb, but now you have two copies on two drives.
This is what a lot of production companies have been waiting for. Safe, secure, backups with full verification on to two separate drives without the need for a laptop or any other bulky gear. You can use most bus powered 2.5? esata drives for the external backup drive. Nexto supply a nice looking wallet style case that holds both the NVS2525 and the external drive.
While I was talking to Larry I also spotted a Nexto DI box with red rubber buffers. This one it turns out has been developed specifically for backing up SxS cards from the Arri Alexa. The other little box in my pictures is an external battery pack for the Nexto DI devices. It has a little LED battery meter and looks really nice. Perhaps Larry could give us some more info?
I have been playing with a Sony PXU-MS240 SxS backup device. It’s quite different to my NextoDi NVS2500 even though it essentially does the same job. I will be reviewing it in some detail very soon, but here are my first thoughts.
The key feature is that unit has a removable 240Gb hard drive module. Extra drives are readily available and the removable drives can be used as stand-alone USB hard drives without the main unit. Each hard drive cartridge comes in a sturdy box that is much like a Betacam cassette box. There is space on the drives for labels and the box has an insert sleeve that can be used to write on, just like a tape. Clearly this has been done so that as you fill up drives you can pop them on a shelf for longer term storage as you would with a tape. The beauty of the MS240 is that you never need to off load footage, you just add cartridges as you fill them up.
The main unit is 12 volt powered or can run off a standard EX battery. There is a slot at the front for a SxS card and a big Copy button on the top panel along with the power button and menu controls. There is also a small and very clear LCD display that tells you what the unit is doing. In the setup menu you can choose whether to simply copy the SxS cards contents or to do a copy with full verification in one pass.
Another way to verify your clips is to plug it in to an EX camera. The MS240 is supplied with a USB to Express card adapter. You plug the adapter into an EX’s SxS slot and the USB end into the MS240 and then you can use the EX to playback any clips on the MS240 in full HD. This is something the Nexto cannot do. It also means that you could use the MS240 to store finished edits for playback via an EX over HDSDi.
The build quality is good and the range of connectivity is also good with eSATA and USB on the main unit and USB on the cartridges. A 16Gb card can be copied to the drive in around 5 mins.
Camera setup, reviews, tutorials and information for pro camcorder users from Alister Chapman.