|Working mobile backup using the|
Hyperdrive Colorspace UDMA2
Unfortunately, the weak spot of all current wireless hard disk drives is their abysmal low wireless performance. They barely can send or receive a hand full of megabytes per second. While this performance is just enough for some simple low bitrate video, it is far from the throughput that any hald-decent footage demands. In the end, today's typical mass-market Wi-Fi mobile hard disk solutions heavily suck.
So I started researching again and finally found and then ordered a specialized device for backing up my video SD memory cards while on a journey. And without the need to carry around a notebook, yet with satisfying backup performance...
A Memory Odyssee
My research for dedicated mobile backup solutions didn't turn up too many result. There are only two or three vendors left that offer devices for backing up memory cards without the need for a notebook. One is NextoDI (Korea) and the other is Sanho (PR of China). Digital Foci seems to have not updated the firmware of their Picture Porter II anymore with the last update dating back to 2011.
The main reason for so few solutions is probably that these dedicated devices at least cost as much as a simple netbook, sometimes even much more. And yet they even cannot play back videos themselves. Any cheap netbook can do this. Next, there aren't too many customers that are in need of a dedicated backup solution. Many just grab their notebook. But I don't want to travel with a notebook. Most vendors thus left this market, such as Epson.
While NextoDi seems to produce quite decent devices, they are difficult to get over here. In contrast, I can order a «Hyperdrive Colorspace UDMA2» made by Sanho through a shop that is even in my region. For this reason I went with the Sanho solution.
Sanho Hyperdrive Colorspace UDMA2
Two days later my order arrived. The small parcel contained a neat box (see also the photo above) in a decent design. In it, I found the following items, as shown in my next photo below: the backup device itself, mains adapter, USB cable, a protective sleeve, a Wi-Fi module, a screwdriver as well as two spare screws, and finally a printed English manual.
|Box contents ... there's even a printed and comprehensible manual!|
You bet! A real printed user manual. And comprehensible. In correct English, give or take some minor glitches. I never expected such a surprise! And no obligatory yet useless CDROM filled with junk software.
Consequently, the Hyperdrive Colorspace UDMA2 looks a lot like a PDA brick fallen out of time into this now. It clearly lacks any chance on a design prize. But maybe it is Darth Vader's Gameboy ... who knows? A class of its own, this ddesignat least comes with inbuilt theft protection.
The name of this slightly bizarre monolith won't ever roll off your tongue easily ... and is a clear landmark of the Chinese pleasure in coining the unwieldiest product names possible, far off any Asian wording beauty. In the end, this device truly is a remarkable piece of multi-modal art. Name follows form, follows function.
With the Hyperdrive Colorspace UDMA2 there aren't much options to ponder about, except fot the size of the internal hard disk. I went for the no-disk-at-all option, that is, the HDU2-000 model. I then separately bought a Samsung 1TB 2.5inch HDD at a local electronics chain store. Installing my own disk was a simple task, easily carried out in at most two or three minutes. For convenience, the diskless unit comes with a screwdriver and spare screws. Simply remove two screws, next remove the back cover (as also shown on the installation card). Plug the disk correctly into the socket, close the back cover, and fix the screws. Done.
And yes, don't forget to remove the transport safeguard from the battery. Anyway, the printed card that comes with the box clearly reminds you to do this and how to do it.
Formatting the newly installed hard disk is also a piece of cake, thanks to the formatting menu item unter the settings main item. The firmware of the Hyperdrive Colorspace UDMA2 also displays S.M.A.R.T data about the hard disk, such as detected bad blocks, drive temperature, and some more.
Luckily, the device battery is easy to replace by a user, simply open the back cover after you've loosened the two screws. The LiPo battery has a capacity of 2600mAh and a standard form factor which is easy to obtain from many places. The battery gets charged inside the device whenever you plug in the separate mains adapter. Unfortunately, charging through the USB connector is not possible. This is unfortunate as you always need to carry the dedicated mains adaptor with you when traveling. If you loose it you can't charge the device anymore. The mains adaptor delivers 2A at 5V, so charging through the USB port would have been possible.
In the box you'll also find a neoprene jacket that protects your brick from scratches, especially its display. The jacket is just for protection, as it perfectly fits the size of the Hyperdrive Colorspace UDMA2, without any further space to store the Wi-Fi module, USB cable, or mains adapter. This equipment needs to go into the photo luggage, anyway...
Then there's a printed manual in the box ... something that's rarely seen these days. Much to my delight the manual is written in good English and with many illustrations. I can but note that this makes this Chinese product stand out from the masses.
Finally, there's also a Wi-Fi module in the box. I found this add-on to be of mixed use. Slow as all wireless hard disks and barely usable for real video footage. You don't need a separate app for your tablet or smart phone but use the integrated web browsers instead.
Backup in the Field
It only takes five seconds or so after switching on the device to fully boot it. You'll then be greeted by a simple and clear user interface. For navigation you simply use the four-way cursor ring and the center button. The overall quality of the user interface is okay, with some minor stubborn quirks. At first, I tried to touch the user interface elements on screen but then quickly learned that this monolith isn't this smart, unfortunately.
I was bitten by the user interface quirks when I tried to update the device firmware at first. I simply couldn't make the monolith find the firmware on neither an SD card nor the hard disk. Luckily, Sanho's customer service did a really great job and quickly led my through the correct update procedure via live chat. The key to success here is to select the drive using cursor right instead of the center OK button. Only then I was able to select the specific firmware file. If you press OK on the right drive, the user interface tries to open the drive itself and fails. Oh well. But the customer service quickly saved my day.
|Accepts either a SD or CF card, then copies its contents onto its internal hard disk.|
After this slightly odd upgrade experience I put the device to a first real test. I inserted an SD card full of video and photo files. Then I simply selected,the topmost menu option for Import and went for the easy route, importing everything. The Hyperdrive Colorspace UDMA2 also offers incremental imports, as well as selective imports only of a specific directory with all its subdirectories.
In my tests, import runs at approximately 17 Mbytes per second. Importing a full 32GB memory card thus requires roughly half an hour. In my opinion this is sufficiently fast, more so when seen in comparism with wireless hard disk units. However, even with my fast SanDisk Extreme cards, I never saw more than 17 Mbyte/s.
There is much room to the 27/28 Mbyte/s claimed by Sanho. I never reached such performance figures. I know for sure that the SanDisk Extreme microSD cards actually perform even better in my USB 3.0 card reader. However, I doubt that the Hyperdrive can reach these figures in reality. At least, I couldn't reproduce the acclaimed performance figures.
|Sucks in 32GB into the black monolith about half an hour.|
Even if the photo above may give the wrong impression: you can import data from SD cards also while solely running on the internal battery. And while the import status dialog shows only 8.3 mangled file names, the device correctly copies over the full file names. No need to worry.
Retrieving Your Backup at Home...
After returning home from a beautiful journey with a disk filled up with your video impressions, just plug in an USB cable into the Hyperdrive Colorspace UDMA2 and hook it up to your PC or NAS. You can then mount the internal hard disk as a FAT32 volume and pull the video files from it. Throughput is quite okay: I regularly get a reading throughput of 40 MBytes/s. In case you may be tempted to give Wi-Fi a test drive ... forget about it, it's painstakingly slow. Use the cable.
Interestingly, Sanho specifies USB the transfer rate at only 33 MBytes/s. Yet my KDE Linux constantly measured better performance at 40 MBytes/s.
As I already hinted at above, Wi-Fi capability is added using a separate Wi-Fi module. This module plugs into an extension port to the right of the Hyperdrive Colorspace UDMA2. It is rather limited in its performance and may be just sufficient to browse the disk and watch some photos while on a journey. The Wi-Fi performance isn't sufficient for medium to high bitrate video footage.
The black monolith either acts as an access point. Alternatively it can log into an existing access point. But unfortunately, the low Wi-Fi performance doesn't make this add-on a really useful tool. Additionally, it really drains the battery rapidly.
If you need to backup your video footage and your photos while on a journey and without the need for a notebook, then there is not much choice of solutions. The Sanho Hyperdrive Colorspace UDMA2 is a compact black monolith that does exactly this: backing up your files from SD and CF memory cards onto its internal hard disk. Backup speed is fair. The price of the device is acceptable.
Besides its primary backup function, this device has some additional goodies, such as a photo viewer that even decodes raw photo files. There is also a fule manager, and some more. However, I'm not discussing these functions here, as this blog article already is more than long enough.