Shining Technologies CitiDISK HDV 120GB Direct-to-Edit Device Review

What’s that you say? You say you still record high definition on tape? That may sound like a question from the future, but after using Shining Technology’s CitiDISK HDV hard drive recording system, we know you’ll be asking it too. The CitiDISK HDV is the perfect counterpart to your existing HDV camera. Record to hard disk at the touch of button, and create video files for immediate use in your NLE. Cut down production time by creating an instant backup. Whether you’re traveling or in the studio, having the high-definition direct-to-edit capabilities of the Citi-DISK HDV will be very valuable.

CitiDISK Ups the Ante

Even though its storage has increased, the new CitiDISK HDV has the same small design as the DV model. Packed inside this 10 ounce device is a 100GB shock-mounted laptop hard drive, a FireWire bus, and a rechargeable battery. The 2.5" 5,400 rpm hard drive is no slouch either. Many small hard drives revolve at 4,200 rpm, which is OK for most applications but isn’t ideal for video. The 6-pin FireWire bus ensures that your HDV video records without a hitch. And since FireWire seems to be such a standard for video, it feels quite familiar.

An added advantage is the ability for bus-powered operation. Forgot the power adapter? No problem, just plug the CitiDISK into your NLE via FireWire to charge or start editing. Although the internal battery should last an hour and a half on full charge, we used the CitiDISK on battery power to shoot and edit for much longer. If you need the extra juice though, external batteries are available. Using more battery power will allow you to take full advantage of the product, since you can record and store up to 420 minutes of HDV video on the drive itself. All this can be kept on your hip with the supplied carrying case and FireWire (IEEE 1394) cable.

Banish Dropouts

One of the great features of the Citi-DISK HDV is its ability to simultaneously record to the hard drive while the camera records to tape. With a tape loaded into your HDV camera, pressing the camera’s record button triggers the CitiDISK too. This means you will always have a copy of your video. No more worries about a dropout ruining your only good take. You can use your video files right away, and store your tape as a permanent backup without it being damaged. You can even record HDV on tape while recording a down-converted DV version to disk. Talk about a time saving. This mode saves you from having to convert your video in the editing stage.

The CitiDISK HDV doesn’t make using a tape mandatory. Say you’ve got four blank tapes in your camera bag but the shoot goes on for six hours; not a problem. You can fit approximately six and a half hours on the 100GB drive.

The portable hard drive design is also rugged and proven to take the bumps and bruises of the demanding videographer. However, the only true "tapeless" option comes with some caveats: like CitiDISK’s regular DV model, you have to reach down and trigger recording on the CitiDISK by hand. Also, the file system (FAT32) limits each file to 2GB in size, approximately ten minutes per shot. The drive continues to record but breaks the files into 2GB chunks. Hopefully there will be an update that allows for more functionality.

Ready For the Light Show?

By the looks of it, the movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind may have influenced some key design decisions. Since there is no LCD screen to display your options and settings, the CitiDISK uses blinking green, orange and red buttons to indicate which recording mode you’re using. The green and red buttons are pressed (sometimes in combination) to navigate. New to the fray is the Orange button, which gives you instant playback options.

When switching modes, things can get complicated in a hurry. For instance, the green and red lights flash repeatedly upon startup, and the user has to cycle through the recording modes. To select AVI mode for use in Adobe Premiere, you press the red light during the startup sequence. But the red light is also used to trigger tapeless recording. To switch to Quicktime mode, select the green light. To record to Matrox RT100, you’ll need to get to red and green. Luckily, there is only one HDV recording mode, and it’s the default. On top of all of this, there is an awkward battery on/off switch which requires a sharp object to switch on and off. Unless you already know the user interface (or you keep the guide handy), we highly recommend sticking to only one recording format while you’re out in the field.

With so many HDV cameras sold in 2005, the CitiDISK HDV gives more value to each and every one by allowing for tapeless recording. And even if you don’t own a high definition camcorder, the CitiDISK HDV is a solid solution for regular DV recording with room to grow.

TECH SPECS

Platform: PC or Mac

Operating System: Win 98SE/2000/XP, Mac OSX or Linux

Default Format: FAT32

HDV/DV Recording Capacity: 420 minutes

Interface: FireWire

Sustained Data Rate: 12Mbytes/sec

Dimensions (mm): 77 x 135 x 24

Weight: 10 oz

Drive Capacity: 100GB

Drive Speed: 5,400 rpm

STRENGTHS

  • Bus powered charging and recording
  • Durable and lightweight
  • Defaults to HDV recording

WEAKNESSES

  • Confusing user interface

SUMMARY

The CitiDISK HDV is a great new addition to the direct-to-edit market.

$949

Shining Technology, Inc.

10533 Progress Way, Ste. C

Cypress, CA 90630

(714) 761-9598

www.shining.com

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