Grass Valley REVPRO External USB Removable Storage Drive Review

Gigabytes to Go

If you aren't a fan of backing up to tape, or you're swapping out internal hard drives more often than taking out the garbage, you'll be happy to know that REV PRO is here.

Grass Valley has been making broadcast video gear for longer than most of us have been making video. Along with their array of reputable cameras and decks, Grass Valley also offers a removable media storage device, called the REV PRO. The REV PRO is specifically made for video producers who need a robust way to back up the mounds of data that video editing requires. Each disc allows for multiple levels of security, adding to the single level of protection of its consumer cousin, the Iomega REV. We tested an external, portable REV PRO drive with a removable 35GB disc. These are capable of supporting everything from DV to HDV to HD video, for playback and editing.

REV'd Right

The REV PRO external USB model ships with one 35GB disc and all the usual suspects: an installation CD-ROM, user manual, AC power supply and a USB cable. The drive is an interesting piece; it feels inadequate at first due to its plastic enclosure, which bows under any firm squeeze. Most of the portable hard drives we have floating around the office have aluminum enclosures, so the REV PRO stands out. This was our only main qualm.

Along its thin sides, the REV PRO features blue, ribbed gripping strips. These are useful while handling the drive, and easily lured us into holding the unit at these points. The grip material is just soft enough to push a finger nail into its synthetic flesh and is bonded well with the enclosure. The front and back of the REV PRO drive are nice and simple. A drive door with a spring-loaded flap graces the front, along with an LED eject button. The eject button is stiff and responsive. A USB port and AC power input rest on the back, which will be a familiar sight to many users. No "pro-only" funny business going on here.

Two more features will likely bring relief to those of you in cramped editing station: stack-ability and lock-ability. The REV PRO has a nice horizontal ridge that secures multiple drives together when placed in a vertical stack. To lock down your device to the desk, two security slots allow for easy configuration with a Kensington lock. We like this extra security slot and wish we found it on more portable drives. However, it's what's on the inside that counts, right?

REV Revealed

The REV PRO line is a sturdier, faster version of Iomega's REV product. When you insert a REV PRO disc, you are welcomed with a comforting sound as the disc is pulled into place. It is the sound of a well-crafted product made to fit together closely. So close in fact, when the disc locks into place, it is the equivalent of being in a class 200 clean room, leaving very little room for dust interfering with your disc platters. This is one feature that adds durability and distinguishes the product from a just any ol' typical drive. The 35GB disc seems very solid, with one exception. The red plastic accent on the back of the disc is removable, which might present a problem if it's not properly secured to the disc casing. We easily snapped it off and on and noticed it's rather durable. The main duty of this red plastic seems to be for labeling purposes, but we think it could be a liability if you're careless.

To the REV PRO's credit, nothing failed under normal use. Each disc comes in a nice Mini DV-like case that offers easy labeling and minimal protection against dust and moisture. You can expect to pay around $70 per disc, or a little less when purchasing them in larger packs of three or ten ($675). The REV PRO disc also allows for password protection. Choose from password security at the administrator level, called the Master password, or the individual User level.

The overall design is made to limit the risk of lost data, something that plagues most video editors from time to time. Grass Valley claims a 30-year archival life on their discs, even after millions of re-writes. While their warranty isn't of the 30-year variety, it is substantial. Each REV PRO disc is backed by a 5-year manufacturer's warranty and the drives are backed by a 2-year warranty.


REV'd Up

We think these drives will shine in a home studio environment, so we tested the compatibility and transfer times between editing machines. After going through the mandatory install wizard, we loaded up a REV PRO disc with 28GB of video and proceeded to edit. We used the REV PRO drive with both our HP xw9300 and our Power Mac G5 in the VM Testing Lab. We didn't come across any hiccups going "cross platform" from the PC to the Mac. Transferring the video took approximately 33 minutes, but once it's on the disc, you can edit directly from it. In fact, these discs have a sustained data transfer rate of 110Mbps for a single stream, or 55 Mbps per two streams. What does this mean? Well, it means that the REV PRO can take more than we can dish out.

Megabytes-shmegabytes

Now we have 35 Gigabytes to walk around with, as we go about transferring and editing video. The REV PRO disc capacity makes putting a whole project on a disc a reality. We think it's fun and user friendly, but also a powerful solution for any up-and-coming video producer.

TECH SPECS

Platform: PC
Operating System: Microsoft Windows XP with Service Pack 2
Processor: Pentium 4 1.4GHz (DV), Pentium 4 3.4GHz HT (HDV), Dual Intel Xeon 2.8GHz (HD), SSE2 for AMD systems
Marketed Raw Capacity: 35GB
Formatted Capacity: 32.5GB as tested
Minimum System Requirements: Windows 2000 Professional or Windows 2000 Server, Windows XP Professional, Windows XP Professional x64, Windows Server 2003, Windows Small Business Server 2003, Mac OS 10.4 or Mac OS Server 10.4 and above
External Interface: USB 2.0 (Available in FireWire also)
Disc Dimensions: 3/16"H x 3"W x 3"D
Drive Dimensions: 1.5"H x 4 3/8"W x 6 1/8"D
Total Weight: 14 oz.

STRENGTHS

  • Portability
  • Overall manufacturing quality
  • Random access

WEAKNESSES

  • Plastic drive enclosure
  • Pricey discs

SUMMARY

The REV PRO is a fool-proof way to back up and transfer your video, especially if you're using multiple computers to edit.

$499 (includes one 35GB REV PRO disc)
Thomson Grass Valley
49 Smith Street
Englewood, NJ 07631
www.thomsongrassvalley.com

Andrew Burke is a world traveler working on a documentary in the jungles of South America.

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