Storing Your Memories With Nexto
Digital photographers have had the luxury of using portable storage products for years. They fill up their memory cards with gorgeous photos, and transfer the photos to a portable device for safe keeping. This kind of task was difficult with camcorders using DV tape. Now, thanks to camcorders increasingly using memory cards to record video, we’re ready to take action (or rather, call Action!) and copy our video in the field. The Nexto Video Storage allows the transfer of digital video in a quick and straightforward way; either pop in your memory card, or connect your camcorder directly to the Nexto Video Storage. It’s a great tool for video producers who work with several memory cards, or those that don’t want the added bulk of carrying a laptop to the job. The Nexto is simple to use, and adds a layer of security by verifying that your video has been copied correctly.
Accessories, Oh My
The Nexto Video Storage sells as a complete kit; a bundle with everything you need to stay portable while shooting video. The unit itself is not much bigger than an external hard drive. One easy-to-see button is placed on the front of the device. This is the Copy button, which also controls other features of the Nexto. The only other feature on the front of the Nexto is a small LCD screen, which gives you a visual readout of your data transfer. Along the edges of the metal case are various memory card slots, ports and power inputs. The Nexto actually has two power inputs; one for the external battery and another for AC power.
Although the device fits in a jacket pocket, the accessories will need a bit more room. An extra rechargeable Li-Ion polymer battery, car charger, AC adapter, Velcro cover, a USB 2.0 and eSATA cable are all included. Interestingly, the USB 2.0 cable comes in two parts which allows you to transfer footage from your camcorder and use the same cable to connect to a computer. Nexto was surely thinking clearly when they made the external Li-Ion polymer battery – it has an even larger capacity than the devices own internal battery. And yes, that eSATA cable means the Nexto Video Storage has the fastest connection currently available in a portable drive.
Storing Our Video
To test out the Nexto Video Storage, we shoot video with different types of memory cards out in the field. We choose SDHC cards and Panasonic P2 cards, using the Nexto to transfer and store our precious video footage. The Nexto includes an SDHC card slot, among many others, but doesn’t include slots for either Panasonic P2 or Sony SxS memory cards. However, the Nexto is made to communicate with these professional card formats via USB 2.0.
We start by pressing the Copy button on the Nexto to power on the device. The internal hard drive spins up, and text is displayed on the LCD screen telling us, “X-Copy Ready”. We’re very pleased to find that the Nexto has a fully charged battery, so we forgo plugging in the AC power adapter. We whip out our 4GB SDHC card and insert it into the side of the device. Our video transfer starts immediately. Nexto’s X-Copy technology seems to do the trick; our video transfers much faster than with a normal card reader. With a short Beep (a feature we can turn Off if we want) the Nexto shows us that our transfer is successful and gives us an LCD readout of our remaining hard drive capacity.
A really handy feature of the Nexto Video Storage is its auto verify. In this mode the Nexto takes more time to copy our footage because it “double checks” our files. In doing so we feel the most secure, and we’re ready to erase our memory cards to begin shooting again. We also test the Nexto connected to a Panasonic AG-HVX200 P2 camcorder. To copy the contents from our P2 cards, we setup the HVX200 to detect external hard drives, connect the camcorder to the Nexto using the supplied USB 2.0 cable, and power on the Nexto. Our camcorder is instantly recognized. The 8GB P2 card holding 20 minutes of DVCPro-HD video is copied in 5 minutes and 10 seconds; not slow for USB 2.0 but not as fast as using a device with a PC Card slot. However, P2 cards are unique in that the number of individual video clips dictates how fast the entire card transfers; a P2 card having 24 different clips on it will have a slower transfer than a card with only one clip recorded to it.
Our P2 card included 16 individual clips from our video shoot at Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge, the site of our nation’s largest hand-painted mural. The Nexto can only detect one memory card at a time, so our camcorder and the Nexto have to be re-started to transfer our second P2 card. This isn’t a big hassle, but it does take some thought during our production. We run the entire gamut of tests using only the internal battery. Back at the studio, we connect the Nexto to a Mac Pro desktop computer and transfer the contents. Using eSATA to transfer video is a different experience than using USB 2.0 or FireWire 800. Our eSATA transfer speeds were over 4 times as fast as USB 2.0. Unfortunately, the eSATA specs don’t allow our computer to power the Nexto’s hard drive like we’re used to with FireWire.
After transferring over 20GB of video, the battery icon on the Nexto hasn’t budged. Nexto claims the internal Li-Ion polymer battery will allow 60GB to be transferred on a single charge, plus 80GB with the external battery.
After some good time spent with the Nexto Video Storage, we’re happy with the results. Our video was verified by the Nexto and we felt confident enough to erase the original footage off of our memory cards. This product is aimed at camcorders using consumer memory cards. If you use SxS or P2 cards and desire faster transfer times with professional media, look into Nexto’s sister product, the Nexto Video Storage Pro. Nexto’s battery life and transfer speeds over eSATA can’t be beat.
Size: 128mm x 77mm x 23mm
Weight: 230g (With Hard Drive)
Hard Drive Type: 2.5″ SATA
Hard Drive Capacity: 160GB
Inputs: USB 2.0, eSATA
Memory Cards Accepted: CF, MD, SD, SDHC, MMC, MemoryStick, MS Pro-HG, MS Pro Magic, xD (Type S/M/H)
Internal Battery: Li-Ion, 1550mAH
External Battery: Li-Ion 2200mAH
Compatible Operating Systems: Mac OS 9.2, OSX or above; Windows Vista/XP/2000/ME; Linux 2.4.18 or above
Accessories: USB cable, AC Power adapter, external battery, Cigarette Power adapter, eSATA cable, cover
- Long Battery Life
- Connects using super-fast eSATA
- On-screen menu takes getting used to
The Nexto Video Storage offers terrific options for security and portability when using memory card-based camcorders.
Contributing Editor Andrew Burke is an independent producer who has shot video on many continents around the world.
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