OWC’s portable drive, the Envoy Pro, originally came in a USB 3 version, but with the push for ever higher throughput speeds required for 4K, HDR and 8K video shooting and streaming, the company has introduced another, new 300g lightweight Envoy Pro EX that’s been equipped with a captive Thunderbolt 3 cable. The Thunderbolt 3 Envoy Pro EX actually is a series of devices, all equipped with Thunderbolt 3, but split up in the Envoy Pro EX series and the Envoy Pro EX (VE) series, which is even faster and has bigger capacities.
All-in-one computers like the iMac – even the iMac Pro – rarely have enough ports to satisfy our needs. CalDigit’s small-footprint, cast-aluminium Thunderbolt Station 3 Plus is – what we usually call – a dock that adds a whopping 15 ports to any Thunderbolt 3 machine. The options go beyond the conventional, expanding connectivity as well as charge laptops.
The newest SSD Crucial recently released has Micron’s new 64-layer NAND memory and is the first high-speed SSD to leave the factory since the Lexar brand was sold. The MX500, as it’s called, is in some tests the fastest SSD currently available. It’s so fast that it suffers from the performance limitations of its form factor, which is a 2.5in SATA disk.
How efficient is a small, 2.5in mobile disk station with two disks inside? Very efficient, it turns out. Even more so if you can put those two small disks in one of four RAID modes. And if that external station also delivers on speed, you’re sold — or at least, I am. It’s flat, it’s fanless and there are two 2.5in hard disks or SSDs inside. It’s the OWC Mercury Elite Pro Dual Mini, which is a mouthful for a small unit that isn’t much bigger than its two internal disks put next to each other. OWC Digital sent me an SSD version with 1TB of space on its SSDs in RAID 1 mode. This small-footprint OWC device offers USB 3.1 Gen 2 performance and can be bus-powered.
Here’s a puzzle: you’re shooting video or photos on location, using a CalDigit AV Pro 2. At your workstation you have a RAID system that you normally use for offloading images or video clips shot when in the studio directly. The AV Pro 2 is also used as a secondary offload drive for those studio-shot clips. That introduces a problem: how can you make sure — easily, quickly and simply — that everything on the AV Pro 2 is synchronised with the RAID? The answer can be to change your workflow, buy a new AV Pro 2 that’s going to be used only as secondary offload station, or buy a $50 licence to a software called ChronoSync.
With its new storage product range, CalDigit takes a completely different approach from its competitors. The company seems to realise more than any other supplier that Apple’s portable solutions are poor in legacy connection capabilities. Hence, the upcoming T4 RAID system and the recently released AV Pro 2 single-disk solution will charge your laptop and adds a USB 3.0 hub to get more connectivity without adding extra devices.
The OWC Mercury Elite Pro Dual features two Thunderbolt 2 ports, one USB 3.1 Gen. 1 port and all of the cables you need to start using it immediately. You can set this small-footprint unit to RAID 0, RAID 1, disk spanning and JBOD modes. It has a black minimal design and you can buy it as a bare enclosure or with disks already installed. I got the chance to test the 2TB version.
Verbatim is the only manufacturer of optical media that makes dependable media. Even as they’re well over a decade old, their Archival Grade recordable DVDs and their recordable Blu-ray discs can still be burned and read without a glitch. I tested their M-DISC Blu-Ray disc that can hold a whopping 100GB.
Ever since the late Steve Jobs declared war on optical discs for distributing music and movies, the industry and media have been telling us the optical disc is dead. Far from it, I’d say, especially if you think about whether you’re comfortable with entrusting your precious data with cloud service providers. There isn’t a month going by without a hack or a security breach, ransomware being demanded and other such alarming events. Backing up to optical media has its benefits. And with the right equipment and the media to match, your risk of data loss is considerably lower. The OWC Mercury Pro Optical Drive might fit the bill.
I tested a 480GB OWC Mercury Extreme Pro 6G SSD with an Atomos Shogun Flame as well as with an iMac. The Mercury Extreme Pro 6G has been certified for use in Blackmagic Design equipment and has a maximum read speed of 559MB/s and write speed of 527MB/s. My own tests revealed slightly lower, although pretty impressive figures.