Review PD70x Review

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Review : CompactDrive PD70X with 120gb HD
Reviewer : Darryn Reeder (www.dreederuk.com)
Contact : dreederuk@ntlworld.com

Supplier : Eastgear
Manufacturer : CompactDrive

Price : £255.00 (inc P&P)

Packaging/Delivery info

Webbased order placed 11.25am March 20th - Arrived 10am March 24th.
Sent from Singapore VIA Fedex




Package Contents

  • PD70X +120gb
  • 16x AA Nimh 2500mAh
  • Car Adapter
  • 1 hour Rapid Charger
  • Belt Case



Specs

  • PD70X (BIOS 2.1)
  • Samsung 5400RPM 8mb Cache 120gb 2.5” HD


Test Equipment

  • Sandisk 1gb Extreme III CF
  • Crucial 1gb CF
  • Sandisk 2gb CF
  • Sony 1gb MemoryStick ProDuo + adapter
  • konnoc 2500mAh NiMH Batteries
  • Sanyo 2500mAh NiMH Batteries

 
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Test 1
1gb of Large Files from CF to HD

I formatted each memory card and copied a 917mb ISO file into the cards root directory.
I put the PD70X unit onto mains power, formatted the PD70X, and then inserted the first type of memory card, and timed it whilst it copied the 917mb file onto the PD70X harddrive.
I then repeated the procedure for each type of memory card.

Results

Code:
		[u]Sandisk XIII 1gb	Crucial 1gb	Sandisk 2gb	Sony MS 1gb[/u]
Time (Seconds)	107.84			174.64		109.56		200.50
MB/Sec		8.5			5.25		8.37			4.57
Conclusion

8.5mb/sec is impressive, it shows that the drive is capable of handling large files extremely well, it would benefit users of higher resolution camera bodies, where larger files are involved. This also highlights that 8.5mb/s is pretty much the maximum for the PD70X, as the Sandisk 1gb Extreme III and normal 2gb give very similar times, the Extreme III is rated by the manufacturers to have a read speed of 20mb/s and the normal 2gb is only rated at 40x which I believe is only 6mb/s which it appears to blitz in this test.


Test 2
1gb of Small Files from CF to HD

I formatted each memory card and copied 752 small files (1.0-1.5mb)(958mb total) into a couple of directories on the cards.
I put the PD70X unit onto mains power, formatted the PD70X, and then inserted the first type of memory card, and timed it whilst it copied the files onto the PD70X harddrive.
I then repeated the procedure for each type of memory card.

Results

Code:
		[u]Sandisk XIII 1gb	Crucial 1gb	Sandisk 2gb	Sony MS 1gb[/u]
Time (Seconds)	156.54			226.84		157.89		240.09
MB/Sec		6.11			4.22		6.06			3.99

Conclusion

8.5mb/sec is impressive, it shows that the drive is capable of handling large files extremely well, it would benefit users of higher resolution camera bodies, where larger files are involved. This also highlights that 8.5mb/s is pretty much the maximum for the PD70X, as the Sandisk 1gb Extreme III and normal 2gb give very similar times, the Extreme III is rated by the manufacturers to have a read speed of 20mb/s and the normal 2gb is only rated at 40x which I believe is only 6mb/s which it appears to blitz in this test.



Test 3
1gb of RAW Photos from CF to HD

I then formatted each memory card and copied 135 Canon RAW image files (4-8mb)(957mb total) into the normal Canon created paths on the cards.
I put the PD70X unit onto mains power, formatted the PD70X, and then inserted the first type of memory card, and timed it whilst it copied the files onto the PD70X harddrive.
I then repeated the procedure for each type of memory card.

Results

Code:
		[u]Sandisk XIII 1gb	Crucial 1gb	Sandisk 2gb	Sony MS 1gb[/u]
Time (Seconds)	118.93			187.34		120.21		209.81
MB/Sec		8.05			5.11		7.96			4.56
Conclusion

This is a more "real world" speed, for users of 6-8mp cameras who shoot in RAW, this is the section that matters. The Sandisk cards both show the unit off very well as 8mb/s is class leading. The ability to back up 1gb of photos in 2mins is fantastic for anyone who is into motorsport or in fact any other out-of-studio photography, where you need to be able to continually shoot and have limited storage or room to work. I know Id not like to lug a laptop around with me when shooting motorsport. Again the 2gb Sandisk exceeds its rating and is very close behind the Extreme III.


Test 4
2gb of RAW photos from CF to HD

As I only have 1x 2gb CF card I do this test for no real reason other then to complete the possiblities
I dumped 2 copies of the above used 1gb Canon RAW photos onto the 2gb Sandisk CF card and then again after freshly formatting the PD70X I copied the 2gb cards contents to the HD and timed it to completion. (1914mb / 170 files)

Results

Code:
		[u]Sandisk 2gb[/u]
Time (Seconds)	240.08
MB/Sec		7.97
Conclusion

Again, lightning fast, even off a normal 2gb card. The Sandisk 2gb has really impressed me here, 4 minutes to backup 2gb of photos is amazing.
 
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Test 5
1gb of RAW photos from CF to HD w/verify on

I noticed in the user manual that there is a "Verify" feature, this is probably more important with very very critical photos and users, so I decided to try the function out, I again started the same as before but formatting the PD70X, I used the 1gb Sandisk Extreme III CF card for the test that was already loaded with 957mb of Raw photos and I inserted the card into the unit, I powered the unit on and using the 3 function wheel I selected copy with verify, and again timed the process.

Results

Code:
		[u]1gb Sandisk Extreme III (Verify ON)[/u]
Time (Seconds)	376.06
MB/Sec		2.54
Conclusion

I personally doubt I will be using the Verify function, its less than half the speed of the normal copy and you could simply do 2 copies of the same card within the time it takes to do one and verify it.


Test 6
GB of successfully Transferred filesper set of batteries

This next test was the one that intertest me most tbh, I got the 1gb and 2gb Sandisk CF cards and loaded then up with Raw photos, I formatted the poor PD70X once again. I then got a freshly charged set of batteries and inserted them into the unit, then powered the unit on, and I copied the contents to the HD and once the "copy complete" icon appeared I turned the unit off, swapped the CF cards and then repeated this process unit the unit failed to copy the entire memory card. This I know could mean if I was using a 2gb card when the unit failed I may have managed an extra 1gb of information, but these are only a rough guide anyway. Once the unit failed I removed the batteries, and inspected the drive contents under mains power, I recorded the volume of completed copies and then formatted the drive and started again with the next set of batteries.

Results

Code:
		[I]1st Try		2nd Try		3rd Try[/I]
		Sanyo		Sanyo		Konnoc
		[u]2500mAh		2500 mAh	2500 mAh[/u]
Time (Seconds)	65.2GB		67.8GB		[color="red"]FAILED[/color]
Conclusion

WOW...... thats the first thought, the Sanyo 2500mAh have totally surpassed all expectation, the PD70X manufacturer quote 50gb per set of batteries, Ive seen conflicting information on several distribution sites that claim only 35gb/set, but to get 65gb+ from a single set of batteries is more then impressive, a few things to take into account however; this was in no way a field test, so I did this entire process over a couple of hours, therefore the natural battery drain didn`t occur, as these NiMH batteries self-discharge if left, also I was in a nice heated room through the entire process, out in the middle of a field it would be quite cold, or away on holiday it could be unbareably warm, temperature is know to have an effect on battery life, either way I`m impressed. The Konnocs failed, I will cover that more a little later, rest assured I doubt it is a PD70X fault more an incompatability issue.


Test 7
HD to PC USB2.0 speed

That was the last of the CF to HD tests that I have completed and now onto the HD to PC, which is probably quite pointless as it will possibly have a lot to do with the PC USB2.0 bus etc, more then the PD70X.

I mains powered the unit connected the included USB2 cable to my PC and the mini USB2 socket on the unit. I`ve seen other reviews were they point out that the power button is quite awkward to operate when the USB cable is connected, I didn`t find this and I`ve got quite short stumpy fingers. I powered the PD70X up and instantly it was recognised in Windows 2kpro (and I`d assume all other flavours) as L: drive in "My Computer" which told me I have too many HD, optical and memory card readers.... but hey it works. I browsed the directory and was pleased with the layout, it stores the copied files in directories based on the order you copy them on the unit, so I had 30+ directeries each containing an exact copy of the CF cards. This means no files are ever accidently overwritten, it also means if you put the same CF card in twice you end up with two copies of the info, wasting valuable HD space, but that`s for later.

I copied the 917mb and also the 1gb of Photos on the HD and then timed it copying them back to my HD, I copied them onto an empty 74gb Raptor drive to ensure there was little slow down caused by the PC.

Results

Code:
[b][I]HD-PC[/I][/B]		[u]917mb File	958mb RAW Photos[/u]
Time (Seconds)	105.45		118.71
MB/Sec		8.7		8.07
I went on to highlight the first 12 directories on the R: drive and it equalled 20gb, I copied those onto the Raptor and timed it.

Code:
[B][I]HD-PC[/I][/B]		[u]20gb of Files to PC[/u]
Time (Minutes)	40mins
MB/Sec		7.10
I then noticed the PD70X will work as a Card reader when attached to a PC, so I safely removed it from the PC, powered it off and inserted the 1gb Extreme III Cf card into the unit. I then re-attached the USB lead and powered the device on, again instantly it showed up in "My Computer" and this time as L: and M: drives, with M: being the CF card, the card had the 958mb of Raw photos on and I timed the copy of them to the Raptor.

Code:
[B][I]CF-PC[/I][/B]		[u]958mb RAW Photos to PC from CF[/u]
Time (Seconds)	169.35
MB/Sec		5.66

Conclusion

8mb/s from the PD70X onto the PC is

I was rather unimpressed with this, but, it like the "verify" feature are things I doubt I will ever use.
 
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Problems encountered

Now the only dodgy point of the whole review, Konnoc battery FAILURE...... when using the Konnoc batteries, again brand new, charged freshly then unit copied the 1st 1gb card fine, halfway thru the 2nd card (2gb) it stalled and stopped, the copy error symbol didnt appear, the drive just seemed to lock up, I let it sit like that for a minute or so, but the count just stopped. I switched the unit off and back on, it started again, and once again stopped at about 80% thru the copy this time. I got worried at this point, very worried in fact. I switched the drive off, switched the memory card back to the 1gb which had already successfully copied once and powered back up, it stalled after only 5 files, I switched the unit off and went to the toilet to cry, I`d only had the unit for 12hours and I`d managed to bugger it up already.... whilst on the throne of contemplation I thought about the batteries, I swapped them for another set of Sanyos and low and behold it worked perfectly again, I transferred both cards 5 times each just to be happy with it and then again switched back to the Konnocs, which again as expected failed, I removed these batteries and have checked they are charged fully, then left them in the charger over-night doing a full refresh cycle which fully drains and then fully charges them.... Tried them again this morning and only managed to copy 2 or 3 gb successfully before the unit failed again. These will now be used in a TV remote, as I don`t want them anywhere near my PD70X again.


Conclusion

I can honestly recommend the PD70X to anyone who is intending to do some serious photography, it allows you to carry around 120gb of storage and not have to carry a laptop or have access to mains power to quickly and easily backup the shots, the speed of the unit is acceptable for even the most demanding photographer, it allows you, if nessecary to be backing up the photos onto the drive whilst still shooting more and have the drive neatly strapped to your belt using the case provided. The AA batteries are a huge advantage as if you do happen to run out, you are simply able to pop into any convienance store worldwide and pickup a 4 pack of AA batteries and your off again.

Other reviews have commented on both the awkwardness of the buttons when a USB cable is attached and also problems with the battery cover, I find both of these issues to be non-issues. The switches are quite accessable and also the battery door is held closed at each side and you`d have to be quite heavy handed or accident prone to manage to break it.

I touched on the Card reader and Verify functions in the review, both of these seem quite pointless to me, im sure most if not all photographers already have a USB2.0 memory card reader and the PD70X ability wouldnt be a deciding issue when buying one, and as for the Verify option, I have checked all the files that were copied thoroug-out the entire testing procedure, including the incompleted CF copies due to both expected battery failure and also the unexpected Konnoc battery issues, and every single file on the PD70X was complete and not corrupted. So a verify option seems a little OTT to me, but as with this entire review its all my opinion and im happy to hear others opinions, findings and problems with their PD70X units.

Things I`ve not covered include the PD70X charging ability, the unit itself will act as a charger for the 4x AA batteries, I personally wanted to be able to charge more then one set at once when I first ordered, I expected to need to after a days shooting I`ve already got several Camera batteries to charge and in hotel rooms I always struggle to get everything charged for the next day. However, given the remarkable battery life, I doubt I would need to charge any for the entire weekend, if I take 2 sets that could allow up to possibly 120gb of backups, which is more than enough and would fill the unit in any case.

The in built browser is pathetic, it simply shows you the number of files and MB used within each directory, it doesn`t show file names or any other information, also accessing the information isn`t straight forwards either, but, again I doubt its something I will ever need to do, I will simply copy onto the unit and if the "Copy Completed" icon appears thats good enough for me.

A feature I personally would have liked to have seen would be, an autoformat option. I know that is rather dodgy, but, I would have liked the unit once finished copying the contents to its HD, to automatically format the CF card for immediate use. As in the field with 8 or 10 1gb and 2gb cards you may end up unsure which you have and haven`t backed up, and as there isnt a proper file browser on the PD70X, there is no way of checking.



Other Info

I`m still waiting for a response from Eastgear regarding the Konnoc battery issues I suffered from, I will update this information when I get that.

Also CompactDrive have a small amount of information on their website about a new product the MD80, this seems to have similar specs to the PD70X, it however includes MP3 and WMA playback, it also features a better backlit screen and looks quite a bit smaller and more Ipod like.

Done.... I hope you have found this review slightly useful and feel free to email me with any suggestions or questions which you feel I could add to it to make it more useful.
 
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I just ordered an identical model, the HD80 (hyperdrive), Its coming from B&H - I hope it arrives before i go to Canada :eek:
 
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I have one of these and would recommend them to anybody. I got mine from OneStopDigital, with a 40gig drive included.

My one little bit of advice to anybody who does get one is to be very wary of the included case (specifically, the quality of the belt loop). My unit took a dive down the concrete grandstand steps at Silverstone when the belt loop snapped! OneStop were very good in replacing the unit for me, but it stays firmly in my pocket now!

:)
 
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Both me and my brother have this PD70X and both of us suffered the drive locking up when extracting full 4Gb cards to it..:(

Fine with 1 and 2 Gb cards but the large 4Gb CF card just locked it up and corrupt the files which is very frustrating.:banghead:

Upgraded to the latest firmware and everything was working fine again..;)

Fingers crossed it has sorted it out because this drive is the fastest thing ever..:)
 
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I have the 100gb model and never tried any 4gb cards in it,but 1 and 2 gig cards with no probs at all,it is a super little thing and has served me well.:)
 
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I have the 100gb model and never tried any 4gb cards in it,but 1 and 2 gig cards with no probs at all,it is a super little thing and has served me well.:)

Never seen anything to touch it as yet, Still working fine which is good..:)
 
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