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Hyperdrive Space

Intro: This is one of those things that becomes necessary on long trips or when shooting lots and lots of pictures. The Hyperdrive Space is essentially a storage case for a laptop hard drive. The outer case has the ability to connect to 18 different types of memory cards without the need for an external power supply or a computer. Out of all the photo backup devices I have seen and tried, this one stands out in it's simplicity.

Details: The case contains a high capacity Lithium-ion battery which is rated for 100gb worth of data download. The rate of this backup happens at an astonishing 20mb/s. This equates to a gigabyte of photos in about 50 seconds. The next fastest that I was able to find was the Epson P-5000 which takes 155 seconds to transfer 1 gigabyte of photos, though I have seen it go as high as 3 minutes for the same amount of data. I would assume that varied photo size and the fragmentation of the internal drive cause these slowdowns..

The Hyperdrive can copy around 100gb of data before you start running out of battery life, the Epson can do around 26. This varies slightly with file sizes.

The great ability of the Hyperdrive is the fact that it will not become obsolete as time goes on. If you desire more storage space, just put in a bigger hard drive. The Li-ion battery and hard drive are easily replaceable. At the time of writing this the largest 2.5" laptop hard drive is 160gb. This equals just over 9900 16mb uncompressed NEF files from the Nikon D200. Pretty good even for a very, very long trip. Even better is the fact that it can do this on one and a half charge.

The case is made out of sleek black aluminium, and is very small, measuring only 12.7 x 7.3 x 2.0 cm. The strong case protects the hard drive from shocks and dissipates any heat generated during file copying.

The Hyperdrive can be connected to a computer to transfer files back and forth at USB 2.0 speeds. It also supports multiple partitions and hard drive capacity beyond 160gb.

The Hyperdrive can be recharged via USB, AC adapter, car adapter, or an external battery pack using 4 AA batteries or a Li-Ion cell.

Use: Fast. Easy. That pretty much sums it up. Slip in the card, unit powers up, hit a button and off you go. The unit has a copy verification feature with different selectable speeds. A 1gb card copies and quick verifies in 1 minute. Corrupted memory sectors are skipped as they occur, either on the memory card or hard drive. All backups are time stamped so you can see when they were made. The unit is intelligent enough to be able to use even fragmented space which other units have problems with.

The file transfers are within a couple seconds of the specifications and the small amount of heat is easily dissipated by the case.

Some people advise against using a moving hard drive as a storage unit, but it's no different from a laptop drive. Just make sure you buy a good quality drive and you should be ok. I use Hitachi drives and have had no problems with them. All modern hard drives have sensors that park the head when the drive is not in use, making it safe to transport. To be on the safe side I would keep the unit still while copying, but I've done some backing up while walking with no problems.

Keep in mind that this is basically a photo dump drive. You can browse folders, rename them, format the memory card, check firmware, format hard drive, and check remaining space. You cannot browse your images. A device that lets you browse your pictures is usually a lot more expensive (the Epson P-5000 is $850 vs. the Hyperdrive at $150) and the battery life is much worse. If you are really worried about a hard drive failure you can always use 2 units for redundancy, though in my opinion it is not needed. Keep in mind that whatever backup solution you choose, it will have a moving hard drive, whether it's a laptop or a portable storage device. Portable DVD burners that let you copy a memory card to a DVD exist, but they are slow (roughly 30 minutes for a 4gb card to burn and verify) and expensive, not to mention hard to find.


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