NEXTO DI Video Storage Pro NVS2500
The NEXTO DI NVS 2500 is a stand alone backup / archiving system for digital media cards. At it’s heart lies a 500GB 2.5 inch drive which has been wrapped in card readers, a rechargeable battery, a colour display and a whole host of communication ports. It’s all packaged up in a compact rugged case that’s built to withstand the day – day rigours of a video professional.
What’s in the box
Upon opening the box your presented with the device itself along with an array of accessories comprised of AA Battery pack, Express card – P2 adapter, Rubber boots, 12v car adapter, Firewire 400 lead, Esata lead, USB lead, And a user manual.
The NVS2500 itself feels very sturdy in the hand, I think it’s made of a very strong plastic but I struggled to tell if it was plastic or metal. This rugged feel is aided by the included rubber boots which fit at each end of the unit. According to NEXTO the NVS2500 includes an internal free fall sensor and contains a non-elastic shock protection material, whatever that is? This all apparently helps prevent damage to the drive due to physical shock.
In terms of controls the device is incredibly simple, it has a toggle / joystick button and a power button – that’s it! Planted on the front is a 2.4 inch colour LCD which is recessed enough to stop it getting damaged too easily.
Along the top are two memory card input slots behind an annoyingly hard to open rubber weather seal. Once you manage to get past the seal you discover a compact flash slot and a 3 in 1 type slot that takes SD, SDHC, MMC, MMCPlus, Memory Stick, Memory Stick Pro – HG & Memory Stick Pro – MagicGate.
The left side of the unit houses the SxS slot (ExpressCard) which also doubles up as an input for the P2 card adapter supplied with the unit.
The bottom of the unit contains a power input, Firewire port, E-SATA / USB combo port and a USB port along with a tiny reset button.
The back of the unit has a threaded mounting socket that allows the device to be attached to a stand or other mounting system if required.
With only two buttons the UI is pretty simple, although I found it slightly unintuitive to begin with. The main control button is a four way joystick and a button that can be depressed. As you would expect you can navigate up and down menu’s by pressing it up and down. When you want to enter a menu item you press the button.
Where it gets a little bit weird is that to go back to the previous menu you have to press either of the two buttons and hold them. I struggled with this for a while because if you enter say the ‘delete’ page and the only options in the menu are delete or return to previous menu it feels a bit scary using the same button for both. If you do accidentally enter the delete function though it’s not as dangerous as it sounds because you then have to go through a two stage verification process involving up and down movements of the mini-joystick.
Talking of deleting you do have the option of deleting folders. Each folder relates to the backup of an entire card. You can’t however delete anything inside each card, which is a good thing because deleting an item inside say a BPAV folder from an SxS card could cause a lot of problems when it comes to getting the footage off of the device.
In it’s simplest use the device detects any media cards you connect to it and asks if you would like to copy them using a function it calls x-copy. With a single click of the control button it then copies everything on your card to it’s internal hard drive.
Every time you insert another card it creates a new folder on the root of it’s drive and copies the contents of the card into it which makes sure that everything stays nicely organised.
The NVS does a lot more than just copy your cards though.
After copying Sony XDCAM-EX files you’re able to use the preview function to navigate through the backup folders and then display a list of thumbnails of any video clips contained inside each folder. You can even play back the individual clips, although don’t expect too much from this as they are extremely low res and play back at either 1/2 speed, 3x or 16x.
If you re-insert a card that has already been copied to the NVS it will ask you if you would like to verify your data, you can perform either a full verify which takes as long as the initial copy, or a sample verify which checks a random selection of files against the card and is a lot lot faster to perform.
With the 1.10 firmware you can also choose to do an automatic verify after the copy function has completed. This is great if you want to shove a big card into the device and then leave it to do it’s work. Once complete the device will power down automatically so it won’t waste any juice. Next time you boot it up you’ll be prompted with a screen telling you that your backup was completed and that the data was verified, hopefully anyway!
Another useful function is multicopy, or M-COPY. What this allows you to do copy your media cards to both the NVS and an external USB drive at the same time. This is handy if you want to offload a card in the field and have one copy for yourself on the NVS and another for your client to take with them.
M-Copy does have a few downsides though. Firstly you need to connect up the USB drive and in some cases power it up too using an external power supply. There are some drives which do not require power when connected to a laptop such as my Lacie Rugged drives, but these will in fact need external power to be used with the NVS 2500. There are however some drives that will work without external power, see Nexto’s website for more details.
The other downside to M-copy is that it slows down the copy to the speed of the USB drive. This doesn’t make a massive difference with compact flash or SD cards, but it reduces offload speeds of SxS cards a lot. I’ll talk more about offload speeds in a moment.
The sync feature of the NVS2500 is something that appeals to me a lot and fits in perfectly with my normal workflow. What it allows you to do is connect an external USB drive and copy the contents of the NVS over to the USB drive. Anytime you run the sync function after that the NVS compares it’s internal drive to the USB drive that’s attached and copies over anything that’s been added since the last sync.
This is exactly what I do when using my macbook pro, I always copy my footage to external drives just in case the mac should fail. Doing this on the mac requires a certain amount of planning and a good folder naming system, on the NVS though it’s a piece of cake because it does it all for you.
I remember once last year whilst shooting a Harley-Davidson event I had to walk back to my hire car and offload 70 GB of footage to the macbook pro ready to shoot a custom bike show in the afternoon. The footage was spread over four SxS cards and I sat in the car for over an hour whilst the footage offloaded. During this time the battery on my mac was getting lower and lower and I remember feeling quite helpless. I also missed one of the bands that were playing at the event which I would have liked to have filmed.
With the NVS2500 power should never be a problem. Firstly it has an internal rechargeable battery, so far this has always been sufficient for my usage but should that run flat you can power it using a 12v cigarette adapter in a car, or via the supplied AA battery pack.
Nexto also supply a really handy adapter made my Dolgin that powers the NVS2500 using Sony BPU batteries. You can also power a USB hard drive with this adapter if you need to do a sync or m-copy in the field. One thing worth noting is that the two connecting wires that come out of the BPU adapter have different voltages but are the same connector type. They are clearly marked with tape but if you make the mistake of plugging the 12V wire into your 5V USB drive you’ll probably fry the circuits…. be careful!
If you’re the type of shooter who likes to rotate SxS cards in the field then you’re going to love the NVS2500. Personally I prefer not to wipe cards in the field but sometimes you have no choice and when you do need to do it you usually need it to happen quickly.
The NVS copies data from SxS cards at over 80MB a second. To put that into perspective you’ll be looking at around 90 seconds to copy an 8GB card, 3 minutes for 16GB and 6 minutes for a 32GB card. Running a copy and verify will double those times, but it you should easily be able to get them done before needing to swap cards again.
I don’t have any P2 cards so I can’t testify to the speed of those but because they use the same port I would have thought you’re likely to see similar throughput – not really sure.
Compact Flash cards are slower, I tested a Sandisk 32GB UDMA card (400x rated at 60MB/S) and it copied at an average of 35MB a second, so less than half the speed of an SxS but still usable. I’ve also offloaded an SDHC card from my Zoom h4n and again the speed is slower, but still very practical and usable.
Back at base
When you get back to your editing suite the NVS2500 can be connected to your computer using either USB2, Firewire400 or Esata, with the later obviously being the fastest.
The device appears just like any other external drive and you simple copy your data off it in the same way you would any other drive or media card. I’m sure you could even edit directly form the NVS2500 should you wish to do so.
Price & Practicality
The NVS2500 retails for around £1400 if purchased in the UK or Europe ( Click here for a list of retailers ) and around $2000 in the US from B&H Photo Video. This put’s it in a similar price bracket to some pretty high end netbooks and laptops. You can even get some laptops that have ExpressCard slots that allow SxS offloading, and to be fair you could add a combo card reader easily and be able to do everything the NVS does and more, albeit with less speed and more cables.
Do you feel comfortable putting a laptop in your walk around kit bag though? I know I don’t with my MacBook Pro, but then it’s a 17″ model and not at all practical in the field. You’ve also got power to think about, what happens if your laptop goes flat and you’re nowhere near a mains outlet?
If you have a practical answer to these questions then a laptop might just be a more cost effective option, but for me the NVS is way more practical. It can be thrown in my kit bag, it can be powered by my Sony batteries or a car adapter if necessary and most importantly it does it’s job without me having to think too hard about it. Anyone who regularly offloads media cards on location knows how nerve wrecking that job can be, the NVS makes life a lot less stressful.
It’s definitely priced for Pro’s, but it’s a pro tool and works well.
If you’re looking for cheaper options Nexto also make other lower specced models that retail for a lot less.
As you can probably tell I really like the NVS2500. Being priced at £1400 does put it in competition with netbooks and laptops so you have to make the call between the advantages that both solutions give you.
A laptop has a nice big screen, can do a lot of other jobs, has audio and with the right software and hardware can do all the things the NVS does. On the other hand the NVS2500 is faster, has a wide range of power options, makes offloading a lot easier and is designed for life in the field.
Personally I want both, there’s times where I’m going to take just the NVS2500. For example when I ride to St Tropez filming a harley documentary – there’s no way I’m taking my MacBook on a bike! And for the times when I do want to take my MacBook and be able to show the client shots on location I’ll be taking the NVS as well for backups in the field and double security.
I’m sure there’s a lot I haven’t covered so if you have any questions please just leave a comment and I’ll answer them all to the best of my knowledge.
For more information about the NVS2500 or other Nexto DI products visit http://www.nextodi.co.uk
To find a list of UK & European retailers visit http://www.nextodi.co.uk/wheretobuy.html
To purchase the NVS2500 in the US visit B&H Photo Video