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posted by - Thursday, 26 February 2009

p2wranglerA few months ago, we were introduced to a company called 1Beyond. They have been creating custom editing machines and storage systems for a while, and now they have taken aim at the P2 market with the P2 Wrangler. If you’ve been keeping up with the latest Panasonic products you may have read about the P2 Rapid Writer, which is a fast download box with a built-in hard drive RAID and five P2 card slots. The P2 Wrangler Portable is the same idea but at a reduced cost and with greatly expanded possibilities.

Looking at the Wrangler Portable you might think it’s a laptop computer from 1985, but it’s in fact a high-tech piece of gear with a lot of function that you normally only find on a desktop machine. On the left side you’ll find four P2 Card slots, various connectors (USB, firewire, and VGA), and an LCD displaying battery life. On the right side is a DVD-RW drive and two removable drives. These drives are called GoHDCart disks which are hot-swappable, shock resistant drives and 320GB each. The front cover folds down to reveal a 15″ LCD and a full keyboard with trackpad.

p2wranglerinsetThis is a portable system, and two laptop batteries are included. Push in the power button and you’ll be greeted with a familiar image – the Windows XP logo… OK DON’T STOP READING. I know it’s Windows, but wait it does get better, I promise. So Windows loads up quickly (it has an internal solid-state drive so it moves fast) and then before you know it the screen is filled with two new windows. On the left you’ll find the P2 Wrangle software and on the right you’ll see the P2 Viewer software from Panasonic. The Wrangler software has 6 meters on it. One for each P2 Card slot and one for each hard drive.

Ok, so now for the fun part. You insert some P2 Cards and it starts downloading right away, and it does it fast.. real fast. It can copy all four at the same time right onto the two removable drives. The data is written to the two drives very quickly and then a verification process begins. After the verification is complete the card is marked as done and the Wrangler software lets you know it is ready to eject. The whole process is color coded and easy to follow. The system is completely foolproof, which is an amazing thing when it comes to P2. Once the footage is in the system it will immediately appear in the P2 Viewer window. There you can play it back on the LCD screen, edit your P2 MetaData, delete clips, and enter log notes. This is a Windows machine so you could also start editing right away on PC editing software like Adobe Premiere.

Here are the download rates that I achieved:

- 1 x 16 Gig P2 Card (before verification): 5:29 Minutes
– 1 x 16 Gig P2 Card (with verification): 10:02 Minutes
– 4 x 16 Gig P2 Cards (before verification): 23:53 Minutes
– 4 x 16 Gig P2 Cards (with verification): 36:21 Minutes

Right now, many of our clients will take a laptop, card reader, and external RAID 1 hard drive into the field. This is a popular work flow, but has two big downfalls: A RAID 1 needs AC power, and card readers are often slow and unreliable. The P2 Wrangler Portable combines all of these into one working system. Just one box is all you need for P2 downloading and backup. And it all runs on battery power.

wranglerreader1The GoHDCart disks each have eSata connection on the back for quick transfer into your editing system – a USB to eSata cable is available if you don’t have an eSata connection. Additionally, drives can be put into the 1Beyond Wrangler Reader-4, which has slots for 4 GoHDCart cartridges.

I really like the P2 Wrangler Portable. It is an all-in-one solution that can simplify any P2 workflow. We will soon have it on the showroom floor in New York and Burbank, so come check it out when you have a chance.

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