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posted by - Wednesday, 01 April 2009

Western Digital Passport EliteThe hard drive is quickly becoming the most common deliverable for tapeless productions. This comes as both a convenience to some and a pain to others. Regardless of how you feel about P2, SxS, and other tapeless acquisition methods, they all eventually require transfer onto a hard drive. In the P2 world, you can download data with a laptop or with P2 devices such as the P2 Mobile (HPM110), P2 Gear (HPG10), or the new P2 Portable (HPG20). These devices offer the ability to transfer data from a P2 card directly onto an attached external hard drive. They call the transfer mode “Host” mode, because a hard drive is hosted by the device. Additionally in “USB Host” mode, the P2 devices will power a portable hard drive, which makes the whole setup very portable. This seems great on paper, but many of our clients found that their portable hard drives just wouldn’t power off their P2 device. So I did some testing and came to some simple conclusions that should help when buying a portable hard drive for a P2 Device.

Important Note: I only tested drives that draw power from a standard USB 2 port. Larger hard drives with AC power supplies were not included in this test. Some of the drives tested have optional AC inputs, but this was not tested either. I was looking for drives that worked completely off USB power.

What Doesn’t Work (usually):

Multi-Interface Mini Drives – G-Tech, Lacie Rugged, and other portable hard drives with multiple interfaces (USB and Firewire). These drives just seem to require too much power. Also hard drives that requires a USB split-power cable have problems as well. A split-power cable uses two USB ports to provide more power, but the P2 devices only have one port.

What Works:

USB only drives. That is, drives that only have a single USB connection.  I’ve tested Western Digital Passport, Toshiba External USB, and Imation External USB. All of these drives noted that they are USB-Powered.

The simple conclusion…if it says USB-Powered on the box, it should work. Otherwise you may be out of luck. Keep this in mind before your next P2 shoot.

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