Well… where to start? This isn’t going to be a huge long review as this isn’t a complicated device, but that is exactly what you want for backing up in the field. The NextoDi NVS2500 is really simple to use, very fast and well though out.
So what exactly is it?
It’s a small one piece box that allows you to back up most forms of media to an internal hard drive. It has it’s own internal rechargable battery, a small LCD screen and 2 controls. A power button on the side and a thumbstick on the front. It’s made from a very tough looking plastic and is supplied with rubber boots that go on the top and bottom to protect it from the knocks and bumps it is almost certain to receive out on location. On the top there are slots for Compact Flash, SD cards and Memory sticks while on the side there is an express card slot. It’s this express card slot that makes it different to most of the other backup devices on the market as this will accept Sony SxS cards from the EX cameras as well as a supplied adaptor for Panasonic P2 cards. On the bottom of the device there is a standard mini USB port, a combined Esata/USB port and a Firewire 400 port. In addition there is a power socket for external power and charging. The unit is supplied with a charger plus a cigarette lighter adapter and a small battery box that takes 4x AA batteries.
The NVS2500 arrived on the morning of a shoot, so I just threw it in my kit bag and went off on the shoot. At the end of the day I had several full 8Gb and 16Gb SxS cards, so it was the ideal opportunity to test it out. In the past I have used a small Netbook PC with a USB drive to backup my footage on location. This has worked well, but it’s a little awkward as you have both the computer and a drive attached by a cable to deal with. So before I started to pack away my gear I dug out the 2500, turned it on by pressing the button on the side. After a couple of seconds the device was ready so I popped a 16Gb SxS card into it the side. The NVS2500 checks the card and then asks you if you want to back it up. A short press of the thumbstick starts the card backup, it’s as simple as that!
Now when I used to use the laptop and USB drive I would at this stage continue packing up my kit, go and have a coffee or start the journey home as each 16Gb card would take about 12 minutes to backup. As I watched the copy bar graph on the NVS2500 however I realized that I wasn’t going to get much kit packed before I would need to swap cards. This thing is fast, seriously fast. My full 16Gb card took less than 4 minutes to backup! How did I ever put up with the backup speeds of my laptop? I can now backup my footage at over 10x real time.
So what about file verification? Well you need to be sure that your backups are good. There are several ways to do this with the NextoDi. One way is to use the preview function of the NextoDi to play back your clips, that’s right, it can playback footage that has been backed up. It can play XDCAM EX as well as many other formats including Convergent Design NanoFlash files, HDV and most Panasonic DVCPRO and AVC files. AVCHD playback should be coming via a firmware update as well. Admittedly the screen is small and a little dark, and the playback is a bit jumpy but for checking that the backup is good it is perfectly acceptable. Another way to verify your backup is to re-insert the original card. The NextoDi box will automatically tell you that you have already backed up the card (assuming of course that you have) and then give you the option to do a partial or full backup verification. All clever stuff!
So what else can it do?
If you plug a USB drive in to the Esata/USB host port on the bottom of the unit you can copy backups from the NextoDi to the USB drive using the Sync function. It should be noted that the USB drive must be FAT32 formatted. You can also make simultaneous backup copies to both the NextoDi and the USB drive. These functions are great for creating double backups, either to hand off to a client or for extra security. The only down side is that the copy speed is restricted by the USB interface so using this mode I was back to similar speeds as my old laptop backup system. However the NVS2500 is a lot more portable than a laptop and it’s simpler to use. Trying to create folders and copy files while bouncing down a road in a car with a laptop on your lap is frustratingly hard to do. With the NVS2500 it’s simply a matter of pluging in the USB drive and then pressing the little thumbstick to start the sync process. One small point to note is that if you are using an external drive you must provide the NVS2500 with an external power source. The cigarette lighter adapter works well in a car, but if your out in the field you can use the supplied AA battery box.
Back at base:
Once back in the edit suite there are no surprises. It’s just as simple to use here too. If you have an Esata port on your computer you can plug the device in via that for ultra fast transfers. If you don’t have Esata then you can connect via USB or Firewire, while not as fast you still have full access to all the backups on the device. Each backup is stored in it’s own folder with the time and date of the clips it contains, which is an excellent way of naming folders, helping you find footage easily in the future.
Well I have to say the NVS2500 has really impressed me and everyone that has seen it. Especially when they see how fast transfers from SxS cards are. My backup laptop is now sitting in a corner in the office gathering dust. I just love the fact that I can pop the 2500 in a rucksack or even a large pocket and I really can do a quick backup just about anywhere with the very minimum of fuss. I really don’t know how I managed without one. It will be coming with me to the Arctic in January so I’ll be able to see how it deals with the cold. The NextoDi NVS2500 gets 9/10 from me. If the LCD was bigger and playback smoother then it would be 10/10, but all in all an excellent device that has been given the nickname “the magic box”.