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Caldigit HDPro

I`m a little skeptical, but let`s see how HDPro does the job By Kevin McAuliffe

Awhile back I was approached to take a look at Caldigit's HDPro storage solution. What exactly does that mean? Well, Caldigit has built a product for editors out there who work in HD (Uncompressed 8 & 10-bit) on a daily basis that is an alternative to a fibre channel solution. I'm a little skeptical, but let's see how HDPro does the job.

What you get
Normally, I start out with my installation section, but for the purposes of this review, I'm going to start by opening my big yellow and white HDPro box, to see what I have. The first thing I see when I open the box is that I have a PCI-e card, which for the HDPro is a major bonus. With most (if not all) fibre channel storage solutions, you find yourself stuck purchasing a F/C card, which will run you about $1,500 U.S. With the HDPro, you could put that $1500 toward the purchase of this unit. 

The PCI-e Card

Also with the PCI-e card is an installation disc, a power and connection cable, and a one page installation manual.  Next, I see four 320 Gb hard drives.

Hard Drive
After pulling out the styrofoam, I see my storage casing and another four 320GB hard drives.
The Storage Casing

So in total, here's what the HDPro shipped with:

1x PCI-e adapter card
1x Installation disc
1x Installation page
1x Power cable
1x Connection cable (PCI-e card to Disk Array)
1x Storage casing
8x 320GB hard drives

Looks like I'm all set. I really like the fact that Caldigit includes everything you could need, including the PCI-e card, to get you up and running. I'm a little worried about my one page (but printed on both sides mind you) instruction manual, but let's see how the installation goes. What You Get: 9 (out of 10)

I'm probably the perfect person to do the installation and hook up of the HDPro, as I have never had to set up a disc array before, and needless to say, I wasn't overly confident in the one page (double sided, mind you) installation sheet, but let's go.

First, installing the drives into the chassis was relatively straightforward. There were a couple of drives where I found it difficult to pull the locking handle out, and a couple of times they popped off, but with a little elbow grease, I got them out, and got all eight drives loaded. (NOTE: I'm putting this note in after my review is complete, as I realized that when I was removing the drives from the chassis (after the review period was over), that there is a pin sized hole beside the handle of the drive to push a pin or the end of a paper clip into, to get the drive handle to pop out. This would have been EXTREMELY handy to have put on the one page instruction manual) 

The Storage Casing with one drive installed
Next, the installation of the PCI-e card was relatively straightforward, as I've installed cards into my computer before, and connecting the PCI-e and power cables were quick and simple. Last but not least, I fired up the HDPro, and turned on my computer, installed the "RAID SHIELD" application and the drives for the PCI-e card. Since the unit already comes Mac formatted for Raid 5, I should be ready to go. All in all, it took about half an hour to get all the drives installed and the software on the machine. Could it really be that simple? We're about to find out! Installation: 8 (out of 10)

How it performed
Here's where I started to think that this could not be as easy as it's been thus far. So, upon launching Final Cut Pro, I made sure I went into my user settings and clicked on "ABORT CAPTURE ON DROPPED FRAMES", as I wanted to make sure that at the slightest hint of a problem, I would know it. 

Also, I figured that I wouldn't bother starting with DV quality footage, and work my way up to SD 8-bit uncompressed, and so on.  I had just offlined a project in SD that needed to be finished in 1080i 8-bit Uncompressed HD (lots of clips, supers, etc), so this would be the best test. Well, let me say, I was pretty impressed. Once I started digitizing, I had no dropped frames, not even once. Once I had my show recaptured, and all my graphics rendered, my playback was smooth and hiccup free. I used the HDPro for a week for various projects I was working on, and never once did I have an issue with frames dropping. I mostly work in 1080i 8-bit Uncompressed (which, when the HDPro was empty, gave me about 4.5 hours of storage space), so I figured I'd digitize and work with some footage in 1080i 10-bit and 720p 10-bit to see if I could get the HDPro to drop some frames, and to my surprise, I didn't have one problem, and not one hiccup. This unit slid into my production work flow seamlessly, and if you didn't tell me that I was using a PCI-e connection instead of fibre, I would never have known it. How It Performed: 10 (out of 10)

Included software
I wanted to put a section into this review on the software that comes with the HDPro. The application is called RAID Shield, and this little program will be your new best friend. It's very easy to use (even for beginners), and gives you access to all the information you will need to manage your drives. 

From the configuration to the creation and deletion of arrays to the temperature of the unit, RAID Shield is a straightforward and simple application that will be up and running in no time.

Even though the unit came configured for me, I wanted to see how easy it would be to create a new array, and needless to say, with a few button clicks, it took about a minute for me to have the drives reconfiguring my new array. 

The only thing that new users might find daunting is all the new terminology that they will start encountering (RAID, JBOD, Mirroring, etc), but a quick trip over to Wikipedia will iron out any confusion you might have. I really liked RAID Shield, and I think it's a great application to control your HDPro. Included Software: 9 (out of 10)

Quick setup will have you up and running in no time.
RAID Shield application is very easy to use.
Very reasonable price(s) (2TB Solution for approx $4000 US).
Spare drives (in case of failure) are priced reasonably (around $200 U.S. for 320GB drive).

Drive locking arms a little too flimsy.
Reconfiguring the RAID array takes a while (1.5 - 2 hours).
Rack Mount version extra cost

Final Total: 9 (out of 10)

Purchase Recommendation: Absolute Buy
I was apprehensive before I did this review, as I was always under the impression that for uncompressed HD, fibre was the only way to go, but after using the HDPro from Caldigit, just give me my HD capture card, and my HDPro, and I'll be all set to do my HD onlines without a worry in the world.  For more information on the HDPro, and it's different configurations, head over to

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Kevin P McAuliffe is currently a Senior Video Editor working in HD post production in Toronto, Canada. He has been in the television industry for 12 years, and spends his days onlining on a Final Cut Pro HD. Kevin's high definition onlining credit list includes concerts for Coldplay, Sarah McLachlan, Barenaked Ladies, Snow Patrol, Sum41, Paul Anka, Il Divo and Pussycat Dolls, to name a few. Also, Kevin is an instructor of Advanced Final Cut Studio 2 at the Toronto Film College. If you have any questions or comments, you can drop him a line at [email protected]

Related Keywords:RAID, Caldigit HDPro, video storage, video editing

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