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ProAvio S4UF & EB4UF Hard Drive Enclosures

By Kevin McAuliffe

As the expression goes, bigger is better. In most cases, that is correct, but not necessarily when it comes to choosing a hard drive to edit your (compressed) HD media on. We, the users, want to make sure that we not only get the biggest drive, but also the one that gives us the best performance. I decided to do this review combining two products from ProAvio, as they are essentially the same unit, just in a different configuration. The S4UF rack mountable hard drive enclosure and the EB4UF desk top enclosure. Let's check them out! 
Size of the units versus cost of shipping
I have been a "Lacie Guy" for a while, and I'm accustomed to having my hard drives come in a small, compact box that I can easily throw under my arm and walk out of the store with. Needless to say, I was a little surprised at the size of the boxes when the two units arrived.

At the end of the day they could come in boxes twice the size, but what's important to remember is that unless you work for a big company that is going to cover the cost of shipping, make sure you find a reseller close to you so that you can pick either of them up yourself. Oh, and by the way, the shoe in the picture was intentional, as I wanted to make sure the scale was represented accordingly (I wear a size 13!).
What you get 
The S4UF ships with no hard drives, but ProAvio does include modules for you to mount your own drives in. Seagate is ProAvio's "Partner of Choice" which I assume means that Seagate has certified its drives to work with the unit, so keep that in mind when purchasing your hard drives.

Here's a look at what you can expect when you open the box.

  • 1x Pro Avio S4UF Rack or Desktop Storage Array (capacities include 500GB/750GB/1.0TB) 
  • 1x External FW800 Cable
  • 1x External FW400 Cable
  • 1x FireWire HDD 800 Link Cable
  • 1x External USB2.0 Cable
  • 1x Rack/Desktop Conversion Kit
  • 4x removable disk drive modules


  • 1x Pro Avio EB4UF-Desktop Storage Array (FW800, FW400, USB2) (1, 2 or 4 TB Configurations - Drives included)
  • 1x External FW800 Cable
  • 1x External FW400 Cable
  • 1x FireWire 800 HDD Link Cable
  • 1x External USB2.0 Cable

I can easily see two very different scenarios for both of these units. The S4UF is a great unit for the home user. FW800 is excellent for compressed HD editing (Pro Res, DVCPro HD, etc), and the unit can sit comfortably on the desktop beside you. Since the EB4UF is a rack-mountable storage solution, you could really get creative with it in post facilities (or home edit facilities for that matter) that have a central equipment room. Depending on your configuration, you could easily slide one of these units into your rack just above, below or beside your edit station for quick and easy access, as the unit itself is only one rack unit high (1U). You could also get a little more creative, and build a "storage rack," and have multiple units going to multiple edit stations, assuming all your CPUs are within a close distance of the rack. You are only limited by cable distance with this configuration. In the end, you really could use either unit in either scenario. 
 The setup
To get a real idea of the two units, you can take a look at them beside my 20" iMac in the above photos.
The EB4UF is a nice, small unit that would easily fit into anyone's home office or small post house. I currently do all my editing with two Lacie 2TB hard drives, and together they are almost the same size as the EB4UF. Installing hard drives into the chassis is quick and easy and should take you no longer than about 15 minutes.

The S4UF on the other hand is a bit bulky in a home editing situation, but would be ideal in a small office or post production environment. Installing hard drives into the S4UF's modules might take a little longer, but will still be quick and easy.
The EB4UF also has the ability to lock the drives into place which is always a good thing if you plan to take the unit on the go with you. Also, I have to say that ProAvio has shipped the most durable FW400 & FW 800 (6ft long) cables that I have ever seen. Take a look at the cable difference between Lacie's FW800 cable, ProAvio's FW800 cable and my mouse cable.

The FW400 cable is the same as the FW800. Nice! Another thing to keep in mind is that you will need to attach the FW800 bridge cable that comes with the unit if you want all four drives to appear on your desktop.

Both units come equipped with a fan, which are very quiet, and since I work with headphones on my edit system, I wouldn't even know either unit is there but even without headphones, after about ten minutes of editing, the sound would become unnoticeable.  Once you turn the unit(s) on, the drives (as expected) will immediately appear on your desktop.

Now, depending on your workflow, you might not want to work with the drives as four individual units, you might want to stripe them together and work with them as one unit. No problem. Just jump into the Mac Disk Utility, and create a Striped RAID Set, and you can then have all your drives working together as one.

Personally, I would rather have them as four separate drives, so if one fails, you don't lose everything. Overall, both of these units are excellent. If I could fix one thing, it would be to build the FW800 bridge cable into the unit. I did some editing with both Pro Res and DVCProHD (both 1080i), and the units worked like a charm!
As I mentioned before, the EB4UF is perfect for the home or individual user who needs a great portable HDD solution. The S4UF, on the other hand, is great for a post production facility scenario, as it can easily be mounted into a rack with the included rack mount kit.

I really liked both units and can easily recommend both of them. Just make sure you pick the one that best suits your editing scenario.

  • Setup of both units is quick and easy
  • Extremely quiet fan(s)
  • You will be editing Pro Res or DVCPro HD with no problems
  • Rack Mount kit comes with the S4UF
  • Thick, durable FW800/400


  • Strange that they wouldn't work the FW Bridge cable into the unit(s)

Purchase Recommendation : Go for the EB4UF for home office and the S4UF for a post facility! 
If you are editing in compressed HD in your home, small business or post production facility, and are looking for an external storage solution for your media, ProAvio's EB4UF and S4UF units are definitely something you should consider. I liked the S4UF rack mountable drive so much, I'm considering building a rack in my home office to accommodate one (or five!). For more information on the EB4UF or the S4UF, or to check out their specs, head on 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

Related Keywords:storage, video editing, editing workflow, FireWire 400, FireWire 800

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