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Review: Grass Valley REV Pro

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As an acquisition, editing, and playback format, this newest Iomega mass-storage cartridge has potential, and Grass Valley has done a fine job augmenting Iomega’s product with its own brand of video hardware expertise. The drive and media both performed well; they have a sturdy, rugged feel, and, for an external device, the REV Pro is quiet during operation.

Grass Valley REV Pro

Price: $479.95 internal; $499.95 external

Iomega built, then almost lost, and has recently regained a reputation for creating innovative cartridge-based storage devices. From the early days of the 44MB Bernoulli disks to the Zip and Jaz, Iomega pushed the envelope of portable storage throughout the last two decades of the 20th century.

Its most recent entry into the portable mass storage market is the REV Pro, a cartridge that is slightly smaller than the Jaz and holds over 16 times the information. This new hard-drive-in-a-cartridge tops out at 35GB.

When Iomega first attempted to market the Jaz as a viable video editing or playback device, doing so required a two- or four-disk striped array. With the REV Pro, however, a single disk is sufficient to capture both standard-definition (SD) and several flavors of high-definition (HD) video.

For our review, we tested an external REV Pro drive that is sold by Grass Valley, which has long been recognized as a company whose products are synonymous with broadcasting excellence. The device is slightly larger than a paperback novel, and is connected to a Macintosh or Windows computer via USB 2.0 (a FireWire model is also available). Our particular test device also required external power, as the USB port was not capable of meeting power consumption requirements for the sustained hard drive reads and writes that make up video capture and playback.

Setup and Formatting
Setup was fairly straightforward. Like earlier Iomega-based products, there were software tools that had to be installed before using the REV Pro drive. The tools are available both on the cartridge—for use at a later date— as well as on an accompanying CD. Once the software was installed, however, everything worked seamlessly for mounting and formatting the drive cartridge.

Though the REV Pro cartridge is listed as having a capacity of 35GB, Grass Valley takes a slightly different approach to sizing, noting the number of minutes of SD or HD content—in a variety of formats and bit rates—that can be stored on the media. This is particularly helpful for the editor or camera operator (if these cartridges find their way into cameras or VTRs), who is generally better-versed in video technology than computer technology and who cares more about the amount of time remaining on the cartridge than the number of gigabytes.

The topic of cameras and the potential use of REV Pro cartridges for field acquisition is a timely one, as companies such as Focus Enhancements—with its FireStore product line—have made significant inroads into the direct-to-disk camera recording market. REV Pro cartridges are smaller than the 2.5" FireStore drives and have equivalent throughput specifications, but require an additional drive where FireStore contains a built-in FireWire port that is used to connect to both the camera and the editing system computer.

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