Review of HyperDrive Colorspace

For my recent trip to India I had to keep the size and weight of my backpack low, so instead of a laptop, I simply took a HyperDrive Colorspace with me. My backup strategy was:

  1. Have enough memory cards to simultaneously hold all my images from the entire trip.
  2. Every night backup each used card onto the HyperDrive.

I carried all cards in my photo bag and left the HyperDrive in my backpack at the hotel. My reasoning was that it’s extremely improbable that something bad would happen simultaneously to my camera bag and to my backpack. And I kept two copies of each card onto the HyperDrive because drive sectors do go bad from time to time, and “double holds better.” The HyperDrive was my insurance, and like all insurances, you virtually never need it, but it’s still good to have it. I imagine that for some of you making backups might sound like too much hassle while using only one backup drive might sound too optimistic to others. To me it felt just right.

Anyhow, how did the HyperDrive Colorspace perform? Well — it performed not too bad and not too great. I bought it sight unseen, based on the “highly recommended” verdict by Michael Reichmann and numerous other positive recommendations posted onto various Internet forums. Maybe due to all the positive feedback I had my expectations set too high, but I was quite disappointed with the speed, convenience and display quality of the HyperDrive Colorspace. It might be that it’s better than all other external drives out there, maybe even a lot better, but the Canon 30D has a much better and larger display and display layout, much better controls for scrolling through the images and it’s at least 15 times faster when scrolling through the images.

And there are some further issues with the HyperDrive Colorspace:

  • The power-on button is always active, so if you carry the unit in a bag or in your pocket, it could accidentally get turned on, which of course uses battery power.
  • The unit locked up twice in 28 backup sessions. Luckily I didn’t lose any data.
  • Instead of showing thumbnails of the images as they were being copied, the HyperDrive displayed “random noise” instead. This might be due to the fact that I shoot RAW without embedded JPGs, but it’s still annoying. This problem appears to have been solved with the newest firmware, V24-45-32.
  • After finishing the backup, I sometimes got conflicting messages. The status read “complete” while the time was shown as “15’08” (1 Sec. remaining)”. This too appears to have been solved with the newest firmware.
  • Using the function “Build Thumbnails” requires about 11 seconds for each RAW image from my Canon 30D. If you are viewing the images in a folder sequentially, it takes only about a second to change to the next image (which is still way too long).
  • The sales materials advertise that the HyperDrive will backup 1 GB per minute. Using full data verification my unit needs 6:23 for backing up 1 GB off a SanDisk Ultra II CF card.
  • The battery indicator is inconsistent. At one point it was alternating every few seconds between 70% (green battery) and 20% (red battery). It took me a while to realize that the 20% were showing when the hard drive was spinning and the 70% when it was at rest.
  • The commercials advertise that you can backup 120 GB on a single battery charge. Up to the point were I was getting the alternating 20%/70% battery status I’d backed up about 18 GB. I didn’t want to risk anything, so I charged the battery before continuing.
  • I am not able to get my personal background and icons to show up even though I think I’m following the instructions exactly.

In conclusion I’d say the following. If my camera had the capability to write onto two cards simultaneously, I’d probably just dump the HyperDrive and keep a set of cards in my photo bag and a set of backup-cards in the hotel. Furthermore, due to the slow operation and inconvenient controls, I used the HyperDrive simply as a hard drive and not as an image viewer, and for that kind of usage the unit is simply too expensive.

On the positive side, the user manual is written quite well.