OWC’s portable drive, the Envoy Pro, originally came in a USB 3 version, but with the push for ever higher throughput speeds required for 4K, HDR and 8K video shooting and streaming, the company has introduced another, new 300g lightweight Envoy Pro EX that’s been equipped with a captive Thunderbolt 3 cable. The Thunderbolt 3 Envoy Pro EX actually is a series of devices, all equipped with Thunderbolt 3, but split up in the Envoy Pro EX series and the Envoy Pro EX (VE) series, which is even faster and has bigger capacities.
All-in-one computers like the iMac – even the iMac Pro – rarely have enough ports to satisfy our needs. CalDigit’s small-footprint, cast-aluminium Thunderbolt Station 3 Plus is – what we usually call – a dock that adds a whopping 15 ports to any Thunderbolt 3 machine. The options go beyond the conventional, expanding connectivity as well as charge laptops.
The newest SSD Crucial recently released has Micron’s new 64-layer NAND memory and is the first high-speed SSD to leave the factory since the Lexar brand was sold. The MX500, as it’s called, is in some tests the fastest SSD currently available. It’s so fast that it suffers from the performance limitations of its form factor, which is a 2.5in SATA disk.
With its new storage product range, CalDigit takes a completely different approach from its competitors. The company seems to realise more than any other supplier that Apple’s portable solutions are poor in legacy connection capabilities. Hence, the upcoming T4 RAID system and the recently released AV Pro 2 single-disk solution will charge your laptop and adds a USB 3.0 hub to get more connectivity without adding extra devices.
The OWC Mercury Elite Pro Dual features two Thunderbolt 2 ports, one USB 3.1 Gen. 1 port and all of the cables you need to start using it immediately. You can set this small-footprint unit to RAID 0, RAID 1, disk spanning and JBOD modes. It has a black minimal design and you can buy it as a bare enclosure or with disks already installed. I got the chance to test the 2TB version.
I tested a 480GB OWC Mercury Extreme Pro 6G SSD with an Atomos Shogun Flame as well as with an iMac. The Mercury Extreme Pro 6G has been certified for use in Blackmagic Design equipment and has a maximum read speed of 559MB/s and write speed of 527MB/s. My own tests revealed slightly lower, although pretty impressive figures.
The last version of SoftRAID that I looked at was version 3. The latest version of the software that delivers RAID 0, 1, 4, 5 and 1+0 without you ever having to buy a RAID box has been fitted out with a new RAID Engine which has been claimed to equal the performance and reliability of dedicated hardware RAID controllers. I tried SoftRAID 5.6 using two and four bare disks I use as spare and backup drives. I tested the solution with RAID 0, 1, 5 and 1+0.
Shooting film outdoors can be a lot of fun, but it’s detrimental to your equipment if the weather turns against you. That’s why companies like LaCie, CalDigit and G-Technology make these rugged drives you can toss around, drop and submerge. CalDigit’s bus-powered portable Tuff drive is a fine example of a really tough drive. It’s now available in 1TB format with an SSD drive inside.
MacBook Pro 2016 users need a dock to hook up their legacy Thunderbolt gear. The most efficient and probably cheapest way to get there is to buy a dock like the CalDigit TS3 Lite or TS3. Those docks have their merit with iMacs too, despite of the need to work with adapters.
UltraDock v.5.5 still is the best solution to hook up a bare disk drive to your Mac or PC. The UltraDock v.5.5 comes with a number of tricks that may appeal to a bigger market than the old v4 UltraDock.