As editor of Pro Tools Expert and weekly contributor to the Pro Tools Expert podcast there's a question I've seen asked again and again, should one chose a desktop or portable hard drive?
Desktop hard drives normally offer faster speed and greater capacity, whereas portable drives offer the flexibility of being able to throw them into a bag for a studio session or a gig. The best of both worlds would be nice.
G-Technology have come to the rescue with a combination of both desktop Thunderbolt drive and 2 x 1TB 7200rpm portable drives (the G-Drive ev), they call it the G-DOCK ev With Thunderbolt Storage.
Of course with any product that aims to meet a number of needs there is the danger of compromise, being a jack of all trades and rather than a master of one. Have G-Tech fallen into this trap or have they managed to deliver on a mixed set of needs?
The G-DOCK ev In Use
The G-DOCK ev comes well equipped with a box full of goodies that is enough to make any unboxing junky happy, it includes the G-DOCK ev dock, 2 x 1TB 7200rpm drives, power supply and a set of cables, including a Thunderbolt cable. The G-DOCK ev dock has a PSU socket on the rear and TWO Thunderbolt ports. One would think that two Thunderbolt ports shouldn't be anything special but there are far too many products on the market currently shipping with a single Thunderbolt port. A single Thunderbolt port makes devices less useful for those using devices as part of a media production system which will often include an audio interface - the provision of two ports is big thumbs up allowing the user to daisy-chain through the G-DOCK ev and mitigates the need for a further piece of hardware or adaptor to include it in the system, other manufacturers should take note.
Next it was time to install the two 1TB drives, which when used on their own are USB3 adding an extra plus for speed. In our tests often USB3 gives the same kind of performance as Thunderbolt, whilst not having the expense of the Thunderbolt cables and a greater chance of connectivity with many of other devices. G Tech also offer 2TB, 500GB, and 500GB SSD versions of the ev drives compatible with the G-DOCK.
The unit is very quiet, a lot quieter than other similar devices including their own G Drive, one of which I own. In fact this is one of the few devices I would sit on a desk in my studio to work with.
The next test is of course speed, with Thunderbolt connectivity this should not be lacking. G Tech claim that the G-DOCK ev can deliver speeds of up to 136MB/s. We ran our standard Black Magic speed test using a 5gb load to read and write to a single drive in the dock. You can see the results in the graphic, but suffice to say it was near as dammit about what G Tech claim delivering a write time of 126.6MB/s and a read time of 134.5MB/s.
Before using the G-DOCK ev G Tech advise the download of the Assistant software, which includes an update to give LED support to the dock showing when it is safe to remove the drives. Installing was a doddle, although it required a restart to get the software to work fully.
The G-DOCK ev is going to set you back around £450, so there are cheaper options of the market for storage. However the nifty way that G Tech have managed to deliver a desktop and portable hard drive experience without compromising on quality, noise or speed makes the G-DOCK ev an attractive option for media professionals.
I'm often having to take a portable drive with me on sessions or film shoots, in fact the last job I worked on I took a Lacie D2, which one could hardly describe as portable. The G-DOCK ev gives me the option to take a 1TB 7200rpm USB3 drive which fits in my pocket, which I can bring back to the studio and then read over Thunderbolt at speeds of up to 136MB/s.
When you start to add up the parts for the G-DOCK ev, a couple of 1TB 7200rpm USB3 portable drives are around £120 each on Amazon, a 2 drive Thunderbolt chassis is around £200, and of course you can't simply slot in the two portable drives with the same convenience. When the maths are done then the G-DOCK ev with it's features and convenience is an attractive value proposition. Additional G-Drive ev drives are the same price as other portable devices from brands like Lacie, so G Tech aren't making users pay a premium for the convenience either. To be clear you can also buy more of the 1TB ev G-Drives if you need them, as in you don't need to buy another G-Dock to get two more 1TB ev G-Drives.
A final added bonus is that G-Technology have launched their new G-Drive ev RaW series of drives aimed at media professionals needing a portable yet rugged drive. The G-Drive ev RaW series of drives offer impact proof (up to 1.5m drop test) 2.5" 7200rpm USB3 drives with a blue rubberised casing to protect them in tough environments, they are fully compatible with the G-Dock. It seems that blue may be the new orange. The new G-Drive ev RaW drives come in 500gb and 1TB versions.
The G-DOCK ev is a neat idea and well worth consideration for an serious media professional - the G Technology G-DOCK ev Thunderbolt gets my thumbs up.