Gear review: Sanho Hyperdrive Colorspace UDMA

Update: A new updated version 2 of the device has been released. I don’t have it, since the original has been rock solid for me, but from what I’ve read it has an updated interface as well as an ad-hoc wireless dongle. Essentially, you plug in a wifi dongle and can connect to the device via your PC.

Please note: an Ad-hoc wifi network is a small mini network that YOUR PC connects to… it does not connect to your current wifi network at home. Slight difference but there is a difference. Realistically, I prefer to just plug the whole device in via a usb cable and transfer it that way since it will be MUCH faster than transferring over wifi.

You can get the updated device here: Sanho Hyperdrive Colorspace UDMA 2 $340 for the 160GB version. (Basically the same price as the version 1 device)

Here is the updated device (case only – you buy your own harddrive): Sanho Hyperdrive Colorspace UDMA 2 (Case Only).

Original review:

Instead of an FAQ Friday segment, today we have a special video review on a photography device we rely on quite a bit. The device I am reviewing is the Sanho 160GB HyperDrive COLORSPACE UDMA Multimedia Storage. It has been available for a few years now and has been a favorite device for many photographers since it’s initial release. Personally, we’ve had it for over a year now and it has been rock solid. What is it and why do we rely on it so much? Take a look at our video review.

So what is it actually? It is an external hard-drive, but more specifically a memory card off-loader. What’s the difference between this and an portable hard drive you can pick up at any Best Buy? A normal portable hard drive needs to be plugged into a PC. You then plug your memory card into the PC and then back up your files. Basically, a portable hard drive is just a dumb drive that you have to babysit the whole process of backing up your photos. The Sanho Hyperdrive is a standalone “smart” hard drive. All you need to do is plug your memory card right into the device then press a button and it will automatically back up all your photos. It then shuts itself off after a minute of inactivity.

Anyhow, I’ll let the video do most of the explaining. I know the video is a bit long winded, but if you are in the market for a media card off-loader it’s worth a watch. It is definitely one of the most important device we carry with us at all times.

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You can get the device at the same trusted store we always purchase from:

Sanho Hyperdrive Colorspace UDMA 160GB $315

For the geeky peeps out there, you can buy just the casing alone (no hard drive) and put in your own laptop 2.5″ hard drive. It is listed to support hard drives from: 120GB-750GB and recommends 5400RPM drives for power effeciency. You can get just the bare casing below. However, because of its popularity it’s not always in stock, so you’ll have to wait a bit longer for delivery:

Sanho Hyperdrive Bare Casing only

For those of you who prefer a quick text review, here are the details:

Pros:
– unattended memory card backup
– incremental backup support
– no PC required
– reads all camera raw formats
– backs up video files too
– long lasting rechargeable battery
– 2.5″ SATA HDD capacity (120~750GB)
– fast transfer speeds 2GB/min with full data verification
– 3.2″ color LCD screen
– picture viewer displays jpegs and raw files
– ultra reliable
– saves you from buying a whole bunch of memory cards
– small and portable

Cons:
– costs $315

Basically, it’s the best on-site memory card off-loader available. After doing a lot of research, this was the device we purchased. If you are an event photographer, this is almost a must-have. As a photographer covering a whole day event (ex. wedding, or multiple photo-shoots), you don’t have the time to babysit your laptop, plug in your memory cards, then wait for it to transfer… then shut down your laptop. This device allows you to leave your laptop at home. Keeping it safely away from potential thieves. The alternative to a device like this is to buy a lot of memory cards. Personally though, I’d rather trust my data on physical hard drives than flash media (memory cards).

How do we use it during a portrait session? Both Kay and I carry 3 memory cards each. Two cards get used while the other one is a backup. When the first card gets near full, we swap the 2nd card into the camera as the 1st card is being off-loaded (and backed up) onto the Hyperdrive device. It’s so easy, just plug it in and forget about it… the device turns itself off. By the time the 2nd card gets full we’re near the end of the session already.. and as we drive home, the 2nd card is plugged into the Hyperdrive and is off-loaded/backed up. When we get home, the first thing we do is plug this device into our PC and off-load ALL the photos collected from multiple memory cards throughout the whole day all at once. Saves us a lot of time of babysitting one memory card after the other.

The very best feature of the device is that it gives us a super portable, instant on-site backup. If for some reason the “flimsy” memory cards get corrupted or lost after the session, we still have a backup on a “real” physical hard drive. That peace of mind is invaluable. If you have ever lost images and had to explain that to a client then you may know what this means; luckily we’ve never had this happen =).

We’ve had this device for over a year and never had a single “bad backup”. Every single time it has performed solidly and flawlessly (knock on wood!). The important thing is to think of this device as an on-site backup utility not an at-home backup storage drive. You can get less expensive external hard drives with much more space for your photo storage needs.

Because it is a standalone device, it is also great for week long vacations. When you need to pack light (ex. camping), you can keep your brick of a laptop at home and snap away all weekend long. Just offload your memory card onto the device and keep shooting. The battery will last all weekend long EASILY.

That’s it for this video review. Hope it helps some of you out there. Let us know if you have any questions. No comments on how busted I look in the video! ;p

  • bao bai said:

    This was what Millie was telling me ya had. Slick....I need to invest in one.:)

    • tyger said:

      One corrupted or lost memory card will quickly ruin a client's day. But it's a huge time savor too, something to really think about if you plan to take in more event photography jobs.

      • bao bai said:

        Got it! I have to get it for sure! Don't want a dissappointed client.:)

  • I'm wondering if there any a way to replace that internal 160gb drive to a larger drive say an 1tb drive? I know you can do it to other storage devices.

    • tyger said:

      @Tou
      Yes, you can purchase just the casing alone. With that option, you can install your own harddrive. However, it is listed to support only 120GB-750GB hard drives and recommends the slower 5400rpm drives for power efficiency. Many people purchase just the casing alone. Because of this it is always out of stock. But you can definitely take a look at it here:

      Sanho Hyperdrive Bare Casing only

  • D Ben said:

    Very nice review. Unfortunately, the face of the device was "over exposed" most of the time, as the angle of the face wasn't quite aligned properly with the camera. Nevertheless, everything else was great, and most appreciated.

    If you have the opportunity, please discuss how the device handles video.

    Have you had, or perhaps another viewer has, had the opportunity to actually insert a 2.5" drive. I'm curious because I'm a "belt-and-suspenders" guy--if my data isn't backed up on TWO medias, I don't have a backup. Granted, the Sanho appears to be extremely reliable, but accidents and thieves happen. If I'm going on a long trip, it seems reasonable to carry a *couple* of the small HD's. Given the fast transfer speed, it appears making a double backup would be easy. I wonder if the Sanho's contents could be backed up onto a Passport?

    I've used the Steneo portable cd burner, and it is excruciatingly slow, so this Sanho must be state of the art!

  • Hi Tyger,
    Great review of the Sanho Colorspace Hyperdrive UDMA. Thanks for making it.
    I have a question for you: is it possible to transfer files directly off of this machine to a USB thumbdrive?
    Thanks,

    Paul Crouse
    Kyoto, Japan

    • tyger said:

      Hi Paul,
      Thanks for looking at our review. To transfer files directly to a thumbdrive you would need another USB OTG (on-the-go) adapter. I am not sure if any generic OTG adapter can work, but Sanho does sell their own dongle called: .