By Mark Levesque, CPP
The digital age has brought with it the benefits of rapidly improving technology that simultaneously becomes more capable and less costly. As a consequence of more and better megapixels, photographers are generating ever increasing quantities of data. The recent trend in DSLRs to add HD video capability compounds the problem: how to contend with all the data generated on a shoot. The solution has been to take advantage of a similar trend in the flash memory market: more memory for less money. Larger memory cards notwithstanding, photographers often find themselves on location and running out of memory, or simply looking to quickly create the peace of mind that having your data safely backed up can bring.
Enter the Nexto eXtreme ND-2700 from Nexto DI. Touting “on the go” backups, this device is the essence of simplicity. Plug in your card, and press the button. The embedded hard drive springs to life and the copying of your data commences. It’s that easy to create reliable backups. In short order you have a copy of your data, along with status indicating its integrity.
In essence, the Nexto eXtreme is a laptop hard disk drive with a rechargeable battery, two card slots that will accommodate just about any sort of camera media, and interfaces for communicating with a computer. Its spartan design includes no frills; everything has a purpose. Build quality seems quite solid. The case is metal and has a textured, fingerprint-hiding surface.
The button (yes, there is just the one) has a solid feel to it, which is important because as your only human interface, you need to modulate the button to choose between yes and no and to make other choices. There are 4 possible inputs recognized by the device: a short pulse, a long pulse, a double click and an extra long pulse, which is used to turn the unit on or off. Menus have a maximum of 3 choices along with S, L or D (Short, Long, Double) to indicate the input that corresponds to each choice. This arrangement is simple yet somewhat cumbersome, and the more choices you have to make, the more noticeable that the restrictions of a one-button interface become. Fortunately, simply backing up data cards is extremely easy.
The Nexto eXtreme connects to a computer via a USB 2.0 or a much speedier eSATA interface. To your computer, it looks like any other external disk, so moving files to and from your computer is a familiar process. NextoDI has also given the Nexto eXtreme USB 2 host interface capability, which allows you to connect the device directly to a camera, camcorder, card reader, or even another disk. Since the physical connector for the USB is a device connector, Nexto DI has included an adapter cable that converts a standard USB cable to have device connectors at both ends, making direct connection to a camera or camcorder possible.
Powering the Nexto eXtreme is accomplished in one of three ways. An AC/DC converter is provided to allow powering from a regular household outlet, a battery-in connector allows the use of an auxiliary battery pack, or the USB interface can be used to power the unit. Once the internal Lithium-Polymer battery is charged, the unit can be expected to backup approximately 60 GB of data before needing to be recharged (140 GB with the optional auxiliary battery pack).
Nexto DI touts the performance and reliability of the Nexto eXtreme. Performance is provided by a patented technology that Nexto calls X-Copy. It appears to be a DMA architecture that bypasses the CPU when delivering data from the memory card to the embedded hard disk, and includes hardware for data verification. My testing supported the claimed transfer speeds: under 5 minutes to backup and verify a full 4GB card. To really get a sense for the reliability of the device, one would need an extended test period under varying conditions, but based on initial impressions, it performs as expected.
For flexible, reliable, on-the-go backups in the field, the Nexto eXtreme fits the bill nicely. While the design may be a bit bare-bones, there are many useful features which will make it an asset, not the least of which are its compact design and ease in transferring data from your flash cards. The lack of a screen to preview images and rudimentary interface style are what separate it from similar storage devices like the Epson P7000, but you do get a lot more storage capacity for the money. If you ever run out of memory cards, or travel to remote locations and want the security of data backup, this solution may be for you.
The Nexto eXtreme ND-2700 (160GB capacity) sells for $235; 250GB ($267), 320GB ($299) and 500GB ($334) sizes are available.
Mark Levesque owns and operates Studio Mark Emile, a portrait studio in Nashua, NH.