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October 2014
Issue: February 1, 2012

Review: Glyph GPT50 external hard drive

By: Brady Betzel
PRODUCT: Glyph GPT50 external hard drive

WEBSITE: www.glyphtech.com

PRICE: Ranges from $199 to $399 depending on capacity — 500GB up to 3TB.

- two years of free basic data recovery on top of three-year warranty
- uses standard IEC power cable
- pro feel and look

Working in the fast and furious world of post does not allow for fumbling. As an assistant editor working on reality TV shows, I constantly use external hard drives for transferring tapeless media, backing up audio files, backing up project files and QuickTime exports. No matter what drive the company buys, there are always millions of power supplies and adapters that need to be kept with each one. 

Ten to 15 external drives in use at one time is not uncommon, and the assistant editors beg for consistency among drive types. We also constantly move tape decks around from edit bay to edit bay; because of the tape decks, each bay has an IEC power cable (standard deck power cable). Glyph, amazingly,  uses this standard power cable to interface with their external drives. So the GPT50 is easily accessed using a standard power cable that is already in every edit bay. Now when I need to back-up 10 days worth of dual-system sound, I can run down the corridor with just the drive in my hand and not six feet of cable and a power brick. 



A CLOSER LOOK

The GPT50 (7200RPM, 2TB for testing purposes) is a sleek desktop external hard drive that looks, feels and acts like a professional. It showcases a brushed aluminum faceplate and a scratch-resistant black powder-coated chassis. If you have ever worked in a rack-mount environment you have definitely felt solid machinery — the sharp lines and rugged-powder coated cases. I cannot overstate how great it is to not hold a hard drive that mimics the feeling of a book or wacky tetrahedral shape that I tried to leave behind in Mr. Boren’s, Camarillo High geometry class.
 
I do love me some wacky external hard drive designs in my personal life, but in a professional environment all I want is a rock-solid, practical external drive that can withstand some post production abuse (and/or frustration) like the GPT50. 

Hard drives in a professional environment are abused, not just externally but also internally — constantly being powered on and off throughout the day, which can wreak havoc on the power supply and internal boards. The GPT50 embraces the power of the Oxford 944 bridging chip, high-quality internal power supplies, an internal fan that runs high or low based on the internal temperature (they are quiet — didn’t-wake-the-newborn quiet), a USB 2.0 port, two FireWire 800 ports and eSATA. Transfer speeds from the computer to the hard drive are clocked at 125MB/sec with eSATA, 800 Mb/sec with FireWire 800, and you probably shouldn’t be using the USB 2.0 port unless you are working pre-Y2K, but it is nice to have in a big emergency (it runs at a measly 480 Mb/sec). These speeds are by the book and do not necessarily represent the real world. The real world to me is how many QuickTimes I can transfer per minute? I was able to get about two and a half 1GB QuickTimes transferred over FireWire 800 to the Glyph GPT50 in about a minute. With eSATA it feels like I am running off of an internal hard drive transferring about 6GB in about a minute. While these speeds should be standard among all 7200RPM drives running through the same pipe, the Glyph Technologies GPT50 seemed to be running a little speedier than I am used to.

The GPT50 comes in a couple of flavor combinations: 500GB, 1TB, 2TB, or 3TB and 5900RPM or 7200RPM. I plugged the 2TB, 7200RPM drive into my Mac OSX 10.7.2 and it worked beautifully. The GPT50 comes pre-formatted for Mac out of the box along with the standard IEC power cable and 9-pin FireWire 800 cable. If you are a PC-based operation, the drive can be formatted any way you wish, just be aware of older versions of Windows’ 2TB limitation. 

I use external drives constantly throughout the day — sometimes only to back up projects and files, sometimes to receive files from the field, and often times I edit straight from the drive. On rare occasion I edit from the drive when we need to do a fix to a show that is in the online process but has been consolidated from the offline storage. The GPT50 external drive is perfect in a pinch; there are no extraneous power cords and always plenty of room to keep consolidated cuts on the drive with lots of handles. At home, the drive worked flawlessly in and out of Avid Media Composer, Final Cut Pro and After Effects. Even editing using Avid’s AMA linking proved to be problem free with the GPT50.

FINAL THOUGHTS

When buying a new hard drive for home and for work I look for drives with a proven track record of being reliable, and I mean production-quality reliable. Beyond that, the warranty is nice but usually of no help. Glyph is headed straight to the top of my recommendation list because of its incredible out-of-the box warranty, which includes one-year of overnight advance replacement in the continental US, two years of free basic data recovery, and a three-year warranty on the drive itself. Two years of free data recovery is worth a lot of money in my book. Just the peace of mind that if something goes wrong I have one more level of protection makes the GPT50 drive go to the top of my list of professional and reliable external hard drives. 

Brady Betzel is an Assistant Editor based in Los Angeles. He can be reached at: brady@bradyb.com.