By Neil Bennett | on March 30, 2009
Price When Reviewed: 270 . 402
Pros: Innovative design and usage; very fast performance for a ‘portable’ drive.
Cons: No RAID 1 support on standard Windows OSes; pricey.
This drive is reviewed as part of our group test of desktop storage devices.
The Fusion F2 is somewhere between a desktop media drive and a portable storage unit. Pitched at video editors, VFX and motion-graphics artists, and animators, the F2 is an innovative but pricey device that’s essentially two 2.5-inch eSATA drives bolted together in a rugged chassis, with power provided by a FireWire lead.
The standard set-up for the slick, matte silver device requires you to connect the device to your MacBook Pro (or Windows laptop) over two eSATA cables, using an ExpressCard plug-in card such as Sonnet’s Tempo SATA ExpressCard/34.
You then plug the power lead into the laptop’s FireWire port and set up the drives as a striped or mirrored device using Mac OS X’s Drive Utility, or as a striped array using Windows Administrative Tools (as only the server versions of Windows support creating RAID 1 arrays in software).
The F2 uses the FireWire’s power output, and is designed to be used alongside AJA’s Io external capture and effects box – which requires all of the FireWire bandwidth to itself – to create a full Final Cut Studio edit suite around a MacBook Pro.
The innovative set-up enables you to create a floating edit suite: you can edit on the road just using your laptop and F2, then plug in an LCD screen, decks and other hardware boxes such as the Io for a full-powered studio. As it uses a software RAID, it’s not practical to swap the F2 between desktop and laptop edit suites.
The Fusion F2 is a niche device but if you regularly edit on location or in transit, it’s going to be highly useful. For example, Sonnet has made much of the F2 being used for editing Iron Maiden’s recent tour diaries between gigs.
Sonnet launched the F2 over a year ago, but it was recently released in a 1TB capacity, which is the model we tested. With two 5,400rpm laptop drives at its core, the F2 can’t deliver the throughput of the G-RAID 3 or UltraMax Plus -- which both use 7,200rpm desktop drives. However, its performance is good enough for up to day-to-day real-time editing of three to five streams of compressed HD video.