Review Blackmagic Cloud Pod Turns USB SSD’s Into Network Storage w/ 10 gig ethernet

hey everybody it’s la inside and we’re taking a look today at the black magic cloud pod the best way to describe this is as a mini nas for video creators and what it lets you do is connect up external solid-state drives like these to the two usb type-c ports here on the back and then you connect this up to up to a 10 gig ethernet network and you’re able to access those drives with pretty good performance over your local network and there’s also some dropbox syncing in the mix as well it’s got a very narrow use case but we’re going to explore its performance and talk about who might need something like this in just a second but i do want to let you know in the interest of full disclosure that i paid for this with my own funds all the opinions you’re about to hear are my own no one is paying for this review nor has anyone reviewed or approved what you’re about to see before it was uploaded so let’s get into it now and see what the cloud pod is all about now the price point on this is 395 dollars it’s a pretty simple unit you just plug it into your network plug your drives in and you are off and running there is a drive indicator light here on the top that you’ll see operating when we get things going on the back is where all the action is so you’ve got a 12 volt dc input on here it does come with a 60 watt power supply this is where your 10 gig ethernet will connect to it also works on one gigabit networks a little bit earlier i tested it on a 2.5 gigabit network and it was able to run at 2.5 so this is going to vary its speed based on what you connect things to but we will connect it to a 10 gig network to test things out in a minute these are where your two drives connect to unfortunately these are usb type-c gen one ports which means the

maximum that these ports will run at is five gigabits per second now most of the drives you’ll encounter out on the market like these two run at gen 2 speeds so what i’m finding for the most part is that your drives will run at about half the rate of speed on the cloud pod as they would directly connected to your computer and i’ll show you some examples of the maximum performance you can expect in a few minutes the last port here is an oddball this is an hdmi port but it is not for video ingest what this does is it outputs a status screen about the health and activity of your cloud pod device and it is a view only thing there’s no way to interact with the device through the hdmi either so what we’re going to do now is boot this up we’ll take a look at that control panel and also look at how it performs all right before we test everything let me just show you what i’ve got set up here for our test environment i have a qnap switch that i bought a little while back this supports 10 gig and 2.5 gig connections and on the 10 gig leg here i have my macbook pro 14 connected up with a 10 gig ethernet adapter via thunderbolt and then i also have the cloud pod connected to the other 10 gig port so we’re going to be able to get full speed between the mac and the cloud pod here for our testing i also have the switch connected up to the rest of my network here so we can get back and forth to the internet if we need to additionally i’ve got some drives connected this is a do-it-yourselfer this is an accusys enclosure that works with nvme drives and i have a samsung nvme inside of it when this drive is connected to a thunderbolt equipped pc it works as a thunderbolt drive but when it’s connected to something that only has usb type-c it works as a usb drive so even though we’ve got a thunderbolt cable connected to it it is currently working as a usb drive with the cloud pod here and thunderbolt cables by the way are the most compatible usbc cables you’ll find they support everything including full power and display i also have a samsung t7 here

this is another ssd that’s very popular this is connected up via usb type c to the other usb port on the back of the cloud pod so let’s start out with a little speed test and then we’ll see how we can configure this thing so we’re going to start off with blackmagic’s own disk speed test to see what kind of speeds we can get on this thing and what i’m going to do here is just look for the drive on my network as i point the speed test at the cloud pod and if i go over here to our network locations you will see the blackmagic cloud pod shows up like any other device might on my network it’s very much like a nas in that regard but there is no security so i can connect here without a username and start editing and adding files or deleting them from the drive that’s connected but in this case of course we’re going to do something a little less harmful which is run a speed test i’m going to click start here and as you can see on the do-it-yourself drive there we’re getting about 418 megabytes per second and that’s about the max that you’re going to see out of this thing in either direction and that’s because these are usb gen 1 ports on here so even though these drives can go faster this is the maximum we’re going to see on the cloud pod what i’m going to do now though is move this over a little bit and i have a second instance running and i’m going to connect to the other drive here real quick so we’ve now got the test running on both of these drives at the same time and as you can see there really isn’t a performance penalty for doing simultaneous data transfer here so we are just getting done with the re the right portion of that test now we’re reading you can see both drives are

reading at about 600 megabytes per second or so getting very close to maximizing that 10 gig connection and i’ll wait for it to cycle back over to the rights here so you can get a sense for that and as you can see both drives are writing out pretty much at the full speed that those usb connections can accommodate i also ran it a little bit earlier where i had one writing while the other one was reading and again i was seeing similar speeds here so these two usb ports on the back are not sharing the bus they are uniquely connected so that the performance out of each drive can be fully realized simultaneously and then of course we’re pushing that out via the 10 gig connection now while this test is running what i can also do is show you the control panel that you get out the back of the hdmi so here you can get an idea as to who’s connected to your drive how much storage you have available on your drives and you can also get a readout of your total data transfer right now so you can see that we are looks like currently reading at about five gigabits per second over that network and when it switches back to the right portion of the test you’ll see uh that graph there switch directions so now we’re writing and as you can see we’re writing out at a slightly faster rate of speed versus the read the max that i’ve seen this thing get to is about what you’re seeing right now which is about seven gigabits per second give or take so it’s never going to get to the full 10 gig and that’s due to usb and ethernet overhead i do think this control panel is really cool looking and i can see a lot of production houses maybe just

having this on a monitor somewhere because it does look cool but it is largely just informational and there’s no way to change any settings on this control panel while it’s running but you can change settings on a computer and in order to get into the settings on this device you have to install software there’s no web-based control panel like you might find on a network attached storage device and that software at the moment only runs on mac and windows let’s take a look at that so here is the cloud core setup software and this will work with the cloud pod along with some of the more expensive storage devices that blackmagic is selling and what you can do here is click on this button to get into your configuration screen now by default the only way you can adjust settings on the cloud pod is to connect it from one of its usb ports to your computer this is the only security feature that this thing has for the most part but you can switch it over like i did to ethernet so that you can configure it over the network if you want so you can see here just very basic settings time and date you can set it to a static ip if you want and then you can factory reset it i have dropbox sync set up right now on the box for the cloud pod it says it supports google drive but right now at the time i’m recording this video it only supports dropbox and the configuration for the synchronization is relatively simple you point it at a folder on one of the two drives that it is connected to and then tell it where on dropbox you want to sync things up with and you can have multiple sync points so you could have different projects synchronized in different ways you have three options for the type of synchronization default is a two-way

but you can also set up a one-way sync if that’s what you’re looking to do there’s also a provision here for syncing only proxy files versus the originals and this works with some black magic software that will look at a folder and automatically create proxy files whenever original videos get dropped into it the documentation though wasn’t very clear about how this feature works and i think it’s mostly designed for davinci resolve but if you are working with a lot of proxy files you can simplify and maybe streamline your synchronization by having this feature enabled and activated and then on the storage tab you’ve got your only security feature which is the ability to make this device a read-only device and this is not drive specific so when you enable this both drives are read only you can’t choose one versus the other so just be aware of that another thing you have to be careful about beyond just putting this thing on your network so everybody can use it is that there is no eject mechanism for the drive so if you are working on projects you’re going to need to go around the office and make sure everybody is saved and out before you pull the plug on it because there’s no way to safely eject so what you have to do is of course look to see if the activity light is not on you can see it reading and writing here as i am running another speed test and then you need to go into the control panel here on the hdmi to make sure that nobody is actively reading and writing as you can see on the left hand side there it shows me which users are active on the cloud pod here so it’s a very kind of old-fashioned way of ensuring that things are done you have to go around and call everybody

before you pull the drive out so let’s take a look now at a more practical use case actually editing video over the network using the cloud pods so we’re going to load up a multi-camera demo i’ve got here in final cut pro and this is coming over the 10 gig network from one of the drives connected to the cloud pod and as you can see here things are playing back very smoothly this is a two angle 4k 60 project this is a prores 422 file on both and as you can see here things are playing back just fine and i’ll pull up the control panel here so you can see what kind of bandwidth we’re pulling and it looks as though we’re doing about uh two and a half gigabits per second on the reads maybe a little less than that i have found sometimes though like when things like this title pop pop-up sometimes it uses a little more bandwidth so you can see we’re getting close to three gigabits per second there and things are slowing down and that’s due to the usb limitations of the drives as they’re connected over that gen one connection so if you are doing multi-angle stuff like this i think this is where you’re going to need to edit with proxy files especially at 4k i definitely could not do a third angle here if we were also using 4k 60 for our third angle input file so there are some limitations to this but for proxies it should work just fine and i think largely that’s what this is designed for it’s also kind of fun to move things around and then watch as the control panel responds so for example i just moved that title over and it has to re-render so you can see those little yellow dots there writing to the disk as it renders out that title again and it’s just kind of fun to watch this stuff go and get a feel for what kind of bandwidth is going through your drives when you’re doing basic editing work but it seems to work fine if you are doing this kind of thing if you have two different projects on two different drives and two different editors working off of those individual drives i think they will have a good

experience but if you start piling on more people into the same folders that’s when things will probably get bogged down due to the usb bandwidth limitations and the bandwidth limitations of the 10 gig network now as far as drive formats are concerned it supports xfat and hfs plus and that is it at the moment for the most part drives that are coming in from a recorder will likely have xfat as their drive format but if you plug in an ntfs drive or an apfs drive you’re going to not see that drive mount on the unit because its file system support is quite limited so the big question is who or what is this device for and i think it’s best suited for small production teams that don’t have a lot of it support and want something really simple to get proxies and original media shared with multiple users on a network at the same time with a good amount of performance and from that standpoint it accomplishes that quite well i was pleased with the fact that we can hit both drives simultaneously and get the full speed of this limited usb connection out of both and that is something that a lot of nas devices don’t do very well and a lot of docking stations don’t do very well because they often put the usb ports on the same bus but with simplicity always comes some security concerns and this thing is very insecure because there are no passwords involved with it it is a dumb smb server and anything that can access smb connections like any windows or mac pc will be able to see the drives here and by default write to them delete things and change things and you have to be really careful about who has access to this you’re not going to have any real issues with people coming in from the outside

because it doesn’t have any cloud functionality it’s not going to poke a hole in your firewall for example but the local network is always an area that you have to be careful about as well but if you are working with a small team you can buy yourself a cheap 10 gig dumb switch or a relatively cheap one and get everybody working off the same media the minute it comes in from the field without having to wait for it to copy first so if you wanted to consolidate your workflow while you’re out in the field doing some editing for a last minute production or something i think this can really fill that kind of need so there are use cases for this and i think if you’re watching this you’re probably thinking about some of those use cases but for a general consumer this is probably not something i would recommend and it’s certainly not going to replace a network attached storage device that can provide greater capacity along with greater security and a bunch of other features as well that’s going to do it for this look at the cloud pod and until next time this is lon simon thanks for watching this channel is brought to you by supporters including gold level supporters jim tannis and tom albrecht hot sauce and video games and eric’s variety channel brian parker and frank goldman amda brown and matt zagaya and chris allegretta if you want to help the channel you can by contributing as little as a dollar a month head over to lawn dot tv support to learn more and don’t forget to subscribe

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