ARTICLE: Anthony reviews the Sonnet Qio for EventDV Magazine

I had the opportunity to review the new Sonnet Qio for EventDV magazine and was surprised to find that every one of its lofty engineering goals seems to have been attained. This is noteworthy in this day and age when everything touts to be the perfect solution to our needs (the perfect camera, the perfect light, the perfect software package) yet they all seem to fall short in many places (low light capability, flexibility, codec compatibility, etc.)
The Qio is the first product in a long time that not only does everything it says it will, it does it all well.

Sonnet sent me their Qio, a device which does so much that calling it a media reader is actually a disservice. The Qio extends the PCI Express bus outside of you notebook or desktop computer of choice and enables you to use nearly all ExpressCard and PC Card interfaces you need. You can also read media: SDHC, CompactFlash, SxS, P2, etc. and, on top of all this, it has four “port multiplied” eSATA ports that enable you to connect as many as 20 external hard drives– at eSATA speeds –to your desktop, or even better… to your ExpressCard-equipped laptop computer.

I threw everything I had at it, formatted external drives in multiple ways and tested the results. The Qio delivered.

See my captions below each image for details.

F2 as a Mirrored RAID speed test results

F2 in Striped RAID speed test results

8GB P2 cards, througput is solid throughout the file sizes.

8GB P2 throughput is solid throughout the file sizes.

Then I worked with Tim Harry, the Edit Bay Supervisor for the Dallas International Film Festival to really give the Qio a trial by fire. He had to ingest hundreds of MB of video & still files every day, to organize, edit and upload into a recap of each day’s activities by midnight. Flawless performance & speed were crucial features— and the Qio delivered.

The Qio in use at the Dallas International Film Festval

Qio handling two P2, SDHC and CF all at the same time.

Really, the best features of the Sonnet Qio are inerrant in its core design— to extend the PCI Express buss and put it in this small box outside the computer. This enables so much more possibility and capability than a single card reader stuck in the side of your laptop. The entire system is so well thought out that when I went to connect the Sonnet Fusion F2 drive to the Qio, Sonnet had included short “jumper” cables for both SATA and for power so that the cable clutter was kept to an absolute minimum.

Simplified eSATA & Power cable management

In the end, I find that the $999 list price is definitely justified by all the capability the Qio offers. On my facebook page, I called it the best production accessory you could possibly get for your laptop. Add a $199 desktop PCI card, and you can easily move the Qio between computers, maximizing the value of your investment.