Disclaimer: I personally know Luke McElroy (Orange Thread Media), Stephen Proctor (WorshipVJ) and Camron Ware (VisualWorshiper). I don’t know that that really changes anything about this review, but I just wanted to get that out there. In fact, I had dinner with Luke earlier tonight and had my PBHD hand-delivered by him.
So here we go! A quick review about the PBHD, but first, a short video featuring the unboxing of my PBHD:
The song is “Orange Blossom Special” by the Charlie Daniels Band. It’s the only song I have with “orange” in the name. Pictures show on my Nikon D-100 and edited with iMovie ’09, featuring outdated Ken Burns affect and bad transitions.
The song is “Orange Blossom Special” by the Charlie Daniels Band. It’s the only song I have with “orange” in the name. Pictures shot with my Nikon D-100 and edited with iMovie ’09, featuring outdated Ken Burns effect and bad transitions.
Yes, that was “Orange Blossom Special” by Charlie Daniels. I thought it was rather fitting. And yes, I tried to make the transitions as cheesy as possible.
On with the review…
The Playback Hard Drive (PBDH) is an OWC Mercury-Elite AL hard drive. You can pick one up with several configurations of hard drive sizes and connection types. If you plan on growing your media library I’d recommend picking up the 1TB or 2TB hard drive. For my purposes, the PBHD is a secondary hard drive for me since I already own a 1TB OWC drive. I currently don’t have enough content to even fill up the 500GB PBHD that I bought. (Or the 1TB I have, or the 250GB Western-Digital hard drive, or my 500GB LaCie hard drive, although that one isn’t working right anyway.)
As promised, the PBHD comes with 75 HD videos, 79 SD (that’s 4 bonus clips) clips, 50 triple-wide clips, and 120 still images (some of which are triple-wide). Here’s the best part, these guys have included over 500 additional videos and still images from four other producers. The bonus set is already available for free from those producers, but the guys behind PBHD have gathered the resources into one location for you and included them on the PBHD at no extra cost or effort to you.
The PBHD has several purposes. One of the ideas behind it is to provide a starting point for churches that are just getting into visual worship. This is the church that has either just added a projection system into the worship area or is upgrading from basic backgrounds and PowerPoint. At just over the cost of the hard drive users are getting a couple thousand dollars (purchased individually) worth of media. $249 (plus tax if you live in TN) for a 500GB hard drive is a great value for a church just getting started in this exciting visual worship world.
On the other hand, the PBHD is a great product for churches that already have a good collection of media but are always interested in adding new content and adding a backup hard drive to their collection. With the exception of the bonus content and a small number of the other graphics and videos on the PBHD, none of this content is available anywhere else. It also includes Camron Wares’s world-famous “Names of God” videos that I once ripped off in Spanish for an event before he created the official Español version.
The PBHD is also a great collection of media for the VJ (aspiring or established). Every clip has been encoded with H.264 using high-quality settings (explanationhere) that will allow for greater efficiency with programs like ProVideoPlayer that allow for speed controls and cross fading on-the-fly. H.265 has also become a fairly ubiquitous industry standard despite some of its limitations. Again, all that is explained in the links above. H.265 also plays nicely with Windows and Mac (although some tweaking may be needed for playback in Windows).
Here’s the one drawback. The PBHD is formatted to work on a Mac. I connected it to my Compaq laptop that’s running Windows7 and while it detected a new USB device it didn’t actually mount the drive. This is a limitation with Windows. However, there are some programs that will mount Mac-formatted drives in Windows. Luke and I discussed this issue over dinner tonight and talked about some of the possible solutions. So if you’re in the market for a PBHD, but you only have PCs, stay tuned for more information on this topic. UPDATE: I just got a call from Luke and he has updated the PBHD store to include a Mac or Windows formatted option. The Windows format will come pre-formatted in FAT32. This does limit you to file transfers of under 8GB per single file. However, I doubt many of you will be using backgrounds that are that large so it shouldn’t be a problem. So if you use a Windows computer make sure you select the correction option on the store page when you go to purchase your PBHD.
Overall the PBHD is a great product. The actual hard drive itself is one of the most stable hard drives available and MacSales (the company that sells the actual drive) provides great customer services for their products. Even though you’re buying the hard drive through Orange Thread Media, MacSales still provides direct customer service on the drive if you have any issues. There is a lot of great content on the drive, although not all of it is for everyone. It’s like I told Luke, I don’t like using candle loops very often, but plenty of people do. Unfortunately for all of you waterfall-, bubbling river- or bucolic scenery-loving types out there there aren’t any of those clips on the PBHD. But the good news is that once you buy the PBHD you can download all the nature scenes you want and add them to the hard drive.
And there’s one more thing…for everyone who purchases the PBHD you will receive one free clip or image EVERY month from here on out. You can get all the details and more on the Playback Hard Drive here.