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Review: Lexar Professional Workflow HR2 4-Bay Thunderbolt 2/USB 3.0 Hub

Overview : The Professional Workflow HR2 4-Bay Thunderbolt 2/USB 3.0 Hub from Lexar is a 4-bay hub that supports Lexar's Professional Workflow line of USB 3.0 storage drives and Thunderbolt 2/USB 3.0 card readers. You can connect this hub using either Thunderbolt 2 or USB 3.0. You can also add up to four flash-based storage drives to this hub and store transferred files. Even if you connect it to the computer with Thunderbolt 2, the drives and readers will still operate at USB 3.0 speed. However, because Thunderbolt 2 supports a faster overall speed, you can use all four devices in the bay at the same time, without slowing down. The hub is also backwards compatible with Thunderbolt and USB 2.0 (at slower speeds), while using the same cables and connectors.

Features :
  • Transfers and backs up images and video from multiple memory cards at once
  • Thunderbolt 2 and USB 3.0 technology for high-speed transfer and backup of RAW images, high-res photos, and HD, 3D, and 4K video
  • Supports FAT32, exFAT, and NTFS files systems.
  • Performance: 450MB/s read, 245MB/s write using USB 3.0 connectivity
  • Readers support today’s latest card formats: SDHC/SDXC UHS-I and UHS-II, CompactFlash UDMA 7, XQD, CFast 2.0 (Thunderbolt or USB 3.0), and microSDHC/microSDXC UHS-I
  • USB 3.0 storage drives provide 256GB or 512GB of storage
  • Modular design
  • Readers:
    • Lexar Professional Workflow SR1 (SD/UHS-I/USB 3.0 reader)
    • Lexar Professional Workflow SR2 (SDHC/SDXC UHS-II USB 3.0 reader)
    • Lexar Professional Workflow CFR1 (CompactFlash USB 3.0 reader)
    • Lexar Professional Workflow XR1 (XQD USB 3.0 reader)
    • Lexar Professional Workflow CR1 (CFast 2.0 USB 3.0 reader)
    • Lexar Professional Workflow CR2 (CFast 2.0 Thunderbolt/USB 3.0 reader)
    • Lexar Professional Workflow UR1 (three-slot microSDHC/microSDXC UHS-I USB 3.0 reader)
  • Storage drives:
    • Lexar Professional Workflow DD256 (256GB USB 3.0 storage drive)
    • Lexar Professional Workflow DD512 (512GB USB 3.0 storage drive)
  • Warranty: Two-year limited warranty on all products

Quality/Usability : I own a few card readers whether it be just a CF card reader, microSD/SD card reader or a multi-card reader. It can be a hassle carrying around multiple card readers or even having them connected to your computer. Not to mention, you can only have one card inserted. What about when a new storage format is released? Your current card reader will not work with it and you'll have to go out and but a new card reader just for that new format.

Lexar has a Professional Workflow hub that lets you plug and swap out card readers. You can have multiple of the same card reader at the same time. So you can have four CF card readers and transfer them all at the same time without having to wait for one to finish before you insert the next one. Time is of the essence for photographers who need to transfer large files quickly. That is where the Workflow Hub comes in.

Included with the HR2 hub are outlet plugs, AC adapter, Thunderbolt 2 and USB 3.0 cable, and pamphlet. The hubs help you eliminate cable clutter and take control of your workflow. Setup is fairly easy. Simply plug-and-play. No software needed.

The HR2 feels solid enough with no flex on the main surfaces and the base has a rubber pad to keep the hub from sliding around. The gloss finish gives it a nice look but its a magnet for dust and fingerprints. It probably would have been best to just keep it matte all around. The hub itself is relatively compact, standing 6″ tall and 3″ deep.

The front houses four bays. You can connect up to four Workflow readers. On the back, there are two Thunderbolt 2 ports, one USB 3.0 and a power port.

Pop off the covers on the hub and it reveals a male USB 3.0 connection in each bay. Lexar offers readers ranging from CFs, CFasts, SDs, XQDs, microSDs and even a storage drive. Price of readers ranges from $30.00 to $145.00. Do note that the Thunderbolt version will cost significantly more than the USB 3.0 counterpart.

Simply plug the readers or storage drives of choice into the hub and start transferring and archiving files. It’s that easy. One of the great things about the readers is that all of the components can be used individually outside of the hub via USB 3.0. So if you wanted to take just a card reader or SSD drive on a trip, you could, and leave the hub at home.

It's nice that Lexar even included a Thunderbolt cable. This is only included with the Workflow HR2. The Workflow HR1 [Amazon | B&H Photo | Adorama] is a cheaper alternative to the HR2 because it's only USB 3.0.

The USB 3.0 cable that is included is to attach the back of the HR2 hub to your computer's USB port.

Lexar also included a AC adapter in order to power up the hub. When plugged in, a blue light is lit to show that it is powered.

The modular design of the Professional Workflow line of products makes it adaptable to changing technology. As new card formats are introduced and Lexar releases additional storage drives for this system, you’ll be able to swap in new products to meet your growing and changing needs.

Transfer rates is what you would expect on USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt 2. It would have been fantastic if there was a button which with a single press copied all the data from installed cards to the DD256/512 storage drive or even to a designated folder on the computer.

Conclusion : Overall, the Lexar Professional Workflow HR2 4-Bay Thunderbolt 2/USB 3.0 Hub is a must have for any photographer who shoots in various formats or just has a lot of files that needs to be transferred.

If you don't forsee yourself needing Thunderbolt 2 in the near future, you can opt for the Workflow HR1 which is almost 1/3rd of the cost and still does the same thing as the Workflow HR2.

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