Assembly, Performance, Pricing, and Conclusion
Putting It All Together:
The Professional workflow modules are designed to function individually or in the HR1 / HR2. When used separate, simply use their included USB 3.0 cords.
Here we can see how they connect to the SR2 backplane:
The elegant solution simply has a USB 3.0 Type B connector at the appropriate place at the rear of each docking bay. This is convenient as you can leave the SR2 on your desk at home and leave the extra USB 3.0 cords in your travel bag. You only have to move the modules over from your bag to your desk. It doesn’t get much simpler than that really.
Quickly looking at the rear of the HR2, we can see USB and dual Thunderbolt connectivity, along with the power connector:
With the hundreds of SD / CF speed grades and combinations out there, this could quickly spiral into a huge memory card roundup review. We are going to save that for a future piece and in the meantime I will simply state that the UR1, SR1, and CFR1 were able to max out any cards we threw at them (up to a 633x Lexar Micro SD pushing nearly 100 MB/sec) without issue. These readers are faster than any cards you currently have or potentially will likely have in the near future. That leaves testing the DD256, which can exceed the speeds of any of the SD or CF cards we had at the office here. We tested the DD256 in the HR2, connecting via Thunderbolt and USB 3.0 to a MacBook Air (mid 2013) and an ASUS G751 laptop. Here are those results:
Windows USB 3.0
Under Windows, we saw more performance when linking via USB 3.0 than when using a Thunderbolt connection.
Mac USB 3.0
Under Mac we saw the same type of result as with Windows, where the Thunderbolt link was not as fast in practice as the USB 3.0 link. Thunderbolt is faster as a specification on paper, but the implementation / chipset in the HR2 appears to be more limiting for that interface.
Pricing (as of this writing):
- HR1: $45 (Amazon) (USB 3.0 only model – not tested)
- HR2: $196 (Amazon)
- UR1: $40 (Amazon)
- SR1: $24 (Amazon)
- SR2: $17 (Amazon) (newer / cheaper UHS-II capable model – not tested)
- CFR1: $17 (Amazon)
- DD256: $126 ($0.49/GB) (Amazon)
- DD512: $147 ($0.29/GB) (Amazon) (not tested – included as cost/GB is *very* good)
I added a few items above that are in addition to those we reviewed today:
- The HR1 is only 1/4 the cost of the HR2. Unless you *really* need Thunderbolt, I would recommend the USB 3.0 only model at only $45. This is especially noteworthy as we saw better performance over USB 3.0 when testing under both Windows and Mac systems.
- The SR2 (SD card reader), which I included as it is the faster / newer version which supports UHS-II cards, and is also cheaper than the SR1 that has been superseded by it.
- Finally, the DD512 should be preferred over the DD256 as you are getting double the capacity for an additional $21 (17% additional cost over the DD256).
All Lexar Professional Workflow products ship with a two-year limited warranty.
I was pleasantly surprised by the versatility of the Lexar Professional Workflow products. While not as small as some of the popular multi-card reader devices out there, Lexar card readers are known to be highly compatible and capable of accessing flash devices at the highest possible speeds. While the Thunderbolt-capable HR2 is pricey, the USB 3.0-only HR1 is on-par with other hubs, and both match perfectly with the various available Lexar readers. The DD256 and DD512 Storage Drives are also handy additions for either on the go or permanently docked additional storage, especially given the low cost/GB of the 512GB model. I really like how you can pick and choose the appropriate modules to suit your specific purpose, and the pricing of most of these modules is reasonably competitive given their performance and compatibility. For anyone out there heavy into video and photo work, I recommend giving the Lexar Professional Workflow products a try!