RED MINI-MAG exposed as a massive scam?
Video production is an expensive business. While mirrorless cameras like the Sony Alpha series does lower the entry barrier a tad, RED Digital Cinema cameras are like the industry standard for professionals. They have developed a complete ecosystem in modules, from the sensor down to the storage, to mix and match to create a camera just for your needs. And the latter is where RED has has apparently tried to pull a fast one.
RED released the RED MINI-MAG with some pretty lofty claims. Promising lower error rates than even reputable generic media, RED claims to have developed their own IP and firmware for the RED MINI-MAG. Which was proven to be false by the YouTube channel Jinni.Tech. Do take this with a pinch of salt though, as JinniMAG makes third party media that works with RED cameras.
With that said, RED does have some explaining to do considering how they are just packaging regular mSATA SSDs with an adapter and selling it with a crazy mark up. A 500GB Samsung 860 EVO, which is probably the highest end mSATA drive you can find in the market, sells for RM559 on Lazada. Meanwhile a 480GB RED MINI-MAG one goes for $1450 (~RM5967).
According to Jinni.Tech’s teardown of the RED MINI-MAG, the drives are regular mSATA drives, with factory firmware from the drive manufacturer, with an adapter to make it work with the RED cameras. The firmware is really bog standard, with CrystalDiskInfo reading the S.M.A.R.T. data correctly. The adapter also does not have any logic or memory on it, so it essentially just links up the connections to each other correctly.
So while RED claimed to have spent millions on firmware, the firmware is most probably on the camera itself, rather than the storage media themselves, which means that you can easily upgrade your RED MINI-MAG with any mSATA drive in the market and get more storage for a lot less money.
How well it would work in practice (i.e. actual video shooting) does remain to be seen. Also, RED does offer data recovery for free, which is a pretty costly service. Still, it won’t be all that costly. And since it is a regular mSATA drive, you can probably get away with using software like Recuva or EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard Professional.
While overcharging for readily available technologies by simply slapping on a fancy name isn’t really a new thing, I do believe RED should have been more transparent about this. I don’t know, I am not from the marketing line of work. What do you think?
Pokdepinion: Niche brands overcharging for the accessories? That’s pretty usual.