Well, I just loaded and downloaded my first set of photos from an Epson P-4000 digital storage device, and so far I love it. On the down side, I have to have the AC adapter plugged in while it's downloading to the computer, but I knew that before i bought it (from reviews). Has anyone had any luck (good or bad) from using this? I bought it for $669.50 from B&H with a $50 rebate, and a no-shipping fee as a NAPP member, making the price around $610 - a bit pricy, so we'll see. I had one before made by some country that must have only had one palm tree and a cardboard box, becuase i could not even read the instructions, and after 3 battery recharges, the thing failed completely. I knew i was in trouble when i opened it and it said "please to tell us our product is good or not" and no phone number, no address, nothing!!! i had paid $185 for it..i think it is called "image tank". any other experiences here?
I figured that a really viewable screen simply wasn't going to fit on any portable device so I abandoned the screen altogether and with the 100gig Silver Series portable drive from Iomega. I've had it since January and I paid about $249 for it.
It's very simple; essentially it's just a 100gig drive which runs off of a USB connection. Nice and fast, nice and small, and downright huge inside. I've got years worth of both photo and audio files on it and there's still plenty of room.
Yes, it needs to be plugged into a computer in order to work, but it draws its power from that computer and needs no other connection. It is literally smaller than a cigarette pack (a little wider, a little longer, but only a quarter as deep) and it's been solid as a rock. I really recommend this one, but it does NOT have a viewing screen built in.
These days you can get it in a 120gig configuration as well as smaller sizes.
I tested and wrote about the original Epson P2000. The one really great advantage that justifies the price is the quite large and very high resolution screen. It's screen quality is good enough to evaluate images and saves not having to have a laptop to take in the field.
that would be one of the upsides in my view also. on the way to work i took several photos in RAW and jpeg at different levels, and was able to determine from the screen whether they would be worth keeping. that plus the ability to delete them one at a time makes it a good unit. I don't think i'll worry about "only" having 80gb memory. One of the things that may be worrysome would be the cameras they list that are supported, for example, they do NOT list the new Canon 5D (is that the model?), so i'm not sure if i would be able to use any future cameras for it - i'll assume it will be compatible with future models, however. i also like the size, and the case has a thing that i can use to hook it onto my belt.
I would think that as time progresses and new camera models with different Raw formats come into the market Epson may be able to provide a means to upgrade the firmware in the P2000/P4000 units. To not support users over time would not be in the company's interest.
I read your article on the P-2000 unit and thought it was a great product. This thought was reinforced when I trotted down to my local CompUSA to see one in person. But while it's an excellent unit, I decided that my own needs were better served by a plain-vanilla portable hard drive.
While I'm not in any way trying to criticize what's best for others, for me it came down to two factors: cost and screen size. At the time, the P-2000 retailed for $499 and gave you a 40gig drive and a 3.8" 640x480 screen. The P-4000 has an 80gig drive and the same screen and as Arthur has said retails for $669.50 - a generous hard drive, a screen wider than any found on a camera, a small form factor, and a reasonable price.
As with anything, there are tradeoffs though. For that same sub-$700 price I can buy a brand new laptop. No, it's not the cool high-end laptop, but it's got a LOT of functionality which the P-4000 doesn't offer and it's got a 14" 1280x1024 screen which is a big selling point for me. To be fair, I'll only get a 20gig hard drive with that laptop and it's certainly far bulkier than the P-4000.
But to be equally fair, the use I put it to does not demand a brand-new machine. Go to any flea market or used computer store and you can find a fair selection of perfectly useful laptops in the $200-$300 range. Old technology, it's true, but if my primary need is for viewing photos in the field, they work just fine. In fact, I'm currently using two 5-year-old Compaq Armada 1750 machines which I managed to get in exchange for labor instead of cash. While certainly MUCH larger than the P-4000, the whole kit and kaboodle (just one laptop) still fits into a standard bag which slips easily into one of my motorcycle panniers for a quick shoot or an extended trip. On a long trip, the hotel's high-speed internet connection even allows me to dump images to my web space for additional security against loss, plus the obvious benefits of attaching to the Web for local info in a strange place. I even have mapping software installed so I can either find (or find my way out of!) obsure places or examine the USGS Topographic maps to scout out likely places to visit. Yes, there's a significant difference in size and weight, but there's also a significant difference in functionality.
Now once again, I'm not in any way trying to denigrate the P-4000. I've held the P-2000 in my hands and was quite impressed. But when I look at my own needs and at the relative cash outlays, the laptop and a tiny but high-gig portable storage device are the way I choose to go. The lure of a 14" 1280x1024 screen is a tough thing to resist - particularly at roughly the same price point.
You make some good arguments which I think should be considered. However the size and resolution of the screen image of the Epson P2000/P4000 is not its only or even primary advantage, it is the quality of the reproduction of the image that is fundamental to using it to evaluate and edit images- that involves the crucial decision whether to keep an image or trash it.
And here I would disagree that cheap or older laptops can and should be considered by anyone serious to serve that crucial editing decision as to whether an image is worth keeping or trashing simply because the laptops you describe are not likely to have the capability of reproducing but a limited and distorted representation of the potential quality in Raw image files, by effectively running an application that will access and display them effectively.
In other words it is a question of what is displayed, is it a reasonably full and accurate reproduction of the information in the file or is it a very limited gamut that's a distortion? I would say for the really inexpensive laptops and particularly the older ones you cite the image quality is going to be very limited and distorted, and therefor would contribute to making erroneous decisions as to whether an image file is worth keeping or throwing away.
Here I am assuming serious photo enthusiasts want quality and are capable of producing quality photography. Over the last 30 years of being in the photo enthusiast magazine business I have come to appreciate "amateur" photography does NOT equate to poorer skill and knowledge. In fact when I had the task of reviewing photographer's portfolios for consideration for publication, a very good portion of the enthusiast photography I saw was often better quality image making than what many professionals submitted. So I am disinclined to support and recommend "lowest common denominator" solutions to practical photographic problems.
I just found something to be critical about on the P-4000. I noticed that as i downloaded photos, if i set the P-4000 on a surface, there is a very thin bottom on the unit, which allows it to very easily "fall backwards". I think this could result in some internal damage, or if nothing else, disrupt the process of downloading images. Therfore, i would caution you if you own or get one, USE THE STAND THAT COMES WITH IT.
A good precaution if there is always someplace to put a stand.
Another solution for all kinds of devices you may use in the field, in your car, etc., is a non-slip cloth that's got a rubbery character. A friend and pro photographer who works on location mostly keeps a piece available in his camera bag, and on the dash of his vehicle.
Another safety attachment accessory I've used a lot that's a part of my equipment kit is a roll of sticky backed Velcro tape. I just cut a strip and stick the hook side on the device and the felt side where I want the device to be held in place to be handy. Works great also with handheld light meters securing it in a handy place so always available and keeps the meter from being kicked around, dropped and misplaced.