Today's high-resolution digital cameras eat up lots of memory. High-capacity
memory cards cost as much as a portable hard drive, so why not use a portable
storage device and transfer card memory to that drive? Portable hard drives
are battery-driven and most employ a 2.5" disk drive, while a few use
the more expensive 1.8" drive. As an alternative there are portable CD
and DVD burners--also battery-operated. While discs provide a readily distributable
storage medium, burning data to a disc is time-consuming. Portable hard drives,
on the other hand, are almost as fast as the drive in your computer. Capacity
ranges from 40GB (less on some) on the most economical 2.5" and 1.8"
drives, reaching 120GB on the newest 2.5"-drive devices.
Of course, if you only need something really small--about the size of a
pen knife--for data transfers or backup from your computer or downloads
from the camera, a flash (pen/thumb) drive is a practical and economical choice,
especially since they are powered by the high-speed USB port. A select few flash
drives are U3 smart technology-enabled, which lets you run applications directly
from them. Even more interesting perhaps is the new storage capacity on some
flash drives--reaching 8GB.
If flash cards keep exponentially increasing storage capacity at this rate,
we might not need anything physically larger. They will probably be able to
incorporate a small-enough LCD screen for us to monitor operations and even
view thumbnail images. There is now at least one flash drive that monitors storage
capacity, albeit not on an LCD. Select flash drives support USB OTG, which stands
for USB On The Go. That means you plug the device directly into the camera to
transfer picture files, without the need to remove the memory card and then
insert it into the device--avoiding the pitfalls of accidentally dropping
the tiny card in the process. This also means the drive draws power from the
camera's battery, and requires you to carry the camera's USB cable
around--there's always a tradeoff. And it assumes the flash drive
has a larger capacity than the stored memory in the camera.
All in all, these devices made an impressive showing at PMA. But this is only
the start--don't be surprised by what you see in the years ahead.
Apacer (distributed by JOBO AG) displayed the Disc Steno CP300 mobile DVD burner
($299). This battery-driven DVD reader/writer supports multiple memory cards
and features a small color screen for playback and monitoring, and burns/reads
CDs as well.
On the road, it's not always about transferring picture files to a portable
device. Many of us take our laptop computers with us, transferring pictures
directly to the computer, often for immediate previews while shooting on assignment.
And what folly that is without some means of backing up those pictures from
the laptop to an external device! CMS Products had an ultra-compact solution
at hand in the ABSmini, a 1.8", ultra-portable data back-up system, offered
with 40, 60, or 80GB capacity, with data back-up/recovery software.
Digital Foci came on the photo scene with several products. Picture Porter
Elite offers a large 3.6" screen and built-in card reader ($599/80GB);
Picture Porter, with its smaller screen, also supports multiple memory cards
($359/20GB); and Media Buddy is the vanilla version, sans color playback functions
($299/80GB). Each supports multiple file formats, and while all function as
MP3 players, the color models come in handy for video playback as well. Now
if you only want to back up data from your computer, then the DataPocket (capacity
from 30-80GB, $129-$209) is your cost-effective, portable solution.
Epson has upgraded their multimedia storage viewer, which now carries the moniker,
the Epson P-4000, increasing storage to 80GB ($699). The device boasts a large
3.8" LCD with Epson Photo Fine technology for enhanced color, detail,
and clarity. The P-4000 can store over 75,000 images, over 25,000 songs, or
about 90-300 hours of video. It supports JPEG and raw files (on select digital
SLR cameras), MPEG-4 and Motion JPEG video files, and MP3 and AAC audio files.
EZPnP Technologies revealed a prototype of their latest portable storage device,
the DM180 Plus. This device is entering the marketplace as we speak, in 20,
40, 60, and 80GB models. It features a one-touch copy from flash memory cards
(supports all popular cards), with playback of photos and videos on a 2"
screen. It's also usable as an MP3 player. Powered by a replaceable lithium
ion battery it supports USB 2.0 OTG. Priced at $399 for the 40GB model.
Media Street showed the eMotion DF-PMPS Personal Media Player & Storage
device. This device has a 20GB drive and a 10-in-1 card reader, and also serves
as an MP3 player ($379).
JOBO AG (formerly JOBO Fototechnic) debuted the GIGA Vu PRO evolution in capacities
ranging from 40GB ($495) to a whopping 120GB ($895). It features a nearly 4"
display that is said to be three times brighter than its nearest competitor.
The device is WiFi compatible, and supports OTG direct USB connection, real
raw file decoding for all major brands, dust detection, and, to really prove
its mettle as a road warrior, a floating hard drive to resist impact and shock.
With direct support for CompactFlash/Microdrive (other cards with adapter),
it will download a 1GB card in less than 2 minutes. It also plays MP3 music
and MPEG movie files.
The new San Ho HYPERDRIVE mini was introduced by the Brandess-Kalt-Aetna Group.
The HYPERDRIVE mini offers data transfer speeds up to 16MB/sec, allowing a backup
of a 1GB card in under 2 minutes, and accepts eight different types of memory
cards. The battery will hold a charge sufficient to transfer more than 30GB.
The device is also an MP3/WMA player, and features a blue backlit matrix screen.
It employs a user-replaceable 1.8" IDE hard disk ($199/20GB version; $249/40GB).
SmartDisk introduced the PhotoBank, a USB photo storage device ($179). PhotoBank
has 40GB of storage capacity, and can hold over 40,000 photos (at 800KB file
size). The LCD status indicator and the single key enable quick one-step transfer.
Wolverine Data introduced the Wolverine MVP (Movie/Video/Photo). Each Wolverine
MVP features a 7-in-1 card reader built-in for file transfers, with a choice
of internal 60, 100, or massive 120GB drive, at $399, $499, $599, respectively.
You can view up to 40 different raw files, as well as JPEG. It is also a complete
music player, for MP3 and other audio formats (up to eight hours), and it plays
movies (up to three hours). The MVP employs a 2.5" drive, which is user-swappable.
The lithium ion rechargeable battery can be swapped out with readily available