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08/23/2004 06:51:56 PM · #1
Hey guys,

I'm looking to purchase a portable storage device to copy images off my CF cards when out in the field. I'll be going camping in the middle of nowhere soon, and I don't own a laptop, so I need something that will let me continue shooting photos for a number of days with limited access to power. I shoot about 1-2 GB of images a day, easily.

Does anyone have experience with image wallets/portable CF readers/digital storage they could share? I've read a few threads in this forum, but things change all the time in the computer market, so I was hoping for the latest. I'm most concerned with the lack of access to power where I'm going, so battery life is probably my biggest need.

Any help you can give would be appreciated!

08/23/2004 08:15:34 PM · #2
I use one of these,
Roadstor at B&H
there are more advanced ones on the market though.



Message edited by author 2004-08-23 20:15:49.
08/23/2004 08:35:18 PM · #3
I use the NixVue Vista 20gb.
I love the way it works, the LCD panel and menus are great.

Review NixVue Vista - Steve's Digicams
08/23/2004 08:48:33 PM · #4
Wolverine SixPac. Roughly $250 US. 20GB, internal battery, accepts 6 different media cards directly. Uploads to your home PC via USB.
08/23/2004 11:04:37 PM · #5
You almost certainly don't want anything that can display your images. That's a sure battery killer even at the best of times. I've used the tripper under the conditions you mentioned. It works as advertised and expected. For a few dollars, you can create a battery pack for the tripper that really extends its battery life. My own tests indicate that you can do about 5G of transfer with the Tripper on a single charge. The custom battery packs extends that considerably (you'll have to google for more info) or wait for me to check my bookmarks for the page containing instructions.
08/23/2004 11:15:54 PM · #6
I have the Xs Drive, i just bought the shell and used a spare 20gb laptop drive I had laying around, so it cost me about $85.

I forgot where i bought it at on line, but I got it pretty quick.

James
08/24/2004 12:13:12 AM · #7
I have and absolutely love the Flashtrax 40gb by smartdisk...I did quite a bit of research and really haven't found any of the other portastorage devices anywhere near as appealing...I won't list all the details here but check out the smartdisk website for more info!

08/24/2004 01:28:37 AM · #8
Jelloeye,
I've been looking at the Flashtrax too and it soundes awesome. How well does the preview work with the canon raw files? Also, have you tried out the mp3 funtions? How well does that work?

Originally posted by Jelloeye:

I have and absolutely love the Flashtrax 40gb by smartdisk...I did quite a bit of research and really haven't found any of the other portastorage devices anywhere near as appealing...I won't list all the details here but check out the smartdisk website for more info!

08/24/2004 11:32:08 AM · #9
Mjalvarino: It works Great with canon .raw! I've used it both with the 300d and 10d with no problems (I use the .raw with small .jpg setting and it looks great...supposedly if you use even larger .jpg settings with raw the image is better)...as far as previews go, keep in mind that it is only as great as the lcd preview screen is which typically is not the greatest in the world. I definitely don't do precise critiquing off the lcd monitor nor do I depend on it to assess exposure/focus but it helps to reassure that the images ARE on the hard drive. It allows you to view each image full screen or there are several thumbnail options...during a shoot i usually won't waste much time going through every single one but like I mentioned earlier it helps to see that the images are there.

I haven't used it for the .mp3 functions yet (I fortunately have an ipod for that duty) but it definitely looks full featured with it's own set of independent hardware controls and software! Woohoo! Anyhow, I use it soley for dumping my Sandisk Ultra 2 2gb, 1gb, and 512 cards to on shoots...just as a point of reference it downloads a full 512mb card of .rawfiles with small .jpg in 3.5 minutes...BUT it takes between 9.5 to 10 minutes for the 1gb card...and 15mins for the 2gb..so it definitely helps to have another card while it is downloading.

The only drawback for this model and the 80gb model is that they are a bit pricey compared to the others and it accepts compact flash cards (for the other several media types there is an adapter you can purchase for $15-$25)...on the plus side the company is CONSTANTLY updating their system firmware as free downloads from their website to accept new formats and add newer features. The best thing for anyone looking into getting one is to go out and read the reviews and determine what YOU need and don't...I saw popular photography or a similar major photo magazine this month is doing a full scale comparison review on about 8 different models (flashtrax happened to win by the way) The prices for these things are dropping and it still beats paying over $375 for ONE 2gb sandisk ultra2 cf! (I paid brand-new $395 w/free shipping for the 40gb on ebay)

Message edited by author 2004-08-24 23:03:26.
08/24/2004 01:26:56 PM · #10
for all of those out there that have an ipod, you can get an attatchment that will allow you to save pics to it.

just a thought for those that don't want to spend much money and already have something that will work.
08/24/2004 01:37:32 PM · #11
The iPod adapter is so slow as to be practically uselss however. :-(
08/24/2004 01:39:19 PM · #12
Originally posted by Jelloeye:

I have and absolutely love the Flashtrax 40gb by smartdisk...I did quite a bit of research and really haven't found any of the other portastorage devices anywhere near as appealing...I won't list all the details here but check out the smartdisk website for more info!


I too love the Flashtrax - it's perfect for those out of the way trips when I don;t want to carry my laptop.
08/24/2004 03:25:44 PM · #13
What's the battery life like on the Flashtrax? Let's talk in gigs. How many gigs do you expect me to be able to copy to one in the field, no recharge, from your own experience?

As much as I like the gee-whiz features of the Flashtrax (I own both a Philips Pronto and Pronto Pro just for the gadget factor) in this situation battery life is definitely going to trump feature set, and as dwoodridge mentions, a color screen is going to munch batteries like no tomorrow.
08/24/2004 03:51:34 PM · #14
In the field I've gotten between 6.5-8gb's before battery gets unstable...that is with viewing a handful of photos post-transfer...Perhaps you can get more depending on your file viewing habits...also I've been told that it depends on what media you are using and the speed of your cards. I've only used the sandisk ultra2 series which are nice n' speedy. I also have a few spare rechargable batteries in case...but for the most part the 6.5+ covers my day, at least the part where I would be out and about away from a power source...otherwise, there are car power adapters for the flashtrax as well as spare batteries. Most of the people I know that have this item (9 acquaintances) don't even carry the flashtrax around with them...they just leave it in the hotel room and download from their cards when they return (it comes with it's own power source to plug in to the wall).

As far as the monitor goes...you don't even have to use the monitor at all during the transfer...all you have to do is pop the card in..push the 'copy' button and voila...when the green activity light stops you're done! I do use the monitor during these functions, however, just because it gives you a nice full screen bar transfer readout along with the percentage...(there is also a handy full percentage bar readout for the amount of power left in the battery). I figure if you don't use these monitors during transfer you can get more transfers in. :)

p.s.--oh and by the way I was one of the first unfortunate souls to purchase the belkin media reader for the ipod...BIG mistake..unless you have hours to wait around for the transfer..and pray that the ipod doesn't lock up for no reason so you have to start over again..or that the battery of the ipod doesn't die during the transfer..etc.etc.etc. Really not worth the headache... it perhaps is only somewhat usable for small cards...under 512mb...needless to say it has since been collecting dust bunnies. :(

Message edited by author 2004-08-24 16:14:09.
08/24/2004 03:59:55 PM · #15
//www.kanguru.com

Check out the MediaXchange unit...

08/24/2004 04:13:43 PM · #16
I had/have an Xs-drive. I wouldn't recommend it.

Features to avoid:

Devices with crappy batteries that stop charging after only a few uses.
Devices with flashing LEDs for 'information'

When things go south (and they will - corrupt files on the CF cards, something weird with the hard drive) you want some way to recover from this. A LED that lights green or red isn't a whole lot of use!

Message edited by author 2004-08-24 16:23:32.
08/24/2004 05:45:25 PM · #17
Originally posted by Mousie:

What's the battery life like on the Flashtrax? Let's talk in gigs. How many gigs do you expect me to be able to copy to one in the field, no recharge, from your own experience?

As much as I like the gee-whiz features of the Flashtrax (I own both a Philips Pronto and Pronto Pro just for the gadget factor) in this situation battery life is definitely going to trump feature set, and as dwoodridge mentions, a color screen is going to munch batteries like no tomorrow.


Sorry - cant't help with gigs... but my experience is that a fully charged battery lasts just a bit over 2 hours when the unit is in constant use, such as downloading or looking at pix. You can also buy spare batties for about $70 US and a car charger for about $25.


08/24/2004 07:19:36 PM · #18
Thanks for all the great feedback, guys! :) I'm leaning towards FlashTrax, I'm gonna see if someone local carries them! :)

08/25/2004 01:37:34 AM · #19
Just to let you all know, I didn't listen to a single one of you and bought myself a 20GB Archos Gmini 220. ;)

It's SO TINY, smaller than an iPod, and I read three glowing reviews by photographers using them in extended, realistic conditions of the sort I'm hoping to use it under. It's built like a brick, and I don't mind the lack of a color screen, it'll save batteries and I didn't plan on viewing images on it in any case. It's also a nice MP3 player, and best of all it mounts as a hard drive and will play music I drag and drop to it with *my* file structure.

I'm quite liking it, we'll see how it performs... IN VEGAS!

Message edited by author 2004-08-25 01:39:27.
08/25/2004 01:45:47 AM · #20
Just to be a bit off topic here is a device that allowes you to use an I-pod as a storage device.
//catalog.belkin.com/IWCatProductPage.process?Merchant_Id=&Product_Id=173207

//catalog.belkin.com/IWCatProductPage.process?Merchant_Id=&Product_Id=158350

Message edited by author 2004-08-25 01:47:31.
08/25/2004 05:19:01 AM · #21
Originally posted by EddyG:

The iPod adapter is so slow as to be practically uselss however. :-(


Really? How slow we talkin here? I was thinking of getting one for my ipod. It's not slower than USB 1.1 is it?

08/25/2004 04:02:38 PM · #22
Originally posted by biohazard:

Originally posted by EddyG:

The iPod adapter is so slow as to be practically uselss however. :-(


Really? How slow we talkin here? I was thinking of getting one for my ipod. It's not slower than USB 1.1 is it?


I don't have any first hand experience with the belkin adapter, but it doesn't make sense why they would be so slow. The ipod is compatible with firewire so you know that it can go fairly fast. Why would they restrict the speed?
08/25/2004 04:08:08 PM · #23
Originally posted by nborton:

I don't have any first hand experience with the belkin adapter, but it doesn't make sense why they would be so slow. The ipod is compatible with firewire so you know that it can go fairly fast. Why would they restrict the speed?

I have experience of neither the iPod or the Belkin adapter, but possibly to:

- Reduce battery power
- Use cheaper electronics

Slower electronics are both cheaper and use less battery power (in general).
08/25/2004 04:15:53 PM · #24
About the iPod adapter. I purchased an iPod maybe 2 weeks ago, and with it I also got the belkin adapter. While it was in the mail, making it's way to my house from China, I read some horrible review's on how slow it was going to be.

A few days after I received everything, I went to the zoo, and thought, While I'm over there, I'll take everything for a test spin.

Well, On the average, I had about 56 picture on a 128 mb card. Taken at 5mp from my sony f707. Picture size 1.8-2.2 mb's each. From the reviews, I was guessing it would take up to 20-30 mins, and half the battery life of both the products.

I was pleasantly surprised. The entire card transferred in about 5-7 min's and it didn't use a ton of battery at all. I unloaded about 270+ pictures that day, and still had a good 60% battery life in my iPod.

Highly Recommended
08/25/2004 04:20:32 PM · #25
Originally posted by biohazard:

Really? How slow we talkin here? I was thinking of getting one for my ipod. It's not slower than USB 1.1 is it?

You can read a review here. Be sure to read Belkin's reply to an inquiry about the speed. They assume it is going to be used by folks using 64MB and 128MB cards where 5-6 minutes transfer times is "OK".

This forum post says:
I started with a full 512MB Lexar 12X card filled to capacity with raw images from my D100. I had just recharged the iPod. It took about 22 minutes to transfer all the images to the iPod. The battery indicator on the iPod looked almost fully discharged with just a little black tip still showing.

It may be acceptable for some, but I decided to pass. I shoot with 1GB cards, and taking ~45 minutes to transfer is not gonna cut it for me. And given that the HD on the iPod is running continuously while transferring photos, battery life is a serious problem.

Message edited by author 2004-08-25 16:52:08.
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