Tuesday, March 11, 2008
Gadget Bag: Multimedia Storage Viewers
High-tech tools to keep your images secure when you're in the field
Most frequently used as a portable image warehouse‚ a place to dump image files before reformatting a memory card while in the field‚MSVs deliver substantially more functionality beyond the basics. First and foremost, reliability of the latest models has improved to such a high level that, with reasonable care, they achieve true fail-safe performance.
MSVs are popular accessories because they can do so much. These units provide a large, bright LCD screen to review images, so it’s possible to zoom in to check sharpness or delete poor shots as necessary. Photographers use them to organize as well as store image files while on the road or create albums and slideshows to share with clients on the spot. Their versatility is enhanced by the fact that they're small and easy to use‚ and much more convenient to carry than a notebook computer. Many now offer a variety of multimedia functions, including the ability to record directly from any video source. And, of course, they provide a handy way to enjoy movies and music while on the road; some even have built-in speakers.
Packing 160 GB of storage into a sleek, metal enclosure, the Apple iPod Classic is a scant half-inch thick and small enough to slip into a shirt pocket. Even so, it holds up to 40,000 songs or up to 200 hours of video. Although it’s best known in most circles for its musical talents, the iPod features a very readable 2.5-inch color display and features Apple’s patented Click Wheel for precise, one-handed navigation. It’s loaded with multimedia functions, including the ability to automatically download digital music, podcasts, photos, movies, music videos and TV shows onto the iPod and keep them up to date whenever the iPod is connected to a Mac or Windows computer. You even can play some popular video games. Estimated Street Price: $249 (80 GB); $349 (160 GB).
ARCHOS 504 Pocket Digital Media Player (pictured above)
The ARCHOS 504 features 160 GB of storage and much more. It offers a crisp, bright, 4.3-inch color LCD with a 16:9 aspect ratio, plus all of the multimedia features one would expect to find on a portable media player. It also functions as a voice recorder for taking notes in the field. Add the optional ARCHOS DVR Station, and you can record and play back regular TV and DVD movies and just about all NTSC video media. It comes with a case and one-year warranty. Estimated Street Price: $319.
Available in 40, 80, 120 and 160 GB capacities, the Picture Porter Elite from Digital Foci features a bright, 3.6-inch LCD; all models accept virtually all popular media card formats. The unit is PictBridge-compatible, so you can print directly to any PictBridge-compliant printer without a computer, and it allows direct viewing of histograms‚ a popular feature for pros‚ and EXIF file data. Unique among its peers, the Picture Porter Elite can record video signals from any common NTSC source and uses MPEG-4 compression. Another unique feature: a built-in FM radio tuner with 18 channel presets. When connected to a computer via Hi-Speed USB 2.0, the Picture Porter Elite operates as an external hard drive with built-in memory card reader; you’ll find yourself using it at home, not only on the road. Estimated Street Price: $349 (40 GB); $399 (80 GB); $449 (120 GB); $499 (160 GB).
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