|This Article Features Photo Zoom|
Multimedia storage viewer (MSV) is a fancy name for a compact, handheld image viewer that has a built-in, high-capacity hard drive and certain audio and video functions. They have been around for a few years now, and the current crop is bigger and better than ever. Keen competition has encouraged rival manufacturers to refine existing features and add many new ones‚ and the prices have never been lower.
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.
Apple iPod Classic
Apple iPod Classic
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.
|Digital Foci Picture Porter Elite|
Digital Foci Picture Porter Elite
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).
The Epson P-5000 viewer has established itself as a favorite among photographers because it’s fully featured, ultra-reliable and powered by a long-lasting battery. The P-5000 displays over 16.7 million colors and provides Adobe RGB color space support. Smaller than a paperback book, the P-5000 features a large, four-inch LCD that uses Epson’s exclusive Photo Fine Ultra technology‚ and weighs less than one
pound. The P-5000 has an 80 GB hard drive and built-in memory card slots. It has two Hi-Speed USB 2.0 ports (standard and mini), and interfaces that allow you to connect to most TVs to display images, slideshows and movies. If you need to pinch pennies and are content with a smaller storage capacity, check out the 40 GB Epson P-3000. Estimated Street Price: $399 (P-3000); $599 (P-5000).
JOBO GIGA Vu ext
JOBO GIGA Vu Extreme
JOBO AG’s GIGA Vu extreme digital image storage and viewing device is available in hard disk capacities from 80 to 160 GB. It features a brilliant 3.7-inch VGA resolution display for crisp and clear viewing of stored digital images, a transfer speed of up to 1 GB in about two minutes, a verify function for safe and reliable transfer of images, and real RAW file decoding of more than 100 RAW formats. The GIGA Vu extreme also includes an SD/SDHC adapter, and it’s the first JOBO image storage device designed for compatibility with JOBO’s new photoGPS unit. This model leads the pack of third-generation MSVs. Estimated Street Price: $899 (160 GB).
Media Street eMotion
Media Street eMotion
Designed more for viewing and sharing than for editing, the Media Street EM-PMP7 features a seven-inch LCD‚ and is easy on the budget. When connected to your PC, it’s recognized as a mass storage device, so transferring image files becomes a simple matter of dragging and dropping. The built-in 40 GB hard drive stores about 160 hours of video, so you can watch movies for nearly a full week‚ all day and all night‚ nonstop. Estimated Street Price: $299.
Wolverine made its bones with the MVP series. The new, high-capacity ESP lineup, which includes a 250 GB model, delivers even more features. In addition to that mammoth hard drive and large, 3.6-inch LCD, the Wolverine ESP 250 has the ability to read text files and features an FM tuner and recorder and a 7-in-1 media card reader. Additionally, video recording can be enabled via an optional cradle. The ESP includes a cable that allows connection to TVs and projectors. It has a built-in speaker and a high-capacity, long-life battery that reportedly will play music continually for 13 hours before it needs to be recharged. Estimated Street Price: $599 (250 GB).