Last summer at the Bronx Zoo, I overheard a seasoned professional photographer explaining his Epson multimedia storage viewer to a zoo employee. "I used to work with an assistant," he said. "Now I use this. Best part is, it never oversleeps."
Indeed, multimedia storage viewers can perform many of the functions formerly handled by human assistants.Most commonly thought of as an image repository, "a place to dump image files before reformatting a memory card—they’re much more than that. Multimedia storage viewers allow you to review images on a large, bright LCD screen and zoom in to check sharpness or delete bad shots as necessary. 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. They’re small, easy to use and as reliable as a notebook computer, and the recent crop is quite affordable.
In truth, the various models on the market have more similarities than differences. But some have features that you might not notice unless you do some digging—features like video-recording capability or built-in speakers. OP did the digging for you.
Smaller than a paperback book, the Epson P-5000 allows you to download, view, organize, store and print thousands of digital image and video files while in the field, all without sacrificing much of the functionality you’d have if you used a notebook PC instead. Despite its small size and light weight (less than one pound), the P-5000 sports a large, category-leading four-inch LCD monitor that uses Epson’s exclusive Photo Fine Ultra technology and features the world‚’s first four-color filter system to provide Adobe RGB color support.
The P-5000 has an 80 GB hard drive and built-in memory card slots. It also 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. The P-5000 provides RAW file support and will print directly to any compatible printer (see the Epson website for a complete listing). You also can transfer images to and from a USB Flash drive—a handy feature for file sharing and for additional backup security. It’s Windows- and Mac-(OS X 10.2 or later) compatible. The Epson P-3000 is available with a 40 GB hard drive. Estimated Street Price: $699 (P-5000); $499 (P-3000).
The Jobo GIGA Vu PRO Evolution is a high-quality digital album with 80 GB of hard-drive storage, a crisp 3.7-inch VGA-quality LCD display and built-in memory card slots. It displays RAW files and many other formats and can be connected to a digital projector, plasma or HDTV.
The Hi-Speed USB 2.0 interface provides a data-transfer speed of 1 GB in about two and a half minutes, which, according to Jobo, means you can download up to 25 GB of data on a single battery charge. The high-performance, 2.2 amp/hour, Li-Ion battery will keep you going through many download sessions.
The GIGA Vu PRO also offers Jobo’s exclusive "on-the-go" (OTG) USB connection, which allows you to transfer files directly between the GIGA Vu PRO Evolution and other USB devices, including digital cameras, MP3 players and portable hard drives. It also supports a WiFi-enabled CompactFlash card (not included). Estimated Street Price: $695 (80 GB); $895 (120 GB).
Best known for its musical talents, the Apple iPod offers a 2.5-inch color display and either a 30 or 80 GB hard drive. The 80 GB model will hold up to 20,000 songs or 100 hours of video—or thousands of image files. Pair it with the Apple iPod Camera Connector, and you can download images from your camera to your iPod via your camera’s USB cable.
The iPod features Apple’s patented Click Wheel for precise, one-handed navigation and is loaded with multimedia functions, including the ability to automatically download digital music, podcasts, photos, music videos, movies and TV shows onto the iPod and keep them up to date whenever the iPod is connected to a Mac or Windows computer. You can even play popular video games like Tetris, Texas Hold ’Em and Pac-Man.
One of the most intriguing features of the iPod is its small size—less than one-half-inch thick and small enough to slip into any shirt pocket. It weighs less than five ounces, but packs an enormous amount of power. The 30 GB model features up to 14 hours of battery life for music playback
and up to 3.5 hours of video playback; the 80 GB model delivers up to 20 hours of battery life for music playback and 6.5 hours of video playback. List Price: $249 (30 GB); $349 (80 GB); Apple iPod Camera Connector ($29).
The Wolverine MVP 9000 Series Portable multimedia viewer delivers 100 GB of storage, a built-in 7-in-1 memory card reader, sharp 2.5-inch LCD display and support for most popular digital-image file formats, such as RAW and TIFF. It also can play MP3, WMA, AAC, WAV audio formats as well as AVI, MOV, MPEG-1, MPEG-4 and DivX-5.x video formats.
You can read or write seven types of media cards, including those most commonly used by today’s cameras. You also can display digital images and video files on TVs or projectors. It uses Hi-Speed USB 2.0 for data transfer and includes a rechargeable Li-Ion battery that delivers up to 20 GB of data transfer on a single charge.
This is one of the lightest, most compact multimedia storage viewers. Measuring roughly 3x5x1.2 inches, it can almost hide under a postcard and weighs just 10 ounces. Estimated Street Price: $379 (100 GB).
The SmartDisk FlashTrax XT is an attractive 80 GB storage viewer. Features include a large 3.6-inch LCD screen, one-touch copy operation, USB 2.0 transfer protocol, rechargeable lithium-ion battery and built-in speaker. You can pan and zoom while viewing, and the slideshow feature previews photos automatically and allows you to add background music.
Unique in its class, the FlashTrax XT has a built-in FM tuner so you can listen to music broadcasts or record music for later enjoyment. You can download your music collection from your PC, too. There’s only one memory card slot (CF), but it accepts other formats via the optional card adapter. Estimated Street Price: $470.
The Picture Porter Elite from Digital Foci features a brilliant 3.6-inch LCD and 40, 80 or 100 GB storage capacity. It accepts all popular media card formats, including CF, SD, xD and all of the Memory Stick variations. While viewing photos on Picture Porter Elite’s LCD, you can rotate, pan, zoom and view EXIF information and histograms. You can watch slideshows of your images or play back stills and video through a TV. It provides support for a wide range of image formats (including RAW format) and is PictBridge-compatible so you can print directly to any PictBridge-compliant printer without a computer.
One distinguishing feature of the Picture Porter Elite among similar models is that it records video from any NTSC video source and uses MPEG-4 encoding for video compression. It delivers high-quality video while keeping the video file sizes manageable. It also includes a built-in microphone for audio recording. Estimated Street Price: $399 (40 GB); $469 (80 GB); $549 (100 GB).