One of the only drawbacks to digital photography, compared with conventional film photography, is storage. It’s easy enough to carry a couple of spare films around with you, but if you have to carry a couple of spare Microdrives then things can quickly become expensive.
One alternative is to carry a laptop with you, but that’s extra hassle, weight and bulk; all things that photographers in the field could well do without. So there’s now a market for items such as this – small, portable storage devices that can copy images directly from memory cards and keep them safe until you get back to your PC.
The IC drive is surprisingly small and light, not much bulkier than your average disk-based MP3 player. It contains a 20GB hard drive and has slots for memory cards around the side. It connects to a host PC via a USB 2.0 cable (supplied).
Once charged (it has a built-in rechargeable battery and comes with a mains transformer), you can use it to copy images and other files from Compact Flash, Smart Media, Memory Stick, Secure Digital, MultiMedia Card, xD and Microdrive cards. There’s an LCD panel that tells you what’s going on, though it can’t show previews of your images.
The unit’s firmware, which is upgradeable, is sensibly designed to minimise the chance of you deleting your files (unless you really want to). Once you’re back at your desk, you can plug the drive into Windows, Mac or Linux systems and access the files on it as you would any other removable drive.
It’s also possible to use the drive as a card-reader, leaving it attached to your PC and accessing any memory cards that happen to be plugged in. Finally, almost as an afterthought, there’s an MP3 player built-in. Headphones are supplied, but the drive’s battery will only last an hour or so in this mode, so it’s not really a significant feature.
We’re not convinced by use of a rechargeable battery – arguably it would be more sensible to have the unit powered by normal batteries, so that you can carry some around for an emergency. But otherwise there’s little to criticise here.
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