In today’s world of digital cameras, what’s more frustrating than running out of memory card space when you’re out taking pictures? It’s the worst feeling in the world to get somewhere and realize that you forgot to empty the memory card. I’ve done it, and everyone I know has done something similar.
The Photo Safe could be the answer to the woes of millions of digital photography enthusiasts. If this little device works as advertised, I know it will change the way I do things, and it may for you as well.
The Photo Safe is not the only device of its kind. The DigitalFoci device has competition from Epson, Wolverine, and a few other manufacturers. If given the opportunity, I’ll compare them with the DigitalFoci. However, from initial glance, they all appear to offer about the same things, but at significantly varying price ranges. The 80Gb models range from the DigitalFoci at $130 to some very spendy units at almost $300!
What it is.
The Photo Safe is basically a portable Hard Drive with slots for all kinds of different memory cards. It’s got a small display and one-button operation to move your photos from your memory card to the Photo Safe’s 80 (or 160) GB hard drive for safe and convenient storage. All for the cost of a good memory card, but with 80x the storage space!
What it works with.
The DigitalFoci Photo Safe II works with the following memory card technologies. CF Type I (including Sandisk Extreme III, IV), xD-Picture Card, MMC, SD/HC Card, miniSD, Memory Stick, MS PRO, MS Duo, and MS Pro Duo. Finding the right slot for each card is easy on the Photo Safe with clearly marked slots.
How it works.
The DigitalFoci has very simple one-touch operation. You stick the card into the appropriate slot, the screen shows that a card has been inserted, and you hit the copy button. The screen goes into a percentage display so you can see how much has been done.
On the disk, the device creates a separate folder for each offload. This makes finding the images easy. It also curbs my concerns about offloading multiple times between the big offload to the computer. Since the files are separated into different folders (even if the offloads are seconds apart and the exact same data), I don’t have to be concerned about overwriting files.
Aesthetically the Photo Safe is a good looking device. It’s got a multi-colored plastic casing. The screen is large for a unit this size. The screen is backlit with a very bright green glow that makes the display easy to read regardless of how bright or dark it is outside.
The unit is just a bit larger than my Zune at 4 1/2” X 3” and fits easily into the palm of my hand. The Photo Safe is not heavy (about 1/2 pound), and I really didn’t notice the extra weight when I put it into my camera case.
I was not able to test the speed from the card to the Photo Safe. There is just no testing mechanism that I know of to do such a thing. What I did was time-test to give some idea of its capabilities. With my Sandisk Extreme III card, I was able to transfer 1Gb worth of data in 3:43. To compare, it took me 3:16 to offload the same data directly to my computer through my card reader.
To be fair, I have to question the durability of the Photo Safe. While its plastic case may look good, it certainly doesn’t scream “rugged”. A drop from a good distance will surely crack the case. Each of the card slots has a rubber cover to keep out dust or water. I believe that under normal conditions, the Photo Safe will fare just fine, however with it being all plastic, there is room for concern if something bad were to happen.
You could use this device for so many things, it’s difficult to list them all. In my time with it, I used it for some very interesting things. I used it for the obvious task of emptying my card when I was out taking lots of pictures, which saved me from having to lug around my laptop and the card reader for it.
I used it out in the woods to take pictures off my digital trail cameras. I found this especially nice. I used to have to keep extra SD cards with me so that I could swap them. With this, I just emptied the card onto the Photo Safe, then formatted the card and went on to check the other cameras. Now I can get more cameras without having to buy more cards! Wait until my wife finds out.
At a wedding, I got a picture of my wife and I from a friend, just by asking them for their card and downloading the contents to the Photo Safe. In the past, I would have had to ask that person to email me that picture and hope they remember.
Also, the Photo Safe can be used as a portable hard drive. When you hook your computer to it, it just installs as another drive. You can copy files to it and transport them from place to place. While I plan to keep it empty to use for photos, the ability for it to be flexible is there, which is nice.
I ran the Photo Safe through the ringer a number of times. I filled my card with 1Gb of pictures, then started offloading. I offloaded repeatedly over the course of an hour. I got to the 15th time and it stopped transferring 1/2 way through.
The Photo Safe did a good job keeping a charge when not in use. However, like any battery powered device, the user has to be conscious of the battery and its limitations. Ensure that you have it charged if you are going to use it.
The nice thing about the Photo Safe is that you can charge it almost anywhere. I charged it with my cell phone charging unit in my car (MiniUSB Connection). You can also charge it with any computer with a USB port.
Compared to its competition, the DigitalFoci is on the low side of the price range. At $130, when you consider the obvious upside, it is a unit that’s well worth the cost. The cost of a 32Gb card for my digital camera costs $299. The Photo Safe has 80Gb worth of storage space, making it a very good investment. The 160Gb version of the Photo Safe costs $189, which is still a steal for those who take a LOT of pictures.
Overall there is a lot to love when looking at the DigitalFoci Photo Safe II. The idea behind the technology is brilliant, the price is great, the transfer speeds are good, the size is nice, and the features are great. Admittedly I have not used the DigitalFoci’s competition yet, but for the price, it’s a very worthwhile investment. I will have one in my camera case from now on, and I recommend anyone serious about photography do the same.