MediaGear HD To Go Portable Photo Backup Review

These days everyone and their mother has a digital camera, people are snap happy, and with no expensive film to purchase or process, why not! This is great news for companies such as Lexar and SanDisk, they sell the media to store all your good memories. But what happens when you are on your vacation and you fill both your 512MB compact flash cards and there is no Best Buy around the corner? You need a portable storage solution! This is just what MediaGear is offering; a multi gigabyte portable storage drive with support for 9 different memory cards.

The MediaGear Flash HD To Go features a 2.5-inch hard drive with capacities of 20, 40 and 60 gigabytes, all housed in a brushed metal looking housing with a greyscale LCD screen. It has input slots for 9 different types of flash media cards and can double as a PC card reader. The supported media formats include:

— Compact Flash Type I (CF)
— Compact Flash Type II (CF)
— Microdrive
— Memory Stick (MS)
— Memory Stick Pro
— SmartMedia (SM)
— Secure Digital (SD)
— MultiMediaCard (MMC)
— xD-Picture Card (xD)

The Flash HD To Go is compatible with both PC and MAC operating systems. No word on Linux support, but I’d suspect it would work fine since it just acts as a flash drive.

First Impressions

My first impressions of the media gear were; boxy, light, and hollow. The unit is designed around a hard drive, so that explains the boxy look. The weight is a definite plus; you can carry this device around in your camera bag and it won’t slow you down. As for the hollow feeling, they could have cut down on the size of the device, or put some type of shock proof mold around the hard drive, there seems to be a lot of free space in there.

Interface

As for the interface, the MediaGear has an LCD screen with only 3 buttons; power on, Sel (select) and Copy. To copy photos from a flash media card just plug the card into the correct spot, hit select and then copy. Simple as 1-2-3! Once you hit copy the media card starts copying and a percentage (%) indicator shows how much data has been copied. The bigger the cards and the slower the media speed, the longer they will take.

One major draw back is that you can’t actually see how much storage is left on the device; this will surely lead to problems when you get close to capacity and have a large amount of data to write. You also can’t verify what data has been written, nor do you have a choice of which data to write onto the device off of the card. If it had some type of file viewing menu or at least a megabytes left indicator, it may appeal to some pros, but at this point I would only recommend it for point and shoot fun.

Regardless, that’s not what this device is advertised to do, if you would like something with those features you will need to go with another device such as the iPod Photo (once a digital camera connector gets released) or an Epson P-2000 Multimedia Storage Viewer, but these sell for much much more. The Flash HD To Go is advertised as a storage device and nothing more.

We ran into a problem when our Flash HD To Go ran out of juice while we were writing a large amount of data off a Hitachi 4GB MicroDrive (yes, ripped from the Muvo2). When we inspected the contents of the device by connecting it to a computer, we noticed that it kept the data that it recorded, which is good, but you have no way of knowing what data was written unless you connect it to a computer, nor can you delete the bad write.

As for the battery itself, it sports an internal battery which is recharged through an AC power cord. This could pose a problem when you don’t have access to a power outlet for an extended period of time, but on the other hand, batteries are also expensive and bulky. The battery indicator on the LCD screen doesn’t accurately depict the remaining power; we saw it fluctuate up and down between 1 and 3 bars, depending on what you were doing.

Performance

The device is a USB 2.0 High-Speed device capable of high transfer speeds. We put it that to the test!

Average Read Speed: 13.7 MB/s
Average Write Speed: 11.7 MB/s
Average Access Tim: 20.7 ms

HD Tach Review Writer Edition
Test Setup: AMD 2500+, Asus A7N8X Deluxe (NForce2 Chipset), 512 MB OCZ PC3700, Maxtor 6 Y200MO 200GB.

The Flash HD To Go meets the speed specifications. With these speeds you can effectively use this drive as an external storage solution for your PC or MAC. In addition, you can also use the device as a flash media card reader for your PC. Just flip the little switch on the side from HD to CF and like magic, a 9 card reader!

The Guts

We stripped down the device and voided our warranty by peeling the warranty sticker off the device. When we screwed off the rear cover of the device we found a 20GB 2.5-inch Fujitsu drive connected by a Small ATA cable without a power connector. This leads us to believe that as 2.5” drives become cheaper in price we should be able to upgrade the device if needed. On the front of the drive we found the guts of the device, the LCD screen and the flash readers.

The Flash HD To Go does precisely what it claims to do, and it does it great. During my first impressions I thought the device would be void of features due to the lack of buttons, but the device is simple. It stores your photos without the use of a PC. Perfect for storage on the go!

Pros

- Easy to use
- Light and portable
- Acts as a backup drive for your PC
- Large capacity
- Fits all types of media

Cons

- If battery looses charge during transfer, transfer fails, no way to tell what data was written unless hooked up to PC
- Cannot see contents without PC
- Battery indicator not accurate
- No free space indicator

The MediaGear Flash HD To Go is available to order now on MediaGear’s website. The pricing is as follows:

Flash-HD to go! (20GB) MGHG-120 $189.99
Flash-HD to go! (40GB) MGHG-140 $239.99
Flash-HD to go! (60GB) MGHG-160 $289.99

The device comes with a USB transfer cable, a leather carrying case, xD picture card adapter and an AC power adapter.

The MediaGear Flash HD To Go stores your pictures from your Flash Camera Cards without the need for a PC. It’s high portability, large capacity, and fast read/write speeds make this device a winner.


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One Comment

  1. Berna says:

    i need a driver for windows vista to use thi media gear

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