Since the inception of memory data storage, photographers have been on the lookout for devices that would not only hold their multitudes of images, but also feature ever-faster read/write speeds and transfer rates, protect their files from unscrupulous usurpers, and withstand some of the harshest conditions known to mankind (if you've ever done a photo shoot in the African desert or out on the Alaskan ice fields, you'll second that requirement). And while you may not know what CNC milled aluminum comprises, or what an encryption algorithm is, it really doesn't matter—as long as your photos arrive at their final destination safe and sound.
These are the factors that determine which digital media storage devices find their way into the gear bags of today's photographers, and the manufacturers continue to step up to the plate to deliver. Read on for some of the latest entries in the thumbdrive and memory card arenas.
Whether you need portable storage for everyday use or a high-volume flash drive that transfers files more quickly than you can say "megapixel," Buffalo Technology's new line of USB 2.0 flash drives should do the trick. The line includes the High Speed Type E and the Ultra High Speed Type S. Microsoft devotees will rejoice as well—the Ultra High Speed Type S is fully compatible with Vista's ReadyBoost technology. Users won't have to fret over unsecure data: both drives include SecureLockWare, Buffalo's encryption software, which uses the AES encryption algorithm to make it virtually impossible for unauthorized users to extract data from the devices. The devices are plug-and-play and include an attachable cap and an extension cable. Both drives are available in capacities of 256MB, 512MB, 1GB, and 2GB.
Corsair's rugged Flash Survivor USB 2.0 flash drive line is made to safely store photographer info and files in the most extreme environments. The water-resistant, shock-proof system offers triple-point protection: the drive is encased in CNC (computer numerical control) milled aluminum for toughness; features rubber-molded collar shielding to absorb impact force when dropped; and is engineered with an outer metal tube with two end caps to provide enforcement to the hollow tube and to prevent it from collapsing when abused.
Imagine any PC on the road transformed into your own personalized workspace. Kingston Technology Company's DataTraveler Mini allows such a feat, using Migo Software technology to automatically synchronize data and keep versions current, without leaving any trace of personal data on other systems. Once reconnected with a previously synchronized PC, the Data Traveler Mini with Migo automatically synchronizes and updates when necessary.
For users who keep losing their drive caps in the bottomless pit that is their gear bag, the colorful drives (available in red for the 512MB version, light blue for the 1GB model, and light purple for the 2GB) feature a sliding retractable USB connector, or "capless design."
Lexar has come full circle with its portable drives—or at least 360 degrees with its JumpDrive 360, a "capless" drive encased in a stylish rotating metal jacket. Available in 1GB and 2GB capacities and preloaded with Lexar's PowerToGo mobile software, the drive also comes bundled with the company's Secure II software. Lexar has also upgraded its JumpDrive Mercury USB flash drive with the PowerToGo platform. No more guesswork involved in determining how much memory is left: the Mercury features a built-in capacity meter that functions even when power is removed. (Existing JumpDrive Mercury customers can get a free version of PowerToGo software by visiting www.lexar.com/PowerToGo and downloading a full version at no additional cost.) All Lexar JumpDrive products will be compatible with Windows Vista, and all the company's speed-rated drives will be enhanced for Windows ReadyBoost.
The PNY Technologies family has expanded, and this time the new addition comes in multiples. The Optima Pro Series USB flash drive, available initially in a 2GB capacity, is enhanced for Windows ReadyBoost (which helps users launch software apps quickly) to optimize the performance of Microsoft's new Windows Vista operating system. If you thought PNY's Mini Attaché was tiny, check out the new Micro Attaché USB flash drive, which measures in at less than one-third the size of the Mini Attaché. The "baby" of the Attaché family will be available starting in a 1GB capacity, with 2GB and 4GB versions to follow. Finally, 8GB and 16GB Attaché USB flash drives have been added to PNY's original Attaché family.
A flash drive you can wear on your cellphone, key chain, or purse strap? Enter Sony's new "byte-sized" Micro Vault Tiny, about the thickness of a quarter and smaller in length than a paper clip. Available in five colors with storage capacities ranging from 256MB to 4GB, Tiny comes packaged in a clip-on carry case. Tiny is preloaded with Virtual Expander, which increases the capacity to virtually store up to three times as much data by automatically compressing and decompressing files.
Have USB drive, will travel….
Verbatim's sleek new Store 'n' Go USB drive, with up to 12GB of storage, comes preloaded with Mobile Launchpad, a utility for downloading applications that can be run directly from the Verbatim USB drive. Mobile Launchpad also allows users to have complete access to personal files and data without loading the content on a guest system. Using the rugged swing-out USB connector, the hot-pluggable drive can be easily moved from computer to computer without having to shut down or reboot the system. Verbatim also provides a USB extension cable to more easily connect to a computer. The complete package includes a travel wallet, USB extension cable, and a quick-start user's guide.
Photographers can keep their eye on the prize with ATP's ProMax 4GB SDHC Class 6 card. As a Class 6 card and with a 22.5MB/sec. transfer speed rating, it maximizes the number of files written to a computer. The card is fully waterproof, extreme-temperature-resistant, dustproof, and shockproof.
Increased performance is the claim to fame of Delkin Devices' high-speed eFilm PRO CompactFlash memory card line to 150X. The PRO CompactFlash card (Type I) enables pro photographers working with large file sizes to streamline their digital workflow. Delkin's enhanced PRO card boasts transfer speeds of up to 22.5 MB/sec. and is currently available in capacities of 256MB, 512MB, 1GB, 2GB, 4GB, and 8GB.
Lexar isn't just keeping busy on the thumbdrive front. Secure Digital High Capacity (SDHC) flash memory cards are now available as part of the company's Platinum II and Standard lines. Lexar Platinum II SDHC cards are available in 4GB capacity and speed-rated at 60X, capable of a minimum sustained write speed of 9MB per second. Standard Lexar SDHC cards will also be available in 4GB capacity.
Ridata's 4GB and 8GB SD flash cards boast a new format from the Secure Digital Association that increases the capacity, speed, and performance of SD media. While the SDHC card is the same physical size as standard SD cards, its storage capacity sizes begin where the SD's end. The card features a firmware update that provides the latest firmware and compatibility with future equipment.