The VP-2030 can use any capacity (9.5mm height) 2.5-inch IDE laptop hard disk drive. I
upgraded my Sony VAIO ten months back and had a 20GB IBM hard drive sitting in my closet
doing nothing. It's now the heart of my VP-2030. For many users a 6GB or 10GB size drive
will be plenty and I've seen them for as little as $50-100 on the net. So..for $200 or
less you can have a completely portable image storage unit that also functions as a 6-in-1
flash card reader when your home.
The VP-2030 is compatible with computers with USB and running Windows 98SE, Me, 2000 with
drivers supplied or XP without a driver, Mac OS 8.6 - 9.0 with drivers supplied or Mac OS
X or Linux kernel 2.4 or higher without a driver. The download speed
is rated at up to 3.84Mb/sec which is considerably slower than the theoretical
maximum of 12Mb/s for a USB 1.1 interface.
Remove two screws on the bottom and open the unit up.
The two Li-ion rechargeable batteries are behind that green panel.
Place your hard drive on top of the unit, plug in the cable.
Affix the hard drive with the 4 screws provided.
Replace bottom cover with two screws and you're done!
Before you use the VP-2030 for the first time you need to plug it into the host
computer and perform a FORMAT on the hard disk. It's possible that you might not need
to do this if your drive was already in use in a laptop but a new drive will require
When you connect the USB cable the VP-2030 shows up as four removable devices, the three card slots and the hard drive. Shown above is the way it looks when used with Windows 98SE and the provided drivers. When viewed in My Computer you will find the removable drives labeled with icons. Under Windows XP there are no drivers required, all devices will be auto-detected but unfortunately they are not labeled.
These removable drives allow you to easily move data between the flash card(s) or internal
hard drive to your host computer's hard drive. You can use any file management utility to
copy or delete your data files.
The I/O connectors are on the side and consist of the DC IN jack for the AC power
adapter / battery charger. In the center is the USB 1.1 connector. Next to that is a
RESET button in case the unit goes "brain dead."
Unlike other portable image devices the VP-2030 does not use a LCD display to tell you what's going on. What it uses is a lot of LED indicators. Across the top are red LEDs to indicate power, error, recharge and low battery. The green LEDs on the bottom indicate activity of the card reader slots or internal hard drive. When copying from a flash card all of the LEDs blink in sequence until the transfer process is completed.
All you do is turn the unit on, insert a flash card and press the COPY button. You can have up to 999 folders on the hard drive which are created automatically and named to correspond to the card media that was used and numerically incremented (i.e. CF0001, MS0001, SM0001, SD0001 etc.).
The VP-2030 does not delete your images from the flash card after transfer, you must use your camera's delete or format option after you put the card back in the camera. The VP-2030 lacks any kind of verify function after the transfer is completed. If it encounters an error during transfer it will illuminate the error LED. This LED is also illuminated if the hard drive becomes full. We encountered no problems during download from a variety of card media or during downloads from the VP-2030 to our host computer.
NOTE: There is always the potential risk for loss of
data without verification so I can't recommend this device for professional users.
Steve's ConclusionThe X'S-Drive VP-2030 is reasonably priced at $87 and by adding a hard drive for $100 or less this gives you a complete and portable image storage unit for less than $200. When not using it out in the field it can serve as a 6-in-1 flash card reader / writer. You can also use it like any external USB hard drive and copy data back and forth between computers.
The unit is well made and should hold up reasonably well in portable use thanks to a nice padded carrying case. As with all things that use hard disk drives - most of the risk of damage is during use when the hard drive is actually running. When it's turned off the hard disk is automatically "parked" and able to withstand considerable G-force. For archival permanence it is highly suggested that you offload the data to a host PC and burn it on a CD.
The VP-2030 is ideal if you're going on vacation and don't want to buy a lot of flash memory cards or drag along an expensive laptop that might get stolen out of your rental car or hotel room. The only problem is that I don't know how long these units will be available -- if you want one then don't hesitate, buy it now.
As we stated previously, the VP-2030 lacks a "verify" function after data transfer from flash cards. Although we encountered no errors during actual use there is always the risk of possible data loss so we don't recommend this product for professional users. Other portable storage devices with data verification that we have reviewed are:
|Memory card interfaces||
CompactFlash Card type I or II
Secure Digital Card
|Hard drive size||2.5 inch IDE, 9.5mm max height|
|Hard drive capacity||Unlimited, any capacity|
Internal: Li-ion rechargeable 3.6v x 2 (720mA)
External: 12VDC adapter (1500mA)
|Power supply||9V to 18V, working 12V (360mA) / standby 175mA|
|Rechargeable battery life||Approx. 2.5 hours (full charge)|
|Data interface||USB 1.1 interface|
|Download speed||Up to 3.84Mb/sec|
|File system||Supports standard FAT 12 / 16 / 32|
Windows 98/98SE, Win 2000 (with driver)
Windows XP - no driver required
Linux Kernel 2.4 or above w/out driver
Mac OS 8.6 - 9.0 (with driver)
Mac OS 10.01 and above w/out driver
Temperature: 0°C - 70°C
Humidity: 90% RH
|Weight||10.1 oz (288g) including HDD and battery|
|Dimensions (LWH)||5.5 x 3.2 x 1.1 inches|
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