You can see the VP-300 product info at their UK-based X'S-Drive website and purchase the unit in Europe.
The VP-300 can use most any (9.5mm height) 2.5-inch IDE laptop hard disk drive. I
upgraded a laptop a while back and had a 20GB IBM Travelstar hard drive sitting around
doing nothing, it's now in my VP-300. Laptop hard drives are
plentiful and cheap these days, just pick the capacity you want and install it
in the VP-300.
The VP-300 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
10.0.1 and above or Linux kernel 2.4 or higher without a driver. The download speed
to the host computer is rated at up to 480Mb/sec (that's Megabits not MegaBytes) when
plugged into a high-speed USB 2.0 port, USB 1.1 can be used but at a greatly reduced
(2) Screw the hard drive to the bottom lid with 4 screws.
(3) Slide the bottom lid back on and replace one screw.
Before you use the VP-300 for the first time you need to connect it to 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
a format. There is a special Fdisk and Format application included on the CD disc.
When you connect the USB cable the VP-300 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 top and consist of the DC IN jack for the AC power /
battery charger, the 3.5mm stereo jack for the ear buds and the USB mini-B connector. Next to that is
a RESET button in case the unit goes "brain dead."
The VP-300 has a monochrome LCD display to tell you
what's going on. This is a data display only, it cannot be used to view images
stored on its hard drive.
Operation is very simple. Press the power button, the unit will initialize the hard drive and then you will be presented with the menu on the left. At this point you can simply insert your flash card and then press the COPY button - this is an automatic COPY ALL function.
You can also select "File Mode" to
copy selected files or folders from a flash card to the hard drive. Insert your memory card, the menu on right shows the
Device Select after inserting a SD card. Select the appropriate device option for the
Press the COPY button to begin the transfer. The screen on the left will display the
progress of the copy operation indicating the number of files copied and the per-cent
completed. After the copy operation is completed the screen on the right confirms
the number of files copied.
You can delete individual files or entire folders stored on the hard drive.
Here's the Windows Explorer view of the VP-300's hard drive after plugging in the USB cable. Each time you copy a card it is assigned a unique folder name such as CF0001, then CF0002 and etc. The two-letter prefix indicates the card type, CF = CompactFlash, SD = Secure Digital, SM = SmartMedia and etc.
Even if you copy the same card twice, each copy will be given a unique folder name
on the hard drive. You can use any file management program you want to copy and delete the folders
from the VP-300 to your computer -- it's just the same as any other removable file
device when it's plugged in to the USB cable.
The included padded carrying case makes it easy to safely take your X's-Drive along
with you wherever you go.
Here's the new X's-Drive Pro VP-300 and the older X's-Drive VP-2030 that we reviewed back in 2002. The VP-300 was upgraded with a LCD data display, faster USB 2.0 I/O and support for the new Memory Stick Pro cards.
The new X's-Drive Pro is a very handy way to offload your flash memory cards when you're out in the field and don't want to be bothered with lugging along a large and expensive laptop computer. It's affordably priced and fits easily into your camera bag. If it's simple you want, it's simple you got. Just turn it on, insert a card and press the COPY button - that's all there is to it. When you get home just plug in the USB cable and transfer the files to your computer.
The monochrome data LCD is a really useful feature although I wish that they would have used a more readable display. This one is alright but I've seen other displays with more contrast that are much easier to read. It also lacks a backlight so it is useless in the dark. That being said, any data display beats no data display, it's nice to know what going on during a copy routine and it allows you to selectively delete images and folders without being connected to a computer. The X's-Drive that we reviewed back in 2002 did not have a data display so it is a welcome addition.
They also made it much simpler and faster to install the hard drive. You had to be a little bit of a techie to install the drive in the older VP-2030, now just about anyone should be able to put a drive in the VP-300. And those 2.5-inch laptop hard drives just keep getting cheaper and cheaper and bigger and bigger - for what we used to pay for a 20GB drive you can now have a 60GB drive for the same price.
If you're going on an extended vacation or you're a professional working in the field, the X's-Drive Pro should be in your camera bag. This is a very cost-effective way to store lots and lots of high-res photos without needing to purchase a lot of expensive flash memory cards. When you're not offloading flash cards you can use this gadget to transfer data between computers or carry around thousands of MP3 song files and play them. I'm not into MP3's or portable music players but the VP-300 can do it - it even comes with a set of stereo ear buds. And let's not forget that it can be left hooked up to your computer to serve as a high-speed USB 2.0 multi-format card reader / writer too.
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