Addonics MFR Multi Function Recorder
And after the vacation the MFR doesn't just sit in the closet and collect dust. At home you connect it to your PC or Mac via USB 2.0 and use it as a fast 24x10x24 CD-Recorder/ Reader, 8x DVD player and 8-in-1 flash card reader/writer. Or connect it to the TV set in the living room and display photos direct from flash memory cards or use it as a DVD / VCD / CD player and control it from across the room with the included IR remote control. Oh yes, I almost forgot, it can also be used as a standalone MP3 audio player too.
The MFR performs 18 different functions:
On the front of the MFR are two flash memory cards slots that handle eight different types of storage media. (Not shown are CF II, MMC or original Memory Stick.)
On the right is the CompactFlash card slot which handles CF Type I or II cards includingIBM/Hitachi Microdrives. On the left is the multi-card slot that handles SD, MMC, MS, MS Pro and SM cards. If you use the newer xD-Picture card media you'll need the xD-CF adapter to use them with the MFR.
On the front is a monochrome data LCD that displays the status of the copying process when the unit is used in standalone mode. Below the data LCD are five buttons; (left-right) the BACKUP button begins a copy from memory card to CD process, the other buttons are used for limited control of playback functions - it's much easier to control playback with the remote control.
So how easy is it to use?
The disc info screen from Nero Burning ROM for the CD disc I just created.
And speaking of Nero Burning ROM software, it's included in the package with the Addonics MFR. I've been using NERO with all of my desktop PC's CD-R drives for years now. It makes the whole process of burning your own CD-R or CD-RW discs simple, quick and easy.
Above is the Recorder Information screen for the Addonics MFR once it has been plugged into your host PC's USB port. You can see it's a CD-RW/DVD drive that writes CD-R media at 24x speed and has a 2MB recording buffer with overburn and buffer underrun protection. It can write CD-RW media at 10x and plays DVD's at 8x speed.
Here's the MyComputer screen from Windows XP Pro after it has detected and installed the devices from the MFR. They are shown here as DVD/CD-RW Drive G: and the flash card when inserted in either card slot shows up as Drive H:
The infrared remote control can be used to play DVDs or control the playback of photo slideshows from CD, VCD or flash memory cards when the MFR is connected to your TV set with the included A-V cables.
When connected to a TV or video monitor you can browse the folders and files on either a memory card or a CD disc. This is the text view mode, similar to Windows Explorer.
You can also visually browse your image files in thumbnail mode just like you do on your digital camera's LCD screen in playback mode.
You can view your JPEG photos in full-screen mode, the MFR will automatically begin a slideshow displaying each photo for five seconds after you select a folder with images. You can choose from eleven different transition effects by pressing the TRANS MODE button on the remote. You can pause and then Zoom-in 50% or 100% and scroll left-right and up-down, all controlled from the remote control.
The MFR will only display JPEG images, not TIFF or any type of raw format. We were able to playback MPEG encoded .MOV movies but not Windows .AVI or Apple QuickTime .MOV movies.
The included 7.4V 2200mAh lithium battery pack makes the MFR totally portable and attaches to the rear of the unit. It must be removed for the MFR to fit into the carrying case. The MFR can be powered by the AC power supply which is also used to charge the battery.
This battery provides ample power to run the MFR for about 2-2.5 hours and can take up to four hours to recharge if fully depleted. Because of its lithium chemistry this battery pack holds its charge longer when sitting idle, provides more power than NiMH type packs when the temperature is colder, does not suffer from any memory effect, can be recharged at any time and is physically lighter than NiMH or NiCd type batteries.
On the side of the MFR are the I/O ports which include a high-speed USB 2.0 data port for connecting it to a host computer, composite video, S-video, stereo audio and a DC INput for the AC power supply/battery charger. The video signal format is switchable for NTSC or PAL television standards.
The USB 2.0 port is a true High-Speed I/O port capable of data transfer speeds up to the theoretical limit of 480mbps depending on how well the USB 2.0 is implimented on the host PC. It is also backwards compatible with the slower USB 1.1 standard as well but the data transfer rate drops accordingly.
The Addonics MFR comes as a very complete package and includes: The complete package (Model # AEMFR824) includes the Addonics MFR unit, remote control unit, rechargeable battery, 110/220 power adapter, three-foot USB cable, combo A/V cable, S-video cable, Win98/98SE driver CD, Power DVD and Nero Express software, user guide, and carrying bag.
The bottom line - at $249 this is a very reasonably priced and highly useful multi- purpose device for today's digi-photographers. The MFR is highly portable and measures 6.6 x 5.4 x 1.3 inches and weighs just 1.4 pounds with the battery. It comes with everything you'll ever need to use it at home, in the office or out in the field. And it comes with a very nice carrying case that keeps all of the cables, power supplies and other parts in one place for easy transportation. Buy one for yourself or give it as a holiday gift to your favorite digicam user.
The only "gotcha" I found was its inability to handle flash media with more capacity used than what will fit on the CD-R media. Most CD-R media has a maximum of 640-700MB storage space. When I attempted to copy a nearly full 1GB CF card to CD-R the MFR displayed an error and quit. So knowing this I'd recommend the use of 512MB or smaller memory cards and it won't be a problem. The "perfect" flash media would be one of Delkin's 640MB Pro CF cards. They purposely made it with 640MB of storage capacity so it could be easily transferred to CD media. You can copy multiple smaller memory cards to a single CD until it's filled up though.
1/23/04 MFR Firmware Update now allows the backup of flash media with data capacity larger than the CD-R or CD-RW media to span over multiple discs.
As mentioned before, the MFR will only display JPEG images. You can copy anything and everything from flash card to CD including TIFF and RAW camera images but you cannot play them via the MFR to your TV set. And we could only playback MPEG-encoded movies, not Windows AVI or QuickTime movies.
As an added bonus the CD-RW/DVD drive can be removed from the MFR unit and used in some laptops as a slide-in replacement for the normal CD-ROM drive - we don't have a list of compatible laptops so please don't ask. The drive is easily removed by pressing a slide switch on the bottom of the unit.
I can't comment on the MFR's use under the Mac OS as I'm strictly a PC/Windows user myself, but this same device is being sold as the Micro Solutions RoadStor, you can read a review of it at the Imaging-Resource web site, Mike does mention how it works on the Mac.