JOBO GigaVu PRO Storage/Viewer
The Giga Vu PRO was designed for professional digital photographers and has features not found in the "consumer-level" portable image storage devices. Features such as: viewing of Canon, Kodak and Nikon RAW files as well as standard JPEG image files. It can decode a 6-Megapixel JPEG image in about one second. Zoom playback up to 400% for JPEG and RAW images. Displays the color channel data (RGB and B&W), histogram, Exif data and has a Dust Detector view mode to help you find dirt on your imager. Copy only selected pictures, all pictures or make a copy of the entire card.
The Giga Vu PRO can also store and play MP3 music files and comes with a set of ear bud type headphones. And it plays MPEG1, MPEG2, MPEG4, DIVX 3 and DIVX 4/5 encoded movies with controls for play, stop, fast forward, rewind and volume. The output can go to its 3.8-inch color LCD and internal speaker or you can use the included A-V cable and send it to a stereo television. The Giga Vu PRO can also be used as portable hard drive to transfer data between computers.
This is the screen shown when the Giga Vu PRO is powered up without a CF card in the slot. Across the top is the battery level and free space left on the hard drive. You can check the device settings by pressing the Settings button or View Photos, listen to Music, watch a Movie, view the card Backups or access the Device menu. Languages supported include English, Spanish, Dutch, French, German, Italian and Swedish.
(Note: All screen shots from here to end of review were photographed directly from the GigaVu PRO's LCD screen - they look much better in real life. The unit outputs video only when in slide show mode.)
Press the "Photos" button to view images. The menu lets you select View Pictures, Thumbnails, File List, Slide Show or View Dust.
Selecting the View Pictures option will display the photos in full screen, use the joystick to move forward or backward through the images. The soft key options are now: Zoom, Info, Chann(el), Levels or Edit.
You can "Zoom" (magnify) your photos 100%, 200%, 300% or 400% and use the joystick to scroll around inside of the enlarged image.
Press the "Info" button to view the exposure information (Exif data) embedded in the photograph. You can also view the camera data, file information and keywords.
Press the "Chann" button to look at the individual color channels of the RGB image.
Press the "Levels" button to display an image histogram. You can view the histogram of the RGB image or examine the color channels individually.
The "Edit" function allows you to rotate JPEG images or delete any image.
If you choose to view images using the File List method you will see a small thumbnail image displayed as you scroll through the listing. If you select the Thumbnail View then it is just like the Thumbnail Selection screen shown further below, twelve thumbnail images are shown per page.
If you select the "Device" button from the main screen you will be presented with this menu of options: Connect USB to PC, Device Info (see below), Empty All Recycle Bins, Check Hard Disk for Errors, Device Settings, WiFi Settings (requires optional WiFi CF card), Owner Info and Reformat the Hard Drive.
If you select Device Info then this screen is displayed. Here you can see how much space is used by each category (photos, music, movies), disk space left, battery charge remaining and the software firmware version number.
Copying Data From Cards
The main use for the Giga Vu PRO is to allow digital photographers to offload their camera's flash cards to its internal hard drive. The Giga Vu PRO has one CompactFlash Type II (Microdrive compatible) card slot located on the top. Most professional digital SLR cameras use CF type flash memory cards.
Other types of flash cards (Memory Stick, Memory Stick PRO, SD, MMC, SM, xD) can be used with an optional CF adapter. Whenever the Giga Vu PRO is connected to the host computer's USB 2.0 port, the card slot can be used like a high-speed card reader/writer to transfer data to or from the computer's hard drive.
The user controls are minimal but functional. In the upper left is a 4-way joystick controller to navigate menus, select photos and etc., push it straight in to accept selections. Underneath of the color LCD are five "soft" buttons that change function according to the mode -- their function is indicated by onscreen labels. On the right is a Home, Back and Settings button. The Power button is on the top.
The Giga Vu PRO automatically goes into copy mode as soon as a card is inserted. You will be prompted to: Perform a full backup, copy only photo / music / movie files or view the results of the last verify operation.
If you select the "Copy Supported Photos" option you can use the thumbnail browser to find and select only those pictures you want or press the button labeled "All" to copy them all.
During the copy process each file is shown as a thumbnail, by filename and by file number / number of files total. Pressing the "Fast" button will eliminate the display of the thumbnail image and is supposed to speed up the process but as you can read in my conclusion text below, we didn't see any great speed-up.
After all selected files have been copied a status screen is displayed and the user is prompted to Verify or View -- at this point it's highly advisable to perform a Verify!
During file verification a progress screen is displayed that is similar to the copy progress screen and shows each picture as it is being verified. After completion of the Verify a status screen like this is displayed.
USB and I/O Ports
On the side are two USB ports, one high-speed USB 2.0 for transferring data to the host computer and a USB 1.0 port for connection to PictBridge-enabled photo printers. The Giga Vu PRO is compatible with computers with USB and running Windows 98SE II, Me, 2000, or XP, or Mac OS 9.0 and above (except 10.0 and 10.1.0.) 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 throughput rate.
On the top (left to right) is the Power on/off, CF Type II card slot, A-V Out for connection to a stereo TV set or video monitor, and a stereo audio jack for the earbuds or headphones for listening to MP3 music files. Not shown is the DC IN jack for the AC power adapter/battery charger.
Connecting to PC
When the Giga Vu PRO is plugged into your computer its hard drive will appear as a removable disk. It is Mass Storage compliant and works with Windows 98SE II / ME / 2000 / XP Mac OS9.0 and up (except 10.0, 10.1.0)
Here's the Windows Explorer view of the hard drive. When you copy a card its contents are placed into the Backups folder. Copying only selected pictures places them in the Images folder. MP3 songs go in the Music folder and Movies go in the Movies folder.
Each time you copy a card to the Giga Vu PRO it is assigned a unique folder name such as cf_00001, cf_00002 and so on, and is placed in the Backups folder.
Everything that is on the card is copied, including sub-folders and hidden system files used to keep track of file and folder numbers. So you can make copies of flash memory cards from MP3 players just as easily as those from digital cameras.
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 Giga Vu PRO -- it's just the same as any other removable file device when it's plugged in to the USB cable.
The Giga Vu PRO comes with the Li-ion battery pre-installed, a 100~240V AC power adapter / charger, USB 2.0 cable, A-V cable, Stereo earbuds, protective top cover (shown above), driver CD and a printed manual.
The Giga Vu PRO compared in size to a Nikon D70 SLR. It measures 5.7" x 4.2" x 1.5" and weighs 14.8 ounces.
Using a SanDisk 1.0GB Extreme CF card I copied 292 files (a mix of JPEG, RAW and BMP) totalling 1020MB in 12:42. The Verify operation took another 13:05. These times were for the default copy and verify method with preview enabled. Using the "Fast" option disables the preview function and yielded a copy time of 12:12, not exactly what I would call "faster." You can set the Giga Vu PRO to automatically verify after copy and turn itself off for unattended operations. What was very impressive was the copy to the host computer speed - I copied one of the backup folders with 960MB of files in it in just 60 seconds!
The GigaVu PRO is just what its name implies - it was designed for use by professional digital photographers. There is only one card slot on the unit, a CompactFlash Type II slot, located on the top. This will directly accomodate any CompactFlash solid state flash card or Microdrive which are the storage devices used by all digital SLR cameras (except the new Pentax *ist DS.) Other types of flash cards (Memory Stick, SD, MMC, SM, xD) can also be used with an optional CF adapter if desired. The viewing features are also designed for the pro user and include options to view the RGB/B&W color channel data, histograms, zoom up to 400%, rotate image (JPEG only) and detect dust on image sensors from a test image. Still image formats supported are JPEG and RAW (from Canon, Kodak Pro and Nikon currently but firmware upgradeable in the future.) It decodeS large JPEG images very QUICKLY, a 6-megapixel Canon 10D image was onscreen in just one second!
The color LCD is 3.8 inches in size with a resolution of 320 x 240 pixels which is good but not great. It is OK for quick in-field review but not for critical color or focus confirmation, it would need to be a higher resolution screen for that in my opinion. I am not into MP3 song files or motion video files so I can't really tell you how well the GigaVu PRO functions in those areas, Jobo claims the unit will play MPEG1, MPEG2, MPEG4, DIVX 3 and DIVX 4/5 encoded video formats. The WiFi support requires an optional WiFi CompactFlash card not included.
The GigiaVu PRO is very portable and runs on AC power or an internal Li-ion 2200mAh battery pack. A fully charged battery yields about 120 minutes of operational time. It's compact but not what I would call "small," it won't fit in your pocket but it will fit in a medium to large size camera bag along with your camera and lenses. It isn't cheap, the retail price is $549 for the 40GB version that we reviewed. At the time of this review the only similar device is the Epson P-2000 Multimedia Storage Viewer which sells for $499. The Epson unit also features a 40GB hard drive, CompactFlash Type II card slot, plus a SD card slot and a 3.8-inch color LCD. The P-2000 employs an extraordinary new Epson Photo Fine color LCD that displays 262,000 colors and leads the field in resolution and color reproduction.