Transcend USB2 Photobank

Transcend USB2.0 Photobank


The Transcend USB 2.0 Photobank is a $269.99 (for 20GB, $349 for 40GB) battery-operated portable image data storage device, 8-in-1 flash memory card reader/writer and portable USB 2.0 hard drive. The unit itself is very small (110 x 85 x 22mm) and weighs just 226g including the hard drive and battery pack. You can get the Photobank with either a 20GB or 40GB capacity hard drive.

Other portable storage units use 2.5-inch laptop hard drives, the Photobank employs a new 1.8-inch hard drive and hence its smaller size and lighter weight. If size matters, which it usually does, the Photobank will fit easily into your camera bag or just hang it on your belt with the included leather carrying case. 


Transcend USB2.0 Photobank

The Photobank has two flash memory card multi-slots; CompactFlash Type I and II cards and Microdrives go into the CF2 slot on the left side. 


Transcend USB2.0 Photobank

Secure Digital/MMC, Memory Stick/Memory Stick Pro and SmartMedia cards go into the multi-format slot on the right side. Other types of cards (xD-Picture or Memory Stick Duo) can be used with the appropriate adapter.



Transcend USB2.0 Photobank

The Photobank is compatible with computers with USB and running Windows 98, 98SE, Me, 2000, or XP, or Mac OS 10.1 and above. 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.

The Photobank is powered from the USB port when connected, the AC adapter is not required. 



Transcend USB2.0 Photobank

The Transcend USB2.0 Photobank includes everything you need. You get the Photobank with the Li-ion battery pre-installed, a leather carrying case, 100~240V AC multi-regional power adapter / charger, USB cable, driver software and manual on CD, and printed manual. 



Transcend USB2.0 Photobank

The included 100~240V 50/60 cycle AC power adapter is really unique. It is made to be compatible with the power plugs and voltages in most countries around the world. Using a double set of folding prongs and a removeable "UK key" pin it can be configured to fit most any wall outlet without need of additional adapters.

It takes four hours to recharge the internal 2200mAh Li-ion battery pack. A fully charged battery has enough power for about 3 hours of use. The battery pack can be recharged approximately 500 times. When running on battery the unit automatically powers off after 10 minutes of inactivity. 



Transcend USB2.0 Photobank

When you connect the USB cable the Photobank shows up as five devices, the four basic card types and the hard drive. Shown above is the way it looks when used with Windows XP. Under Windows XP there are no drivers required, all devices will be auto-detected.

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. 



Transcend USB2.0 Photobank

The Photobank has an illuminated monochrome LCD display to tell you what's going on. This is a data display only, it cannot be used to view images. 



Transcend USB2.0 Photobank

Copying files from a flash card is simple. Press the power button, the unit will initialize the hard drive and display the menu shown at the top. You insert your flash card, press the ENTER button and select the appropriate card slot (center) and then press the ENTER button again to be prompted to start the copy process, press ENTER one more time and it begins. This is an automatic COPY ALL function. 


Transcend USB2.0 Photobank

A progress bar is displayed during the copy operation.

Transcend USB2.0 Photobank

After the copy operation is completed the screen above is displayed.



Transcend USB2.0 Photobank

You can also copy folders from the Photobank to a flash card or Microdrive.



The actual transfer times varies greatly depending on the speed of the flash memory card being copied. The original Memory Stick cards are very slow devices compared to the new Memory Stick Pro, 32x speed SD cards or fast 45x professional grade CF cards. 


Transcend USB2.0 Photobank

Here's the Windows Explorer view of the Photobank's hard drive. You'll find a sub-folder for each type of flash card: _CF = CompactFlash, _MMC = MultiMediaCard, _MS = MemoryStick, _MSPRO = MemoryStick PRO, _SD = Secure Digital and _SM = SmartMedia. 


Transcend USB2.0 Photobank

Each time you copy a card to the Photobank it is assigned a unique 8-number folder name such as 00000012, 00000013 and etc., and it's placed in the main sub-folder based on the card type.

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 Photobank -- it's just the same as any other removable file device when it's plugged in to the USB cable. 


Transcend USB2.0 Photobank

You can delete all files on the card or folders on the Photobank's hard drive.





Transcend USB2.0 Photobank

The Photobank compared in size to a standard CD.





Transcend USB2.0 Photobank

Here's the Photobank and the larger X's-Drive Pro VP-300.







Steve's Conclusion

The Photobank is the smallest portable hard drive flash memory card backup device that we've used so far. It will take up very little space in your camera bag and is also quite reasonably priced, the 20GB model that we tested sells for just $270. It is ideal for those planning on taking a lot of photos during an extended vacation. It relieves you of the need to buy many, expensive flash memory cards that will probably only be used during the vacation. Now you can shoot away and fill your memory card and then "offload" it to the Photobank's spacious hard drive and then re-use your memory card, again and again. The Photobank can be carried with you in the field, unlike your expensive laptop computer which gets left back in the hotel room (and possibly stolen by the maid!)

The Photobank's internal, rechargeable Li-ion battery packs enough power for three hours of use per charge. That's enough power to download a lot more memory cards then you'll fill in even the busiest of vacation photo-taking days. Back at the hotel you plug it into the wall socket and recharge it for the next day's use. This battery is good for about 500 recharge cycles and Li-ion batteries retain a charge for a much longer period of time than the Ni-MH type batteries used in many other portable image storage units.

Using the Photobank is simple - just turn it on, insert a card, select the card slot and press the button. An animated "progress bar" lets you know it's working and gives you an idea of how long it will take. You can just leave it copying and walk away, it turns itself off after 10 minutes of inactivity. Transferring data from the Photobank to your PC is also simple - just plug in the USB cable and Windows "sees" it like a removeable drive. You can copy files to/from the Photobank like you do with your digital camera or card reader. The data transfer is fairly quick if your PC is equipped with a modern USB v2.0 port. It is backwards compatible with USB 1.1 but at a greatly reduced data throughput rate.

After the vacation is over you now have a nice, small and highly portable 20GB USB hard drive device which can be used to transfer large amounts of data between the home and office or wherever. Those extra flash cards would just be sitting in the drawer or camera bag waiting for your next vacation and doing nothing!







Photobank Specifications

Memory cards SupportedCompactFlash Card type I / type II (CF)
IBM Microdrive
Smartmedia Card (SM)
Memory Stick (MS)
Memory Stick Pro (MS Pro)
Secure Digital (SD)
MultiMediaCard (MMC)
LCDBlack and White LCD displays working status
Hard Disk1.8-inch hard drive (20GB or 40GB)
Power SourceInternal: Li-ion rechargeable battery 2200mAh
External: USB port 5V
Battery life3.0 hours (full charge)
Download interfaceFast USB 2.0 Interface port
(Backward compatibility with USB 1.1)
Download SpeedUp to 480Mbps
Files SystemSupport Standard FAT 12/16/32
PC PeripheralUSB 2.0 Interface with standard storage device
OS SupportedWindows 98/98SE, Win 2000, Win XP
Mac OS 10.0.1 and above
Operating Temperature5°C / 60°C
Humidity8-90% RH
Weight235g/247g (20GB/40GB) (including battery)
Dimensions110 x 85 x 22 mm (4.33 x 3.35 x 0.87 in.)