Steve's Digicams


Pocket Ultra DigiDrive

Review posted 11/2/02

Addonics Pocket UDD

The Addonics Pocket UDD (Ultra DigiDrive) is a single-slot PCMCIA Type I/II card socket. It accommodates CompactFlash Type I and II, IBM Microdrives, SmartMedia cards, Secure Digital or MultiMedia cards and Memory Sticks via the appropriate PCMCIA adapter. The UDD can be used with a CompactFlash adapter or with the Addonics 4in1 DigiAdapter that handles SM, SD, MMC and MS media.

The Addonics UDD can be purchased with either a USB 2.0 (up to 480Mbits/sec) or FireWire IEEE 1394 (up to 400Mbits/sec) interface. The USB 2.0 interface is backwards compatible to USB 1.1 standards. It's a true Plug & Play / hot swappable device with Windows ME or XP.

The Ultra DigiDrive is compatible with computers with USB and running Windows 98SE, Me, 2000, XP, Mac OS X (USB 1.1 only), Linux kernel 2.4 or higher. It is powered from the interface port (or optional AC/DC power adapter) and comes with a 3-foot interface cable. The unit itself is very small (4.6 x 5.4 x 0.98 inches) and highly portable.

Addonics Pocket UDD

The card slot on the Pocket UDD will appear as removable drive so you can easily move data between the flash card or Microdrive to your hard drive. Shown here in the "My Computer" folder as removable disk F. There is -no- difference between accessing files on your hard drive or a card inserted into the Pocket UDD, you can use any file management utility to copy or delete them.

The installation was quick and easy on my Pentium 4 2000MHz machine running Windows XP Pro. No drivers were needed, I just plugged it in and after about thirty seconds Windows had finished the usual "detecting new hardware" routine and it was ready to be used.

Addonics Pocket UDD

The optional CompactFlash Type I/II adapter accomodates any solid state CF card, Type I or II or Microdrive. PC Type I and II cards and hard drives can be read without any adapter whatsoever.

Addonics Pocket UDD

The $49 Addonics 4in1 DigiAdapter handles Secure Digital, MultiMedia Cards, SmartMedia and Memory Sticks. When you're not using it in your Pocket UDD it works great in any laptop with a PCMCIA slot too.

Addonics Pocket UDD

The I/O connector is non-standard and allows Addonics to easily supply either the USB or FireWire interface cable depending on which model it is. The data throughput is rated at up to 480Mbits/sec on the USB 2.0 model that I tested. The actual transfer rate is dependant on your computers processor speed and more importantly, the speed of the flash memory device being accessed. Secure Digital, MMC and Memory Stick cards are somewhat slow whereas CF cards like Lexar 16x or 24x Pro cards are very fast.

Here's some "real world" transfer from tests:

MediaFile Size
(mixed JPGs)
Transfer Time
1GB IBM Microdrive 949MB4:25
320MB Lexar 16x CF303MB1:11
512MB Lexar 24x CF430MB1:10
128MB Delkin SmartMedia120MB0:35

Why use an external card reader rather than using the USB that's built in to your camera? The main reason is so you don't run your camera batteries down while transferring all that data. It also doesn't tie up the camera while downloading images, just pop in another card and keep shooting. USB 2.0 card readers are much faster than the camera's builtin USB port which makes a big difference if you're using a large CF card or a one-gigabyte Microdrive.

The bottom line - The Addonics Pocket UDD is reasonably priced at $69, it is incredibly fast when used with a full-speed USB 2.0 interface and a fast memory card. For $89 you can purchase the Pocket UDD with a FireWire IEEE 1394 interface instead of USB 2.0. The CF or CF I/II adapter must be purchased seperately. Another $50 will get you the 4in1 DigiAdapter if you need to read/write to SM, MS, SD or MMC cards. Note that we haven't yet seen the PCMCIA adapter for the new xD-Picture cards that Fuji and Olympus just started using.

I had no problems unplugging and plugging it back in with the computer running so it is a real "hot swappable" device. It has no compatibility problems and works flawlessly with CF cards from 8MB to 1GB, 1GB Microdrive, 64MB, 128MB and 256MB MMC and Secure Digital, 8MB to 128MB SmartMedia cards and 8MB to 128MB Memory Sticks.

If you'd like to buy one then visit the Addonics web site

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