Vosonic X’s-Drive Super VP6210
Portable Photo Storage, Photo Display, Music and Movie Player
This unit can have any capacity 2.5" laptop drive of 9.5mm thickness, from 20 gig to 100 gig size is a good choice. The latest drive that I fitted is 160 gig. It must be the earlier parallel IDE type of sockets and not the later SATA type. The unit can be bought already fitted with a variety of hard drive sizes, or bought empty and the user can fit a suitable laptop drive using a tiny Philips screwdriver (supplied). If choosing a hard drive, then look for ones with the lowest possible current draw to get longer battery life. A few samples of brands I have are rated at 700mA but I also have other drives rated at 550mA, so it can vary a bit. Faster rotation drives will have higher current draws, and the speed gained may be ruined by the worse battery life. The Lithium Ion battery can be changed easily using the same supplied screwdriver to open a small access hatch. The battery hatch screw is tiny so be careful not to lose it. The battery can of course be re-charged while still installed.
The similar Vosonic VP6300 unit is slightly smaller and uses a 20 gig 1.8" drive. The later model VP6230 has a slightly larger LCD screen and few a few other features. They use the same basic firmware as the VP6210 but the VP6210, VP6300 and VP6230 firmware files are not interchangeable. The VP6300 simpler controls make it appear to be aimed more at the MP3 music users. These units are all much faster than previous Vosonic units when it comes to loading from memory cards. The smaller VP6300 unit gets more interesting as Toshiba are now selling 30 and 40 gig drives in 1.8" format and there's further advances in capacity coming that will probably take the 1.8" drives to way over 100 gig.
The drive needs
to be formatted to FAT32 standard and certain folders set up. The Format utility
within the drive itself will set up the correct folders. Basic
folders of MUSIC, PHOTO, MOVIE, and BACKUP are needed on the drive.
Mac users may have to delete and re-create some of the basic folders to allow
file transfer from Mac to VP6210.
Mac users may have to delete and re-create some of the basic folders to allow file transfer from Mac to VP6210.
Reads and writes and copies to and from in any combination (can copy cards to and from hard drive as well as from card to card without PC connected)... CF I/II, Microdrive, SM, SD/MMC, xD, MS and the following with appropriate adapters Mini SD, RS-MMC, MS Duo, MS Pro, MS Pro Duo. Can copy any files to hard drive and use it as general purpose backup or transporting edited images to other places as well as music, which can be playing while slide shows are happening.
Suits Win98/98SE (with driver) /Me/2000 SP3 up/XP, Linux 2.4 up, Mac OS 9.0 (with driver), Mac OS 10.0.1 up, USB 2.0 connection. Runs OK of course with USB1.1 but is slow downloading/uploading.
The LCD screen is quoted as 2" high resolution, but I'm not sure what the screen pixel count is. The text on the screen in menus etc is a bit small so don't forget to take your glasses if you have close vision problems. Latest firmware versions add the ability to display text files.
For general interest, here's James Turner's page on the new (at Jan '06) VP8350 http://www.jkturner.net/
The VP8350 has a bigger screen but still the same pixel count, but the main limiting factor for me is the hard drive size, stuck at 20gig until those 1.8" drives get bigger and more widely used.
My VP6210 bought in May 2005 in Australia came with 0A 1.1.5 firmware. The total box contents was....
Upgrade 0A-1.2.8 (DSP firmware) and V1.0D (ISP firmware) is currently available for download from Vosonic. Here's my page talking about firmware upgrades.
List of File Types Displayable on LCD as per Vosonic Data (more on firmware page)
|GIF||no details, added in V1.2.1|
|BMP||no details, added in V1.2.3|
|TIFF||1 and 8 bits grayscale, 8 bits indexed-colour, 8 and 16 bits true colour|
|BMP||Monochrome, 8 bits indexed-colour, RGB, RLE8|
|RAW||Canon||1Ds Mk-II, 1Ds, 1D2, 1D, 1D-II, 30D, 20D, 10D, 5D, 300D(Digital Rebel, Kiss Digital), 350D, Rebel XT, D30, Power Shot G1/G2/G3/G5|
|Nikon||D100, D70, D1X, D2X (?), D1H, D1, D50|
|Kodak||DSC Pro SLR/c, DSC Pro SLR/n, DSC Pro 14n, P850, P880|
|Fuji||S2 Pro, S3 Pro|
|Olympus||E-1, E-300, E-500|
|Pentax||istD, istDL, istDS|
|Minolta||A100, A200, D5, D7|
Other brand camera RAW files may display as a low resolution picture with no zoom ie Olympus C-5060.
V1.2.3 Firmware adds RAW, BMP and GIF files to show thumbnails.
MPEG1 in dat & MPG file format, Motion JPEG in AVI and MOV file format, at 352x240 or smaller at 30 fps, MJPEG for Panasonic DMC-F1 MOV files. [Vosonic once said that 640x480 digital camera movies will not display but the 640x480 15fps movies in MOV file type from my Olympus C-5060 play OK. Maybe they upgraded the firmware and forgot to tell people. I was recently sent a 640x480 30fps MOV file from another brand to test and it played OK. Also later received a 640x480 30fps AVI file and it played OK as well.]
V1.2.3 adds MJPEG decoder to support 640x480 at 30 fps. V1.2.4 adds some Xvid support and add m4s2 MPEG-4 support for Casio EX-Z750.
Follow this link to German site for clearer list of file types, particularly video files, which I have yet to fully research.
|MP3||Max 48 kHz||Mono/Stereo||16-384kbps CBR/VBR||.MP3||MPEG-1 Layer I/II/III, MPEG-2 Layer 2.5|
|WMA||Max 44 kHz||Mono/Stereo||32-192 kbps CBR||.WMA||WMA v7/8/9|
|AAC||Max 48 kHz||Mono/Stereo||16-320 kbps CBR/VBR/ABR||.M4A/.AAC||MPEG-4 AAC|
|WAV||Max 48 kHz||Mono/Stereo||Max 1536 kbps CBR||.WAV||Uncompressed 8 or 16 bit PCM|
|CD-Audio||Max 48 kHz||Stereo||1408 kbps CBR||.CDA||Audio on CD|
Both Full Backup and Photo Backup create a new folder each time within the BACKUP folder on the VP6210 hard drive. This folder number increments with each transfer from a memory card. If I copy my CF card to the VP6210 three times during the day I will end up with the following list of folders, no matter whether it was Full backup or Photo Backup or a mixture of methods. Indeed I could have copied the same card 3 times in the same session and got the same result (of course in that case and the contents of the 5 folders would be identical).
This list assumes no previous CF card transfers still remained on the hard drive.
The only other cards I have used on the unit are xD and SD which result in XD-00000 and SD-00000 folder names.
Full Backup copies the whole folder tree on the camera memory card to the BACKUP folder on the hard drive into a new folder number as above. It keeps the original file names intact. So when I later look at the above folders on the VP6210 using Windows Explorer I see the following... (on my laptop today it appears as drive E: along with the card ports. I earlier renamed the Vosonics hard drive to something recognisable).
6210 30G (E:) \ BACKUP \ CF-00000 \ DCIM \ 111OLYMP \ P6041002.JPG, P6041003.JPG, P6041004.JPG, P6041005.JPG, P6041006.JPG
Next I did a Photo Backup with the same memory card contents...
Photo Backup copies just the image files found to the BACKUP folder with similar folder naming, but with new file names created. In this case I followed the above Full Backup with a Photo Backup of the same card contents so the folder name incremented and I ended up with the following seen by Windows Explorer....
6210 30G (E:) \ BACKUP \ CF-00001 \ 111-1002.JPG, 111-1003.JPG, 111-1004.JPG, 111-1005.JPG, 111-1006.JPG.
The DCIM and 111OLYMP folders are not used and the 111 part of the camera folder replaces the first digits of the Olympus file name.
It is best to make sure your camera does not reset the numbering system each time you load a new card, otherwise keeping track of things can be awkward once loaded to the PC. I think it is best to stick to the Full Backup mode above to make sure the original file names are preserved, even though it does mean a bit more fiddling with folders when searching for images.
An example of what you may see.....
Full Backup Photo Backup
This figure above shows the result of Explorer looking at the Full Backup result in the left half and the Photo Backup result in the right half. The name "6210 30G" was chosen for the hard drive so I knew what disk I was looking at as I have a few different USB drives I may connect from time to time.
The "_for transfer time" is my folder on the VP6210 where I am gathering files in order to make the final full transfer from the laptop to my desktop PC easier. The Removable Disks F:, G: and H: are the camera card ports on the VP6210. Your system may number these differently.
First experiments - I used iTunes (free from www.apple.com) on my Windows PC to load a CD to a folder on the PC, using the input mode of auto error correction and converting to high quality MP3. Next I copied that whole album folder to the Music folder on the VP6210 and then selected an individual music file and started playing it. While playing a song, press the Menu button to get playing conditions right for you. When a tune finishes there is a few seconds delay while the hard drive wakes up and loads the next tune, slightly annoying. The supplied bud earphones are a bit crummy, but work well enough for casual listening. Fed to a decent amplifier the music has a bit too much bass for me, I like a flat response, so some tuning of tone controls is necessary even in the Normal setting, or select a different equalizer setting. But it sounds promising, next is to try even further compressed MP3 files to see how crummy the sound gets with the increased compression. Of course it doesn't have to be music, it could be talking books, foreign language lessons, whatever. But my prime use is storing photos while on a holiday and carrying important backup files, music is a distant second use for me, if at all.
Early experiments using the supplied low cost bud earphones leads me to believe that anything below 192 kbps MP3 is dreadful, you can hear digital noise clearly. The 192 kbps sounded OK so for my purpose, but if I ever use the music function seriously, I would record my MP3 files at 224 kbps to be on the safe side. I compared those files with listening to the full size WAV file copied to the VP6210. Again I used iTunes all through for all the recording tests.
Battery life test with music- I loaded up a gigabyte of CDs (13 I think, at MP3 224kbps) and then after fully charging the battery let it run with the earphones at about half volume. Took a few looks at the screen during the test to see the battery indicator. At a bit over 6 hours of continuous playing the battery indicator was red, the screen display wavered a bit in brightness and the hard drive was making making what seemed like unsuccessful start attempts.
The bud earphones frustrate me so I ought a (really expensive ha ha) pair of over the head earphones for Aus$2.20 (US$1.50) and it is much better sounding and easier to use. Maybe I should spend more than $2 to do it justice!
|Showing Results of Experiments With Various JPEG File Sizes (now I need to repeat test with V1.2.8)|
|JPEG Resolution||MegaPixels||Image Displayed at||Max Zoom||Max Image Zoom Result|
When the image displays, it shows full screen and the "Image Displayed at" figure is shown on the bottom right of the screen. Using the "+" button the zoom then goes out to 4x and the resulting zoom effect on the screen is shown in the last column. For most cameras available now, the view zoom is about 8x to 12x and is quite useful for some close examination for camera shake and focus blur. The sizes of 12 megapixel and up were resized from a smaller file in an edit program and re-written onto a CF card. With the larger files such as 18 and 27 megapixels, the top zoom of 4x as shown on the screen has display errors in that extra blue lines were appearing randomly. So with those bigger megapixel counts the maximum screen zoom cannot be relied upon.
load the pictures onto the computer using Picasa. (free at http://www.picasa.com
For cameras not shown on the Vosonic list as being RAW compatible, try saving the RAW + JPEG combination (if available) and that way you do get to see the image. Hopefully future upgrades will cater for more cameras. Of course any RAW file types not mentioned will be copied OK, it's just that they can't be displayed from the RAW data. My Olympus C-5060 is not in the above RAW list but it does display the thumbnail contained in the RAW file in a fairly blocky way, that suits me as I only need quick confirmation of which files were copied. If I want closer examination of my RAW files then I would take my notebook computer.
The JPEG display size limit was noted earlier in Vosonic literature as 16 megapixels but no indication if the same limit applies to TIFF and RAW files. Later.... I tested the unit's ability to read JPEG files of various sizes and used Paint Shop Pro 8 to create a series of files resized in the range 12 to 27 megapixels, it read and displayed them OK (see here), so I don't know what the real megapixel display limit is.
not mentioned anywhere in any literature or on their web pages, this unit
does read and write the Olympus and Fuji xD cards.
They slide into the enlarged part of the Smart Media slot.
They slide into the enlarged part of the Smart Media slot.
Generally the unit will power back on at the same point it was turned off, such as viewing images, or whatever folder you were last sitting in. To get back to the top display you may need to press the ESC button a few times.
The default desktop background image make the screen a bit busy and confusing under some circumstances. I used any old camera set to 640x480, took a black picture (leave lens cap on or into dark corner of room) then backed up the card as normal. Then displayed the black image in the VP6210 and used the Menu function to Set Image as Background. That nicely makes the desktop black. You may have to first make sure that you text etc is white or yellow using the Options item.
Vosonic supply a manual that confuses more than elucidates, it's best to just play with the buttons to learn how the unit works. As far as photographers are concerned the notes may help a bit. Music users will have to do their own research until I have time to play more but there's a little bit elsewhere on this page about it..
There appears to be various importers into Australia, the best idea is to do a Google search in Australia for 'vosonic' and go from there. If comparing prices, check the inclusions - the car charger is worth around $20 separately (in Australia) and may or may not be included in some deals. Laptop hard drive prices should be falling as supply ramps up to large demand for laptops and portable music/photo devices, so it pays to make frequent comparisons.
Specific questions about the unit seem to be speedily answered if emails are sent to the 'service' email address found on the Vosonic website 'contact us' page. Of course the answers are necessarily quite brief and mostly assume some technical ability.