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3.5" HD Photo Bank?
  • I need to get (or DIY) a cheap 3.5" Hard Disk 'Photo Bank', ie. an external enclosure that can download everything from an SD card without needing a computer. You can get these for 2.5" hard drives (eg. the 'DigiMate 3', but I've owned one before and it failed after a few months, I have no faith in them. Most don't support SDHC either, and they're typically ultra-slow, meaning it could take 5 hours or more to download a full 32GB SD card - useless.

    I'm already carrying a 2TB 3.5" drive with important backups, so it makes sense to find something that can do the same job with it. I only need this when travelling, and only when I'm back at the hotel, so I don't need battery power. I don't have a laptop or netbook, and buying/carrying one just for that is overkill.

    Has anyone ever seen anything like it? The only thing I've found so far are 3.5" Media Player enclosures with card readers and/or USB OTG (so you can plug in a USB reader):

    That would work, problem is you probably still need a screen to initiate the copying as they don't tend to have displays? I have a cam monitor so that's OK, but still a pain. And some of these enclosures are far too big, I'd like to find the smallest one possible.

    Any ideas?
  • 19 Replies sorted by
  • An interesting solution: "Mini 1080P HD Media Player-DVD/MKV/H264-SD/USB HDD-HDMI" (

    "USB HOST: can drive external USB storage devices such as USB HDD or USB pen drive, and play or manage files on them."
    "SD/SDHC reader: Directly read SD/SDHC card, and play or manage files on TV, can read SD/SDHC card also on computer."
    "File management: can manage the files in devices connected to, manage delete or copy between each others."
    And it supports HDMI out.

    Wonder how fast it is for copying?
  • I think you will still need a display to manage the copy from the SD card ...
  • Yeah, but I will be carrying a camera monitor so I could use that.
  • @_gl

    Several years ago I used a Wolverine Data product. It worked great for the use case you describe. It's small by today's standards (30GB), but it still works. I checked their web site and they have somewhat larger versions available (320GB).
  • I think this market went dead since netbooks.
    If you are shooting any valuable stuff, I suggest to have netbook with you and have fast wireless unlimited plan to sync it up with your dropbox (or any other cloud) storage.
  • @v10tdi, these are 2.5" right, they look v. similar to the DigiMate 3. As I said, theses older generation photo banks tend to be very slow, although I have heard of faster high-end ones - how fast was yours?

    EDIT: certainly not useful for portable use: "COPY UP TO 15GB ON A SINGLE CHARGE". I need to dump 2 x 32GB (dual-body 3D rig), and I bet they are way too slow for that even on AC. This type were typically designed for a couple of GB photo dumping, not high-bitrate video.
  • @Vitaliy_Kiselev, cloud storage isn't practical, it would take days to upload 64GB over 3G even with an unlimited (and 24hour reliable) data plan. At least here in the UK there's no chance.

    A netbook with USB HD and Reader would work, but it's overkill (more to carry, more to charge, more to worry about failing). I think a media player like I linked, with USB & card reader should to the job. Of course there are concerns - a) are they fast enough, b) can they cope with a 2TB drive? Many claim to be limited to eg. 500GB - although often this isn't a real limit, because those were simply the largest drives available when they were released. But sometimes they really have limits on partition size, or only able to access a single partition, can only use FAT32 etc. And they all come from China, and sellers rarely know they details (or give wrong information).
  • I think it is really not best idea. They are very slow, and very unreliable.

    You can look for notebooks or netbooks with drive bays and get couple of cheap 750gb 2.5" drives.
  • I bought a Hyperdrive Color UDMA external USB hard disk backup here:

    The convenient thing about this device is its ability to do an automatic incremental backup on your SD cards, simply by plugging them in the slot. I bought the empty unit for $249 and plugged in an inexpensive 750GB hard disk I found on Amazon.
  • @LPowell, interesting, these are the high-end stuff, speed is listed as a very good 2GB/min. Worth checking out.

    @Vitaliy_Kiselev, you may be right about reliability (typical for cheap Chinese stuff). Re. speed have you (or anyone) used a media player for memory card copying to HD before? The upside would be small & cheap, a lot cheaper than a high-end backup unit or a netbook solution.

    When I'm travelling I'm a one man show without a car, I have to carry my entire rig and clothes etc, so size and weight are a real issue for me. My whole rig is optimised for size and weight.

  • @_gl
    I keep the Hyperdrive in the glove compartment of my car, where it's conveniently recharged by the included USB cigarette lighter power adapter.
  • @LPowell, how long have you had yours? Is it reliable?
  • @_gl
    I've had the Hyperdrive for about six months and it hasn't failed yet. I use it as a fallback archive in case any of my SD cards fail.
  • Remember that any Atom powered tablet with HDD will do as solution also.
  • Good point, I'll look into it.
  • All I need is a laptop with i5, 8GB ram, two of internal 2TB hdds.

    OS & apps in hdd1. Master projects in hdd2. Use hdd1 as source file backup where hdd2 keeps the same source files in each project's source folder. Double backup!!!

    Cheap, fast, reliable, portable.

    Optionally add 2TB ext hdd to back up the hdd2.

    If it ain't easy to edit, prolly I wouldn't edit as often as I need to. If my editing laptop has all "unedited" sources all the time, it makes easier.
  • @stonebat, sure if you already use a laptop it's easy, but I don't and can't justify the cost (or size and weight) just for downloading memory cards.
  • I don't know how many cards you need at a time. But carrying multiple cards is another options. Then sync to desktop with dedicated internal hdd for photo bank. Just let Lightroom import photos. Tag them, too :)

    If you are talking about field backup for important stuff, I don't know. I'd use laptop to make sure pictures look ok.
  • @stonebat, with hindsight the thread title is confusing, I need it for downloading hacked-bitrate video. I expect to fill up to 64GB a day for max 5 days before getting back to a PC, so let's say ~320GB total. I couldn't afford to buy lots of extra Sandisk Extreme cards for that. HDs are so much cheaper per GB, and I'm already carrying a 2TB drive for all my important backups, so dumping to that at the end of the day would be the best for me.

    I'll probably buy one of these mini media players and try them out.