The X's Drive Pro's smaller and lighter sibling
Price: £199 inc.VAT (20GB model)
On this page of the review we examine the IC Drive from a functional point of view. Page 2 has a pictorial tour of the IC Drive and conclusions and ratings can be found on page 3. Finally, on page 4 you will find detailed manufacturer specifications.
The Vosonic IC Drive VP3610 is the latest evolution of the Vosonic X's Drive Pro portable digital photo storage device. You can insert your memory card into one of the IC Drive's slots, press a button and the card's contents will be copied to the IC Drive's internal hard disk so you can format the card and re-use it. Unlike some solutions, the IC Drive doesn't have an colour screen for viewing images, which helps keep the price down.
Functionally, it's very similar to the Vosonic X's Drive Pro but instead of a 2.5 inch hard disk, the standard size for most laptop computers, the IC Drive uses a 1.8 inch drive. This enables the IC Drive to be a lot more compact and lightweight than the X's Drive Pro.
We measured the weight of the IC Drive at 210 grams, more than a third less than the X's Drive Pro. Including its standard carry case and AC power adapter, the package weight is 478g. Like the X's Drive Pro, a basic MP3 audio/music player is built-in.
Above the IC Drive is pictured next the larger X's Drive Pro VP3310
You will find memory card slots on both sides of the IC Drive and the unit accepts all the commonly used card types without the need for an adapter: SmartMedia, Compact Flash I&II (including Microdrives), SD/MMC, Sony Memory Stick and Memory Stick Pro and Extreme Digital (xD). Sony Memory Stick Duo require a Memory Stick adapter, but if you have one of these cards you will probably have the adapter already.
This is what you will find inside the box
External hard drive/card reader
When plugged in to a computer via the supplied USB cable, the unit behaves like an external hard disk drive plus three additional drives, just like a card reader, one for each of the IC Drive's three card slots. Two of the slots are multi-standard: either Memory Stick or SD/MMC cards share one slot and the other is shared between SmartMedia and xD cards. It is possible to copy between any two cards or between a card and the hard drive using the host computer. Older versions of Mac OS or Windows will require supplied drivers to be installed from a CD, but Mac OS 10 and Windows ME and XP will recognise the unit automatically without the need for additional drivers.
Our review sample was fitted with a 20GB hard disk formatted to a capacity of 19,990,000,000 bytes or 18.6GB. This will store, for example, over 5,000 high quality 6MP JPEG images of between 3 and 3.5MB in size. A 40GB version is also available.
File navigation is aided by a two inch monochrome LCD screen. Unlike the X's Drive Pro models, the screen is not back-lit. Although the IC Drive isn't branded as an 'X's Drive', its control button layout is stylised in the shape of an 'X'.
In this main cluster there are seven buttons: power (which needs to be pressed at the same time as the copy button to switch the unit on), up/down, copy, pause, stop and enter.
At the top of the unit are volume up/down buttons for the MP3 player. I found finding and selecting files to be quite difficult at first. The screen user-interface is very basic and rather unintuitive. But with practise you will get used to it.
It's very simple to copy the entire contents of a memory card to the IC Drive. All you do is insert the card, ensure that the drive is in AutoCopy mode, which is the default anyway and then press the copy button. A new folder is created on the IC Drive to contain the folders and files to be copied. The folder name identified which card slot was used and the folder name is incremented numerically each time a new copy is made. Single files can be copied, but you can't select a number of specific files to be copied individually.
Copying image files from a card to the IC Drive resulted in a transfer rate of between 0.62 and 0.74MB/second:
- MMC card – 107MB transferred in 224 seconds = 0.48MB/sec
- SD card - 70.5MB transferred in 91 seconds = 0.75MB/sec
- TDK CF card - 224MB transferred in 330 seconds = 0.68MB/sec
- SanDisk Ultra II CF 477MB transferred in 700 seconds = 0.68MB/sec
What's interesting here is that transferring from a high performance 1GB SanDisk Ultra II CF card proved to be slightly slower than from a standard 256MB SD card. If the 1GB Sandisk card had been full, it would have taken 25 minutes to copy. A standard performance CF card achieved an identical transfer rate to the Ultra II card.
Transfer to PC via USB 2.0 High Speed to A Windows XP PC achieved a typical transfer rate of 3.8MB/second, or under five minutes per gigabyte.
Very basic MP3 player functionality is included and a set of quite stylish in-ear headphones is supplied. However, the IC Drive is not an alternative to an iPod - all you can do is play and pause tracks, there is no fast forward or rewind control, though you can select a folder of tracks to be played one after another and there is a repeat function.
An internal lithium ion rechargeable battery can power the IC Drive for just under an hour, which is rather tight if you expect to need to copy two 1GB CF cards, taking about 50 minutes in total, without recharging. If using the MP3 player function in conjunction with a memory card, the battery life extends to about two hours.
UK distributor, CardMedia, provides a number of external power options, including external battery packs and cigarette lighter adapters. The IC Drive's own battery doesn't appear to be user-replaceable. A 50/60Hz 100-240V AC mains adapter is provided for charging and this will work in practically any country.
The IC Drive comes supplied with a good quality carry case with a strap to secure the unit from accidentally falling out.
There is also a fold-down card wallet and a net pocket for storing odds and ends.
On page 2, we look at the IC Drive close-up.
Check the price of the Vosonic IC Drive