The X's Drive Pro gets a smart new look
Price: £189 inc.VAT (20GB model reviewed). 40, 60 and 80GB models available. The VP3310 is also available without a fitted hard drive, priced £118.40, so you can fit your own 2.5 inch drive yourself if you wish.
If you are interested in the X's Drive VP3310, see our review of its smaller and lighter sibling, the IC Drive VP3610.
Page 2 of this article looks at the hardware in pictures, Page 3 is where you will find our ratings and conclusions and page 4 contains the manufacturer's detailed specifications.
Latest X's Drive incarnation
Vosonic's X's Drive Pro VP3310 is a new variation of the third-generation X's Drive Pro VP300. It's a battery-powered portable hard drive that has memory card slots so you can transfer your digital photos straight out of the camera and re-use the card after deleting the original files that were copied. As a bonus, you also get a very simple MP3 digital music player facility. All X's Drive Pro models sport card readers that support all the main digital camera memory card types natively. Once back at base you can connect your X's Drive Pro to your computer via a USB 2.0 High-speed cable and the drive becomes a removable external hard drive, as well as a card reader.
The VP3310 is also available in trendy white
Operationally, the VP3310 is very similar to the VP300 (below). The key differences are styling, with a revised control layout and the VP3310 has a cool blue back light. A criticism of MkI and II X's Drive models was that the units were switched on accidentally easily when carried in bags.
Before the VP3310 there was - and still is - the VP300
With the VP300, the power switch was recessed under a flexible part of the case under the LCD screen. Now, with the new VP3310, the power button has reappeared, but you need to press it and the large central copy button at the same time.
This what you will find inside the box
As standard the VP3310 is supplied with a world-standard mains AC adapter, covering 100-240V, 50/60Hz, a USB cable, driver mini-CD for older versions of Windows and Mac OS, a set of in-ear headphones and a padded carry case.
The new control layout is styled as a rounded-off square rim of seven raised buttons surrounding the central copy button. The +/- keys control the MP3 player volume and the up/down keys are used for menu and file navigation in conjunction with the enter key. The MP3 player is very basic - all you can do is select a track or folder of tracks to play and play or stop. You can't fast forward or backwards using the external controls, though you can play a folder of tracks in sequential order and repeat play. It's possible to play tracks on a memory card and this will save battery power as the hard drive can remain on standby. Audio quality is not great but it's not too offensive either.
Although the X's Drive Pro's screen is a big step forward in sophistication from the X's Drive II, it's remains relatively primitive and finding your way around takes a bit of time before you get used to it. However, the cool fluorescent blue back light is a welcome addition, though it automatically switches off after only ten seconds of inactivity in order to save power.
CardMedia, who distribute Vosonic products in the UK, suggest the VP3310 can run for as long as two hours on per recharge of its internal Lithium Ion battery. We found that the first two of the three battery charge indicator bars disappeared rather swiftly, but the third held out much longer.
Over a period of two weeks we copied about 2GB worth of images from a variety of different cards, plus test download to PC a number of times and photograph the unit switched before the the battery ran out. We estimate the unit was switched on for about an hour and twenty minutes in all, a fair bit less than the two hours claimed by the manufacturer. It's possible, however, that the battery would have gained some capacity after some additional charge/discharge cycles had been applied to the battery.
We measured a transfer rate of just 0.68MB/second from both high-speed or standard compact flash cards. That means a 256MB card of a formatted capacity of 243MB would take six minutes to copy, or nearly 25 minutes for a full 1GB card.
As we found with the IC Drive SD cards copy more quickly, achieving a transfer rate of 0.8MB/second. A full 256MB (243MB formatted) SD card will take five minutes and eight seconds to be copied - almost a minute quicker than a CF card.
This performance is pretty basic and indicates that no bus-optimisation of the interface between the card slots and the hard drive has been implemented. There are faster portable hard drives but they are invariably more expensive.
Copying from the VP3310 to a host PC via USB 2.0 High Speed was a much more lively affair, achieving a 3.6MB/sec rate, meaning a 1GB transfer would take well under five minutes.
The VP3310 can accept practically all digital camera memory cards apart from Sony Memory Stick Duo cards. These require an adapter.
Now go to Page 2 for a pictorial tour of the X's Drive Pro VP3310