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September 13, 2004

Review of SmartDisk FlashTrax 40gb

Recently had the opportunity to pick up a SmartDisk FlashTrax 40gb model to save on CompactFlash cards on an upcoming business trip. Although CF cards are down to $100/gb for quality cards, at $500 or so for 40gb, a portable hard drive system makes sense to me. Shooting entirely in RAW mode, my cameras files are large. Unlike film cameras, it's harder on location to pick up film if you run out. When you run out of space when shooting digitally, you have to dump it somewhere or edit aggressively.

For a change, the FlashTrax is exactly as advertised. It is not a terribly durable device (hard drive inside), nor is it cheap or have a long battery life, but it certainly functions well enough as a CF card dumper (takes a CF card from the camera, dumps it to the drive, optionally verifies that the files copied correctly.) It also is surprisingly good at being a MP3 player (good sound quality, ok navigation), but with the durability issue you probably wouldn't want to run with it. It seems to be able to copy files on or off at about 3-5mbits/sec, through USB 2.0.

Even the Firmware upgrade (a process which fried my Creative Rhomba) worked flawlessly. Apparently it runs a Linux kernel, and it sits happily among my Tivos in the blessed Linux embedded application realm.

Other reviews indicate a possible heat problem, and this certainly could be a problem. I operate the device with the flipscreen open to encourage heat dissipation, and on a firm, hard surface so that the small vents in the bottom can get air. It does get toasty, but no warmer than any other hard drive that I happen to touch while in operation. (The 15K SCSI drives at work get much hotter.)

I will update this review if the device gives me any problems. Otherwise, I like it.

Posted by iokui at September 13, 2004 06:02 AM