Joined: 20 Nov 2004
Location: Umm....Could it be Oklahoma?
|Posted: Thu Jun 29, 2006 4:31 pm Post subject: Portable Digital Backup--First impressions of Vosonic VP8360
|I wrote a long, self-indulgent post about how I got to the point of purchasing this that I've placed afterwards for those who want to read it. Facts and comparison are in the first half of the post:
Bottom Line is that after a couple of days of testing at home and playing with the thing, I find it very acceptable. Screen isn't as nice as the Epson series equivalents I've seen, but it is good enough, and significantly cheaper and lighter (8 ounces versus 16 ounces, if memory serves).
The device does view RAW files from my Canon 1Ds directly, but image quality on the RAW files is poor. I suspect it is using the image I understand is imbedded in the RAW file, rather than processing it. There's a very slight delay in pulling up RAW files on the screen. If you shoot RAW+JPEG, image quality with JPEGs is excellent. You can zoom, and move the zoomed image around the screen. The JPEGs pop up instantly, without the slight hesitation of the RAW files. It's a bit annoying to have two copies of each iamge to scroll through, especially when one is a bit soft. Screen is marginally smaller than the Epson I've looked at, but not significant size difference. The Epson images "popped" in a way the Vosonic doesn't, though.
You navigate through a series of menus. They work, and I'm sure I'll learn my way around, but they don't feel intuitive. Controls work fine. Build quality of the thing is fine. Equal or 95% as good build quality as the Epson. I was somewhat in awe of the Epson when I saw it, and I suspect I'm being too hard on the Vosonic, if anything.
The Vosonic has CF and SD card readers. Download speed is good enough. I used the slowest of three available download speeds to minimize problems. Downloading 1 gig of data from a Sansdisk Ultra II card took 4 minutes and 15 seconds. Totally acceptable, I see no reason to try the higher speeds. I have also used an 80x Ridata 8 gig card with it, the downloads are appreciably slower, but still fine (5 min 45 seconds for 1 gig of data).
Battery life is fine. I haven't tried the torture test of downloading CF cards until the battery runs out, but I can report that downloading six gigs of data took much less than half the battery. I've seen claims that the unit will download 18 gigs of data on one battery, and I believe them, based on what I've seen. According to manufacturer figures, the Vosonic has significantly better battery life than the Epson equivalents. The Vosonic Battery is a Fuji camera battery, fairly available, and I'm probably going to get a spare just out of conservatism.
Vosonic appears active in supporting the product, there is a firmware upgrade on their site. I downloaded and installed it. The unit locked up tighter than a drum during installation. I had to remove the battery, but the unit started up fine afterwards, and it shows that the update is installed.
The Vosonic comes with a decent case. The manufacturer website claims a "hard" case is included. The case is actually soft, but it is decently padded, and a good compromise between protection and weight and bulk. Definitely wouldn't survive being slung against a rock, but should be good enough for minor mishaps.
I watched a half-hour AVI (video) file on it, and image and sound quality were fine for what it is. Not something I'd watch at home, but it should be wonderful on long plane flights (uses batteries up, though). My understanding is that the Epson P4000 has similar capabilities with video and MP3s, and that the Epson 2000 doesn't have them, but I had no experience with the multimedia on either of them.
You can buy the device without a hard drive, or with various sizes of hard drive. The included instructions for installing a hard drive look simple even if you aren't into doing that sort of work, but I went ahead and ordered a huge (120 gig) hard drive with the device.
The Vosonic will play MP3s and has a built-in FM receiver, but I haven't tried those yet. It has a built-in game, a version of "Tetris" that is nothing to brag about.
I haven't compared side-by-side, but the Epson has a better screen based on what I've seen. Vosonic is good enough, though. I can't evaluate the usability of the menus, as I've not played with an Epson to speak of. In every other area, I think the Vosonic comes off better. Significantly smaller and lighter than the Epson, better battery life, and flexibility with hard drives weigh in the Vosonic's favor. And of course the Vosonic is significantly cheaper, though now that I've played with the Vosonic, I don't consider that the most important difference. You can argue that it's getting P4000 capabilites for a P2000 price, though!
If you're interested in how I reached the point of buying this thing, read on. Otherwise, you're done!
I do a fair amount of flying in conjunction with photo trips, and have two very long overseas trips coming up in the next year, so I'm even more interested than usual in some way to reliably backup and store my image files while traveling.
Several years ago, I had a Vosonic "X's-Drive" for this that I was never happy with. The drive worked reliably enough, but I had no way to confirm that the files were really copied onto the device. I never really trusted it, and eventually stopped even taking it along. I just got the smallest laptop I could, and took a portable USB drive for a second copy. I felt the X's Drive would have worked if it had had a video where I could SEE the files. I wasn't so much worried about image quality as being able to verify that the files were on the drive and intact.
The Epson drives seemed attractive, but I have been put off by the cost. The screens on them are certainly wonderful.
Vosonic has had devices with small screens similar to what I had envisioned for a year or two now, but I'd never felt compelled to investigate. They released the VP 8360 a few months ago with a larger screen, and I saw a few decent reports on it. The kicker was that the 8360 is alleged to be able to play MP3s and even video files. That sounded attractive since I'm looking at a trip next Spring where I'll be on a plane or in airport layovers possibly for 20 hours! I ordered one. I'm probably going to order a couple of more of the Ridata 8 gig CF cards (quite inexpensive) so I can go a whole trip without reusing cards. This'll give me two copies of my files at all times. Congrats on your patience if you read this far, and sorry for the Consumer Reports mentality!
"I must obey the inscrutable exhortations of my soul.....My mandate includes weird bugs."--Calvin
(reposts on this site of my images for critique or instruction are welcome)