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June 27, 2004

iPod Adventures

Before the trip to Disneyland, I bought a Belkin iPod Media Reader. It's a device which attaches to the dock connector on new iPods, and allows you to copy the contents of various media cards (CompactFlash, in the case of my D70 camera) to an iPod. My plan was to move images from my camera's memory card onto the iPod, then delete them from the card, allowing me to take many more pictures than the 96 or so NEF files that the card can store. So instead of having to buy multiple cards, and stop photographing when I run out of them, I'd just fill up the iPod. With my current free capacity on my iPod, that gave me a headroom of 1200 photos. Never going to hit that on a single trip!

So I packed the iPod and it's power adapter, and the media reader, as well as my camera an it's battery charger. First day at Disneyland I filled the card up before noon, and stopped back at the hotel room to copy the images over. Plug things together, and the iPod says "no card inserted". Fiddle a bit, the card shows up. I push the button to start the copy, nothing happens. Push again. The "no card inserted" message reappears. Fiddle, fiddle. This goes on for ten minutes, until finally I get a copy started. It is slow. The connector is Firewire, but the transfer doesn't seem nearly up to that protocol's speed limit. Another gotcha: although the media reader uses AAA batteries, the iPod must still power it's hard disk for the copy (which I knew), and this puts a big drain on the iPod's built-in battery (which I didn't). By the end of the transfer, the iPod is ready for a recharge.

Every stinking time I needed to do a transfer at Disneyland, I had to go through the same drill. Fiddle, fiddle. Detach reader, reattach reader. Remove card, reinsert card. Reboot iPod to see if that helps (it doesn't). Eventually get a connection, begin the slow transfer. At the end, plug the iPod back in for a full recharge. Man, this sucks, I thought.

When I got back home, I resolved to hunt up the receipt and take the sucker back, at least for an exchange. This weekend I located all the relevant documentation, and set things up for a test run, so I could actually show the store how the device failed. It didn't. I tried several times, even taking it to a different location, and the card was recognized every time. It's still Godawful slow, and the iPod still chews through it's battery, but it works. So I'm keeping it, but am wary. We'll see on the Chatanooga trip if it continues to work.

So for anyone Googling on the Belkin iPod Media Reader, here is the summary:

So caveat emptor, baby.

Posted by dpwakefield at June 27, 2004 09:37 PM


Hi there...
nice to read your Fiddling experience ;-) I had the same thought...I have a D70..: buy a ipod and woosh a portable HD at hand! After your disaster i think i go for the direct camera-link to the ipod which connects the camera directly to the pod...any experience with that??? here is theproduct :

greetings from the Netherlands...

Posted by: Marcel Bahnen at July 7, 2004 01:25 PM

I'm know about the camera link product, but didn't buy it since I could only really justify one peripheral for photography with my iPod. There are fewer connections to jiggle, so I would guess that it will be more stable.

If you get it, I'd love to hear how your experience turns out.

Posted by: Donald Wakefield at July 7, 2004 06:09 PM

I had the same problem when I pulled my Card Reader out of the box. But I found that if you first plug in the reader to the iPod and you get a yellow light...nothing is going to happen. I think the batteries on the iPod need to be at a min level or it won't even try to transfer. We'll see, I've only had it for a few hours so I'm sure I'll figure this thing out sooner or later.

Posted by: Mike Mathews at September 7, 2004 06:38 PM