VST USB Flash Media Reader
from the Apple — very tasty!
A Personal Story: Testing Under Intense
Okay, here is the story.
We had everything we needed for our first MacWorld
Expo trip. Since I would be doing reports
“from the floor” as it were I had my Powerbook
but I needed a camera. So we went out and bought
an Olympus 460 digital camera. It has good image
quality but lacked a USB connection for my Powerbook.
But I needed to transfer files from its Flash
Media card. I could spend some money on a USB
adapter or even Olympus’ reader, but I had other
ideas. Namely, I had my eye, for some time, on
the SmartDisk’s VST USB Flash Media Reader.
Because we have
reviewed SmartDisk’s VST products before,
I made an inquiry with them about a review unit.
The PR person said to meet her on the Expo floor.
You know, bigwig power lunch meeting and all that!!
Ahem … so SmartDisk’s VST booth was our first
stop. After all, I had the Powerbook, the camera,
but no way to make them talk with each other.
I could take all the pictures I wanted to but
they’d never see the light of day on the site
without a reader. The contact promptly gave me
a review unit (how is that for service!!). Would
it work right then there? It better.
We walked over to
a corner of the show hall and sat down on the
floor. As the crowds passed, some looking down
at us wondering what we were doing sitting on
the floor (yes, along with about a 100 others
resting their feet!), I opened SmartDisk’s VST
FlashMedia Reader right there, installed the
sofware from the enclosed CD, rebooted, and
attached the drive to the Powerbook. I put my
pic-stuffed Flash card in it, and, in flash
(sorry, couldn’t resist), the disk showed right
up on the desktop with all my pics nice and
secure. I just dragged them to a directory on
the Powerbook, opened them in Photoshop for
a little cleaning, and using AirPort in the
Press Room got the keynote pictures to my Expo
The Flash Media drive
shows right up on your desktop, like any other
During the next
three days at the Expo this little media reader
was put through some hard paces. I took a lot
of pictures and did a lot of transfers. I could
not imagine a more stressful workout for this
little media reader, and it passed with flying
colors! SmartDisk’s VST Flash Reader saved me
when I was without a solution at the Expo, and
the ease of use and reliability of the product
was a godsend at a critical time for me.
Spoking the Digital Hub
As portable digital
devices become even more ubiquitous we will
need reliable, fast FlashMedia and Compact Flash
Media readers. We’ll have a lot of files being
transferred between all kinds of devices. As
we realize Steve Jobs’ vision of a “digital
hub” we’ll need a way to connect the spokes.
With iTunes and DiskBurner, and a Rio MP3 Player
in hand, we’ll be transferring MP3s all the
time. Digital cameras are becoming less expensive
and better. we will be taking a lot of pics
and will need to get them to our Macs. With
a Mac as a hub, SmartDisk’s VST Flash Media
Reader is a device which will help us spoke
Media Reader reads SmartMedia and Compact Flash
(type I and II) cards. You use these cards with
digital cameras, PDA’s, and MP3 players. Cameras
and MP3 players have the largest files to deal
with. But even with a USB connection this little
drive performs very well. Its simple drag-n-drop,
just like a small floppy. We have only an 8 MB
card to use, but even with a nearly full 8 MB
the Media Reader transfers files very quickly.
SmartMedia transfer rates are 475KB/sec (Read,
max), 353KB/sec (Write, max). Compact Flash transfer
rates are 746 KB/Sec (Read, max), and 624KB/sec
(Write, max). While not quite up to USB rates
these speeds are sufficient for most user’s purposes.
SmartDisk’s VST brand
is becoming known for its flashy designs, and
the Flash Media Reader is no different. The
triangular, almost non-Euclidean (if you can
imagine that!), design is a nice change from
flat drives. It sits vertically on the desktop
without taking up a lot room, and weighs a mere
6 oz. At first, for me being new to Flash media,
it got a bit confusing putting in a media card,
making sure it is inserted right, but once you
get used to what’s up and down the cards snap
right in. A glowing green LED tells you the
card is being read. We have the black, metalic
model which looks nice next to a Palm IIIc dock
or attached to a Pismo.
there is an extra Mac users get with this drive:
iView MultiMedia. In case you do not know
what it is (I have registered and used it for
years), it is media cataloging application. (The
same streamlined version that comes with this
drive also comes with Toast Deluxe.) It reads
TIFF, PNG, JPG, GIF, and many other kinds of media
types, inclusing sound files. You can export a
folder of pics as html and iView will write the
code for a nice slide show or thumbnail gallery
for you as well. It’s perfect for digital camera
users who will use this drive for lots of pictures
— it can become confusing which picture is which
(especially since the Olympus camera I have uses
nonstandard naming schemes for the files). Well,
iView MultiMedia will catalog them through simple
drag-n-drop and you can see your pictures thumbed
in a nice catalog. This little extra really makes
the SmartDisk’s VST Flash Media Reader even more
useful. You get a demo version of the streamlined
products on the CD. You can register a single
version for $25. I suggest you do — it’s a nice
program, and an OS X version is on the way.
Note: If you go to
page you will see the newest incarnation
of this media cataloging app — iView Media
Pro. The version that came with the Flash Reader
has been replaced by this new version which
is jam packed with features. We plan do to a
separate review of this new application soon.
I have tested the
Flash Media Reader on a G4 (AGP), connecting
the drive to both the USB ports on the G4 and
through a KeySpan 4 Port USB Hub with no problems.
I have also used it with a Pismo with the same
results. There have been no software conflicts,
and the install only puts a single “VST Flash
Media” 88k extension in your System Folder which
keeps conflicts and hassles to a minimum. After
working with literally hundreds of pictures
with this drive I can say that not one conflict
or corrupt file has showed up. Solid indeed.
I have used to transfer pics from the camera
as well as MP3 files.
There are two models
of the drive (see the first picture at the top
of this article): The black like we have, and
a blue-ice one with a “color kit”
to match all your fruity iMacs (sorry, no Flower
division has done it again with a simple plug-n-play
device that will help Mac users realize Steve
Jobs’ vision of a “digital hub.” After all,
a digital camera, PDA, and an MP3 player are
spokes of that hub, and now we have a simple,
reliable and stylish way to implement them thanks
to SmartDisk’s VST Reader. The digital hub is
becoming a reality.