SmartDisk’s VST USB Flash Media Reader – Realizing the Digital Hub (with pics)

Product: SmartDisk’s
VST USB Flash Media Reader

  • Date: 3-10-01
  • Reviewer: Dave Schultz
  • Company: SmartDisk VST
  • URL:
  • Company Specs Page:
    ya go
  • Contact:
  • Price: $69
  • Rating: 5 out of 5 bites
    from the Apple — very tasty!
  • A Personal Story: Testing Under Intense
    Expo Conditions

    Okay, here is the story.
    We had everything we needed for our first MacWorld
    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
    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
    the iView
    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
    Power yet!).

    SmartDisk’s VST
    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.

    Email David

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