Hard Drives With Pizzazz: Media and More

Photo viewers, multimedia playback, memory card transfers--these hard disk drives do more than just sit on your desk and store your digital stuff.

Epson P-7000 Multimedia Photo Viewer

The Epson P-7000 and P-6000 remain the class of the field of photographer's companions. This drive has gorgeous, 640-by-480 resolution and a 4-inch screen that displays 16.7 million colors and supports 94 percent of Adobe RGB color space. It downloads cards fast, and its interface is easy to navigate. The P-7000 packs a 160GB hard disk drive, while the P-6000 comes with an 80GB hard drive; both models can be attached to a Mac or PC for use as an external hard disk drive.

NextoDI Nexto Extreme ND2700

This hard drive's inherent elegance comes from its simplicity: Press the single button in the upper right corner to turn it on, press again to activate a copy from a memory card (CompactFlash, SD and SDHC, xD, Memory Stick). Not only is this device one of the fastest around (a 1GB CompactFlash card transfers in about 40 seconds), but it packs an eSATA port, too, for super-speedy data transfers from the Nexto Extreme back to your PC. Another boon: This drive has a verify function to check the integrity of the data transferred from card.

Jobo Giga One

Another drive aimed squarely at photographers, the Jobo Giga One Ultra combines an up to 200GB hard drive with media card slots and an LCD screen for displaying transfer status. Transfer pictures from card (including CompactFlash and SDHC) to hard drive with the push of a button; it's rated to copy at up to 5.5MB per second. The drive works as an external hard drive, too, for both Macs and PCs.

Jobo Giga Vu Extreme

Another device aimed at photo-hounds, the Jobo Giga Vu Extreme packages a 3.7-inch LCD with a hard drive (80GB to 160GB) and card slots. The Giga Vu Extreme does far more than just copy images from card to disk: It has TV-out, can create on-the-fly slideshows with music, plays movies and music (it supports MP3, MPEG-1, MPEG-2, and MPEG-4 files), and lets you directly attach USB On-the-Go-capable devices like digital cameras, printers, and MP3 players.

Digital Foci Picture Porter 35

The forthcoming Digital Foci Picture Porter 35 PPR-350 bills itself as a portable photo manager, with a 3.5-inch color LCD and built-in hard disk drive, up to 160GB capacity. The photo management aspect comes from this device's built-in multiformat memory card reader, and its capability to copy, rename, and delete files directly on the device. You can also sort files by name or date, and create new folders on the fly--a boon to photographers on the go. Another benefit: This model supports RAW images, EXIF and histogram data, and IPTC metadata support.

Clickfree Portable Backup Storage Appliance

The promise of easy backup is rarely fulfilled, but the Clickfree Portable Backup Storage Appliance, which makes backup notably supereasy, achieves that goal. Connect this $180 320GB USB drive (also available in 120GB and 250GB capacities, with up to 500GB coming sometime in 2009) to your Windows PC, and it will back up your data files, including your music, movies, pictures, and e-mail. The drive's built-in backup software kicks in as soon as you attach the drive to your PC; the software supports up to 350 file types. In the software, press the Restore button, and the drive will return data to its original location.

Buffalo LinkStation Mini

Buffalo is the only drive maker to offer a portable network-attached storage drive. The LinkStation Mini packs two 2.5-inch hard drives inside, and it measures a little more than double the size of any other portable USB product that holds a 2.5-inch drive. Available in 500GB and 1TB capacities, the LinkStation Mini has no fans and contains a DLNA-compatible media server, which makes it a great addition to an entertainment setup. The unit can also handle RAID 0 and RAID 1, and it supports Active Directory, features that boost this model's appeal to offices, as well. Latest prices

Iogear Portable Media Server GMD2025U120

The Iogear Portable Media Server GMD2025U120 isn't your typical portable external hard drive. This diminutive $350 device--about the size of a stack of index cards--stores 120GB of data, but also supports playback via your TV. It features component and composite video output, composite audio output, and an array of media playback controls on the unit itself along with a remote control. Its small size--3.2-by-5.25-by-0.75 inches--makes it easy to take your media collection wherever you go, so you can show your friends the latest video of your cats without having to crowd around a laptop or portable media player screen. Also available: Iogear's Portable Media Enclosure ($290), which gives you the same media playback features, but lets you insert your own hard drive into the unit.

Iomega ScreenPlayHD

As its name might suggest, the $180 Iomega ScreenPlayHD multimedia hard drive can do more than give you plenty of room for backups and additional storage--it doubles as a media playback device for your TV. You can plug the ScreenPlayHD into your HDTV with an HDMI connector, and play back photos and video files on your HDTV. The ScreenPlayHD supports 480i and 480p resolution video, but can upscale to 720p and 1080i resolution. This media-centric drive comes with a remote to control playback off its 500GB of storage space. The ScreenPlayHD also features component and composite video output to go along with the standard USB 2.0 port, and can play back a variety of common audio, video, and image formats.

LaCie LaCinema

At 500GB, the LaCie LaCinema Classic multimedia hard drive can pack a large media library. The LaCinema can directly play back audio, video, and photos in a variety of common formats, and will upscale video to 1080p resolution. The drive connects to your TV (HD or otherwise) using its composite audio/video or HDMI ports, and it comes bundled with a remote control. The $170 LaCinema supports both Windows Mac OS X, and Linux. Other LaCinema models, with different features and capacities, are also available. (Pictured above: The larger LaCinema 1TB model, which lacks an HDMI connection.)

Rebit Disk Drive Backup

Rebit Disk Drive Backup is even simpler to use. Just plug in the drive (available in capacities up to 500GB for $220), give the built-in software permission to back up, and off it goes, continually protecting you in the background. By the end of January, the drive's software will get an update that manages backups for up to six PCs to a single drive (a good setup for people backing up smaller sets of data, but not for users who have multiple PCs packed with multimedia collections). The company also now offers its easy-to-use software on CD, for use with any external hard drive; the CD costs $50" at its Web site.

Wolverine ESP

The Wolverine ESP 5000 hard drive is tailor-made for digital-photography enthusiasts who want to view their photos from anywhere. Conveniently, the ESP 5000 works like any other USB 2.0 mass storage device: Just jack it into your PC's USB 2.0 port, and use Windows Explorer to transfer images, music, video, or data into the preconfigured folders, and the content will be visible on the device. Measuring 5.3 by 2.8 by 0.9 inches and weighing 10.2 ounces, it's suitable for toting in a bag, not a pocket. The ESP 5000's 3.6-inch TFT LCD has an adjustable backlight and offers 320-by-240-pixel resolution. The ESP500 comes in capacities ranging from 80 to 250 GB, and retails starting at $300.

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