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The Nixvue memory card backup device.

This photo stolen from Steve's Digicam review section - see it, he is more thorough than I am

When I am not at a keyboard, you will often find me underwater or travelling around some far flung country. I used to spend an absolute fortune on photo development whenever I returned from a trip and as soon as digital cameras and underwater housings became cheap enough and good enough to fit my needs I jumped at them. The results weren't too shabby so the digicam stayed. However, I soon discovered that my insatiable desire to take photos and the expense of media cards were not very compatible or cost effective. If you are away on a diving trip for 14 days diving twice a day at least you are going to need a lot of media cards. You don't want to dive on a half full card after all. The solution I chose was the Nixvue Digital Album.

The Nixvue is a simple device, essentially just a laptop hard drive, a PCMCIA slot, Video out and a USB interface all wrapped in a case with a small embedded OS on it to manage the user interface and file system.

To backup your media you need to get a PCMCIA adaptor for your media type ranging from about a fiver for a CF adaptor (yes really) upto about 30 quid for a SmartMedia or Memory stick adaptor by default the Nixvue comes with a CF adaptor. Slap the adaptor in the slot, then simply plug in your media and power it up, the on screen menu lets you copy the files to the internal drive and verify the copy has worked before erasing the card ready to be reused.


When you get back to your hotel room grab the docking station (or use the travel kit if you have it) and view your photos on the TV through the video out, PAL and NTSC are switchable. Using the onscreen menus you can browse the filesystem and view photos either individually or as a slide show. In addition you can copy files back to the media card for transfer to another device (more of that when I come to the Zaurus specific part).


When you get back home, plug in the USB cable and the Nixvue becomes a removable drive under window, (no known Linux support I'm afraid). In fact if you have a media card in the device when you power it on under USB, it will swith into card reader mode and the removable drive presented is the card rather than the hard drive.

....yeah yeah but what about the Zaurus?

The Zaurus is a great little device but how can I carry enough ogg files around to satisfy my moods for a fortnight away? What if I'm stuck in the middle of the Peruvian jungle and I feel a mad desire to compile some code, to play doom or load up MAME? What I need is a handy portable hard disk...ta da...plug the Nixvue into your PC. create a new folder or two for your Zaurus files and music and copy over all the stuff that you need. When you are off on your travels you can plug in your media card, transfer the apps/music that you need and away you go. More power to the Zaurus. Of course it works the other way too. I've returned to the hotel after a long day in the jungle or underwater (or whatever I'm sure you get my gist by now), I write up my diary/dive log, or perhaps the ground breaking new discovery that I stumbled upon. I can't afford to lose it, I simply copy the files onto the media card, unmount the card from the Z, pop it into the nixvue and back it up.


PS. Nixvue have recently launched the successor to the Digital Album, the plain LCD has been replaced with a colour one and the ability to show photos on screen.

July 11, 2002

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