Here is a review from Mac on his latest purchase – jealous, yes I am!!!
Exploring new photography vistas with my Canon DSLR have led me to a dilemma. It seems I’m constantly running out of space on my 2 GB Compact Flash card. One might say, get a bigger one, they are cheap these days. Sure a 4 Gb CF card will run you about $120 or less, but where is the fun in that? When by adding an additional $400 will get you a 4″ LCD with 40Gb of space that you can take with you and in a matter of minutes clear off your full memory card and go shoot more photos.
I’m talking about the Epson P-3000.
The Epson P-3000 is a multimedia power house. Size wise is a little daunting at first. Compared to an 5th gen iPod, it’s huge.
On the other hand compare it to a regular laptop and it’s tiny. So it’s a matter of perspective, but you won’t be putting this baby in your back pocket.
When I say multimedia power house I mean those exact words. Not only will it read your CF, SD, and MMC cards and display JPG and RAW picture formats, but it will play MP3, AAC, WMA music files, and DivX, MPEG 1/2, MPEG 4, WMV9 h.264 video files as well. That’s not all. It sports a usb port on the side, so you can plug in a flash drive and transfer files from your flash drive, or you can dump all the photos you have backed up to the flash drive. There is one caveat, your flash drive has to be formated with FAT32 file system, or the P-3000 will not recognize the device. That’s not all. If you have a PictBridge enabled printer, you can connect the P-3000 directly and from the P-3000 print your photos. Ok, so that pretty much covers the Wow factor of the device. Now can it do all these things well? From my testing the answer is a simple but enthusiastic YES.
Let’s talk about the picture storage aspect. To dump your photos from your camera to the P-3000 you have two choices. You can remove the memory card (as long as it is CF,SD, or MMC) from your camera and insert it into one of two memory card readers on the P-3000, or you can use the camera’s usb cable to connect it to the usb port on the P-3000. Either way with a two button click, you will backup all the photos to the P-3000 hard drive. It creates a backup folder named after the current date, and stores all your photos in that folder. The process can take a few minutes, depending how many photos you have and how big they are. To relieve your concern though, I will say that it doesn’t take any longer than taking the same photos and dumping them to your computer. When that is done, you just remove the card from the P-3000 and go on your merry way. Simple, easy and pretty fast.
Now you want to look at your photos. This is easy as well. Just navigate to the backup folder and browse through your photos in a beautiful 4″ LCD glory. Just a side note on the LCD screen. It has 640×480 resolution capable of displaying up to 16 Million colors with Adobe RGB color space to boot.
As you are previewing your photos, all you have to do is press the display button the front of the P-3000 and immediately you will see all the EXIF data of that photo, as well as the histogram superimposed on the photo. You can also zoom in into the picture to check for details. In RAW format it will allow zooming to 100% of the picture, and in JPG format it will allow zooming up 400%. Panning through a zoomed in picture is surprisingly fast, with out any noticeable redraw time. A slideshow is also an option and you can very quickly create one and show it off on the device.
Most digital cameras have an additional feature of recording movies. Some with sound some without. Of course as luck would have it, almost every camera has it’s own way of recording these movies. Some will record the movie in quicktime, some in mpeg4, and some even in mpeg2. I have to say that the P-3000 will play almost all of them. I cannot attest to every format, but I have tried MOV, AVI, WMV, and H.264 files, and all play very nicely. No stuttering or dropped frames. You can even hear the audio through a small built in speaker. It’s not much, but if you want more, you can connect a pair of headphones and listen on those.
That brings me to music. It’s not an ipod, but the interface is simple and intuitive. You can view your music by artist, by album by genre or even playlists. I will get to playlist in a moment. As long as you have your tags in your music files right, the P-3000 will display them as artists,albums, and song titles. Just select and play. As a typical mp3 player it performs with out a hitch. It even has a built in equalizer with predetermined or custom settings. I will repeat, it’s not an iPod. So you can not sync with iTunes, and management of music is more manual, dragging folders or files directly to the device, but if you wanted a music player you would get an iPod or something similar. Playlist on the other hand can only be created on the computer using the Epson Link2 software.
Now that you have all your photos and videos backed up on the P-3000 and you get home. Now what? Easy. You just take out the P-3000 out of it’s protective pouch open a little flap on the side and connect a usb cable to it. Turn it on and … and…. it appears on your computer as a removable hard drive. Done. No drivers to install, none. This is the same on both Macs and Windows systems. When you navigate into it, you will see a four standard folders that you will immediately recognize:
* Backup – this is where you photos from the memory cards are
* Music – this is where your music resides
* Videos – this is where videos reside (not from the memory cards though; they are in the back up folder).
* Photos – same thing as videos. This is a folder where you want to keep certain photos to show off to your friends, or clients.
Also you will find two files in the root directory. This is the Epson Link 2 software in both OS flavors, Mac and Windows. Since I’m on a Macintosh platform I can’t tell how the Windows version performs. Unfortunately the Macintosh version is, to put it bluntly, horrible. The interface is fairly simple, so using it does not procure a headache or panic, but it’s ugly and slow. God forbid you click on the settings icon while the device is connected to your computer. You will see a all grayed out settings dialog box that you cannot close. To make matters worse it obscures every thing underneath. Luckily you do not have to use this software. It serves only to create music playlists, and export rankings of your photos. Yes you can rank your photos or folders with stars of upto 5. It would be nice if you could import those rankings with your pictures into Aperture or Lightroom, but at the time of writing I cannot figure out a way of doing it.
Summing up, the Epson P-3000 is a great device for all the photographers on the go. It will backup your photos. It will let you preview them on the go with all the important data, and it will entertain you if you forget your iPod at home. Now isn’t that more fun than just getting a 4Gb memory card?
Yu can see more pictures from Mac over at OurCoolMacPics