Digital Media Banks

Filling a 4G memory card with pictures from a 7MP digital camera can take some time. Throw in a handful of short video clips and a week long vacation though, and that 4G starts looking mighty restrictive. Enter digital media banks.

Often called digital photo banks, these relatively small portable harddrive enclosures on steriods allow you to easily transfer the contents of your memory card to the photo banks’ internal harddrive so you can take more pictures. Simply insert your memory card into the built-in card reader, press a copy button, and when it’s finished, put the card back into your camera and erase the contents of it.

That’s right. These magical little devices can copy the pictures and video right off your digital camera’s media card without there being a computer in sight. Generally built about the size of an old cassette walkman, these things are starting to take the place of laptops for weekend warrior photographers.

Digital photo banks can be purchased with or without harddrives, allowing you to choose the storage amount you need. They are often simple devices, offering only two buttons; power and copy. They typically come with their own rechargeable batteries, and a small LCD screen to display copy progress. The most important feature outside of storage size is the built-in card reader. Be sure it supports all of the memory card types you have. Compact flash and SD card’s are probably the most popular, but the proprietary ones (think Sony) are less likely to be supported across the board.

Some of the more recent models contain additional features such as MP3 players, FM radio, and voice recording, but don’t be swayed by the extras. The most important feature is the ability to copy the data from your memory card so you can continue taking photos, so make that your primary purchasing criteria. Choosing a 20G bank with an MP3 player over a 40G one without musical abilities might seem like a solid decision now, but when that new 12MP camera graces your doorstep courtesy of Fedex, don’t say you weren’t warned.

Regardless of whether you’re a budding photographer or simply someone who takes a lot of photos at family gatherings, chances are a digital photo bank will free you up for more picture taking when Aunt Sarah has maxed out all three floppy disks on her old Sony Mavica.

Just remember though when someone with one of these asks for your memory card so they can be sure they got all of the good photos of little Joey’s 3rd birthday party. They’re going to get everything on your memory card, even the ones you meant to keep private. 😉


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