New to the X'S Drive family is the X's Drive Pro. This device appears similar to the others in its range. It offers compatibility with a range of memory cards and can back up your photos to its internal hard disk. However there is one key difference between it and its companions as it has the ability to play MP3 music files. We've taken a look at it as we were curious how it stacks up against the X'S Drive II we reviewed some time ago.
X'S Drive Pro VP300 specifications
- 6in1 Card reader. Reads CompactFlash Cards Type 1 / Type II, IBM Microdrives, Smartmedia Cards, Memory Stick / Pro, Secure Digital and MultiMedia Cards.
- Black and white 2.5" LCD
- Comes with a 30gig internal hard disk. Other options are available.
- Internal Li-ion rechargeable battery.
- Quoted 2 hours battery life
- USB 2.0 / 1.1 interface
- Plays MP3 music files.
- Supports FAT 12/16/32 File systems
- Supports Windows 98/98SE, Windows 2000 (With driver), Windows ME/XP, Linux (With kernel 2.4+), Mac OS 8.6-9.0 (With driver), Mac OS 10.0.1.
- Comes supplied with Power adapter, USB cable, Guide, Driver CD and earphones.
- Weighs 329g including battery and hard disk.
- Dimensions 136x86x37mm.
The user interface is quite straightforward.
The X'S Drive Pro has a fairly simple exterior. The power button is at the top of the control panel and also serves as a status light. Below are buttons for selecting files, controlling volume, copying / deleting and confirming and escaping.
The casing is an average plastic type and doesn't have the same quality tough feel as some portable metal-bodied MP3 players do.
The LCD allows you to select between file and MP3 modes, see which file is selected and also provides information on transfer progress.
We will assume that if you are looking at this review you are interested in the MP3 playback facilities of this device. If you're not remotely interested in MP3 playback, you may be better off reading our X'S Drive II review.
MP3 players are hot sellers at the moment, with models like the Apple iPod flying off the shelves. These players tend to be small sleek units, easy to drop in a pocket and forget about. To slip the X'S Drive Pro in your pocket, you're probably going to need to expand your wardrobe to include some oversized clothes. It's not at all compact, the Apple iPod is almost half the weight and is considerably smaller.
Included with the X'S Drive Pro are a pair of standard earphones which plug into the top of the device. Whilst they look OK, the sound is flat, lacking in bass and unexciting. If you are serious about listening to music, it would be well worth buying a pair of higher quality inner earphones such as Koss buds or Sony EX-71's. When connected to a decent pair of earphones the X'S Drive Pro sounds a lot better, although we did note some low level hiss indicative of either poor design or components. However, when listening at a moderate volume this hiss is not easy to hear.
There are none of the features you'd find on most other MP3 players such as equalisation, bass / treble settings, random play mode, repeat mode. Combining the absence of these features with the oversized casing, poor earphones and the hiss, this device only just qualifies as an 'MP3 Player'.
Backing up memory cards
Using the X'S Drive Pro to backup your memory cards is as straightforward as turning it on, inserting the card and pressing copy, then just sit back and watch the progress meter. A feature we'd like to see here is a overall progress meter as it only displays a per file progress report. Backing up a full Sandisk Ultra 256mb card took 8 minutes 39 seconds, which is slower than we expected and doesn't compare well to some other storage devices we've reviewed recently. Even the X'S Drive II which is a similar device from the same manufacturer took considerably less time at 4 minutes 33 seconds.
Using as a storage device
Besides the usefulness of being able to backup your memory cards to a portable hard disk, this device also works well as a portable storage device to connect to a PC. On most modern operating systems you just need a standard USB cable and you will be able to transfer large or small files to and from the X'S Drive Pro. Thanks to the USB 2.0, any large files you need to copy should transfer reasonably quickly.
The X'S Drive Pro is a straightforward memory card backup device. It won't win any awards for speed, build or sound quality but at the end of the day it does get the job done. It's also reasonably priced and available from some retailers without a hard disk allowing you to fit your own.
The bottom line is that if you're looking for a memory-card compatible storage device that includes basic MP3 playback at a competitive price the X'S Drive Pro will do the job. If however you are at all serious about listening to music on the move we'd suggest you look elsewhere.
In summary the main positive points of the X'S Drive Pro are:
Good memory card compatibility
Includes carry case and earphones
Reasonable battery life
Can be used as a portable PC hard disk
Fast USB 2.0 interface
Negative points are:
Larger and heavier than your average MP3 player
Strangely slower than competing devices at backing up memory cards
Plastic casing doesn't stand up well to the competition
Quiet hiss on audio playback and few playback options