When digital photography first became popular there were very few storage options besides memory cards available. Now with digital sales flourishing manufacturers are taking advantage of the demand for high capacity storage solutions. We're looking here at just such a solution, the Apacer Disc Steno CP100. It is a CD-R/RW storage device and can also be used as an external CD writer for your computer.
Apacer Disc Steno CP-100 specifications
- 24x Writing (CD-R)
- 10x Writing (High-Speed CD-RW)
- 24x Max Speed reading
- 2Mb Buffer memory
- Reads CompactFlash I/II, SD, MMC, MS, SM
- Buffer under run preventive technology
- Reads: CD-DA, CD-ROM, CD-ROM XA, Photo-CD, Video CD, CD Extra, CD Text, CD-R, CD-RW, High-speed RW.
- Rechargeable 7.4V, 1800mAh Li-ion battery.
- USB 2.0 Interface
- Dimensions: 184x157x33mm
- Weight: 693g (With battery)
Even by today's standards of super fast CD writers the Disc Steno has quite a good specification. It's great that it can be used as an external CD writer via the USB 2.0 interface as standard external CD writers are usually quite expensive and offer none of the extra functionality of the Disc Steno CP100.
We've got several storage devices in the ePHOTOzine office for review at the moment and the Disc Steno is one of the simplest to operate. It only has three buttons for Recording, Recording with check and CD ejection. There is also a switch on the side for powering the device on and off and that's as complicated as it gets.
The plus side of this simplicity is obvious, everyone should have no problem safely backing up their photos whilst on the move and it can be done quickly. However, some photographers might miss the confirmation that the images are physically on the CD, which you can get from storage devices with LCD screens.
The procedure of using the Disc Steno is:
1. Turn on device and make sure writeable CD-R/RW media is inserted.
2. Insert your memory card and make sure the ready light is on.
3. Press the Record, or Record with check buttons and wait for the flashing ready light to go off.
The Disc Steno stores each memory card copy you do into a different folder and it can record in sessions on CD-R media meaning you can keep writing to the CD-R until it becomes full.
It's not the fastest of devices but we backed up a full 256Mb Sandisk Ultra CompactFlash card in 2min 34sec. This time would have been longer had we chosen the record with checking option.
Apacer have packed in a good battery with the Disc Steno. It's a lithium-ion 1800mAh pack from GP and gives a good performance when combined with this device. Also included in the pack is a power adapter which is quite compact, altogether making the device very portable, but not pocketable.
A zip-up case is included in the box and it has a compartment for holding your CD-R/RWs.
We only had a few minor problems with the Disc Steno but they are worth noting. Firstly our unit was a early one so had old firmware which had some problems. Upgrading to the newest firmware from www.apacer.com was straightforward and resolved the issues.
The only other problem we had was with some of our Lexar memory cards, the Disc Steno simply refused to back them up. The affected cards were a 160Mb 4x and an 80Mb 4x.
The Apacer Disc Steno CP100 provides a very attractive storage solution, not only when out traveling but also at home. The fact that you can use it as a fast external CD-Writer with USB 2.0 is an added bonus.
The only niggles we had were with the Lexar cards but perhaps this could be remedied in a future firmware update. Storing your photos on CD whilst traveling has many benefits over using a portable hard-drive. CD-R/RWs are readily available and cheap, they are also very durable and it won't matter if you drop them or submerge them in water. However the Disc Steno is lacking some of the 'fun' features of other storage devices such as a colour preview LCD and MP3/Video playback which might appeal to some people.
In summary the main positive points of the Apacer Disc Steno CP100 are:
High speed storage
Easy to use
Attractive and reasonably compact design
Can be used as external CD-Writer with your computer
Good range of memory cards accepted
Case, AC-adapter and sample media provided
Negative points are:
Incompatibility with some Lexar CompactFlash cards
Quite large compared to some hard-disk based storage devices