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Canon Media Storage M80 Digital Storage Device Review

Matt Grayson is happy that the Canon Media Storage M80 isn't just another magazine rack.

|  Canon Canon Media Storage M80 Digital Storage Device in Digital Storage Devices
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Created with the outdoor photographer in mind, the Media Viewer M80 is a portable viewing and download platform to store excess images allowing you to clear your cards for reuse.

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Canon Media Storage M80: Specification
  • Capacity: 80GbCanon Media Storage M80 main view
  • Available space: 74Gb
  • Spindle speed: 4,200rpm
  • Monitor: 3.7in TFT LCD
  • Resolution: 640x480
  • Angle of view: 160 degrees
  • Transfer speed: 4.1Mb/sec (CF-HDD), 3.8Mb/sec (SD-HDD, 4.3Mb/sec (SDHC-HDD), 7.5Mb/sec (HDD-PC)
  • File types: JPEG, TIFF, Canon RAW, MPEG, mp3, WAVE
  • Input: CF, Microdrive, SD, SDHC, USB 2.0
  • Output: USB 2.0, AV out (NTSC, PAL)
  • Power: Li-Ion battery
  • Size: 139.5x80.5x33.5mm
  • Weight: 370g (inc. battery)
There are other portable storage units around such as the Jobo Giga One Ultra 80Gb at £120.37 with a small 1.8in LCD screen and more compatibility with card formats and file types. Alternatively, the Vosonic VP5500 80Gb at £165.40 has a 3.5in LCD screen and takes around 13 card formats. The Epson P6000 80Gb storage device has a similar price at £440.41, a slightly larger 4in LCD screen and takes the same card types.
The cheaper models offer the same basic function for storing images but don't offer mp3 or video file download whereas the Epson does.

Canon Media Storage M80 rear view
The front of the unit is designed like the rear of an EOS DSLR.
Canon Media Storage M80 back up button
A one touch back up button replaces the "shutter release".
Canon Media Storage M80: Features
From photojournalists out in war torn countries who need to be as light as possible, to wildlife photographers who spend all day out in the field with no place to put all the pictures they take, the Media Storage has a use for any outdoor photographer. The huge 80Gb (74Gb effective) memory allows you to download all files for you to view, arrange and store without the need for a laptop meaning the amount of gear in both size and weight is addressed.

From the back it looks like a plain, black box as only the Canon branding and a small portion of the grip can be seen. On the top is a cover for the output ports such as USB 2.0 and AV which if you have music on it can also double up as a headphone socket. The AC socket is also found here but the mains adapter is an optional extra.

A groovy Backup button sits where the shutter release would be if this were a camera which allows for one step download of your memory card.

It's styled on an EOS DSLR, so any current or previous users of the system will be instantly familiar with it. In this respect the front can be quite confusing with it looking like the back of a camera.

The 3.7in LCD screen is great for viewing images and is only held back by its own resolution of VGA 640x480 pixels. Although resolution has only recently started to improve on the backs of cameras and this unit was first released two years ago.

Despite it's similar design to EOS, the power switch is a spring loaded type and the screen will automatically direct to the “home” page where you have the choice of five areas to go to which are for backing up, playing back images, listening to any sound recordings, watching any motion files and adjusting the set up of the viewer.

The player menus are all of the same construction allowing access to the HDD or either card slot. In the set up menu, you have 11 more options but these aren't extensive and usually only have a couple more choices within them.

You have the option to zoom in to any images you have displayed to check focus and by pressing the zoom out button, you can view them as thumbnails for faster perusal. The screen is bright and has good contrast for easier viewing. The battery life is always on display in the top right corner and on the home page, you can see how much HDD space you have.
Canon Media Storage M80 screen detail
The screen will show individual images or as a thumbnail version.
Within the image playback screen the unit will show you some basic information such as the file number, date & time it was taken and size of the image. Pressing info will bring up more information from the image such as the camera, shutter speed and aperture, metering mode, sensitivity and how much space the image takes up. You also have a histogram to check exposure and I think all that is missing from the unit here is a basic editing tool. It has automatic rotation built in so it would be nice to see basic sharpening, brightness, contrast and saturation tools available for some simple editing.

One of the more useful options in the setup menu is for setting up a PIN to protect your images if they're sensitive or confidential.

Everything is very straightforward and easy to navigate, read and use. This is great if you're out in the field and time is a problem as you don't have to trawl through extensive folders and sub menus.

Canon Media Storage M80: Build and handling
I's designed like a camera and the main thing that's difficult to get around for me is not to just press the button on the top to get out of the menus. It's what I do on a DSLR but on this it starts an automatic backup which can cause problems.
Canon Media Storage M80 battery
The use of a BP-511a Li-Ion battery is a good idea. It's used in popular models such as the EOS 5D and EOS 40D.
The ultra large screen works well and has a decent amount of contrast to it making viewing images more pleasurable. Beneath the plastic exterior lurks a magnesium alloy body meaning it can cope with the odd bump or two.

What I think is missing here is some weatherproofing. It's designed as a storage device for outdoor photographers yet they'll have to run for cover when in bad weather if they want to transfer.

I like the use of the BP511a battery which is compatible with the popular EOS 5D and EOS 40D. This means if one runs out, you essentially have a back up which is great news.

Canon Media Storage M80: Performance
Taking a look at the specification of the Media Storage M80 on the Canon website, they list the download transfer rate as 4.1Mb/sec from CF to HDD (Hard Disk Drive), 3.8Mb/sec from SD to HDD with a higher 4.3Mb/sec if you use SDHC cards and 7.5Mb/sec for upload from the HDD to a PC. This doesn't specify the speed of the CF card as different cards have variable speeds.
Canon Media Storage M80 cards
The M80 takes SD, SDHC and CF card types. They're inserted into the bottom of the unit next to the battery bay.
Canon Media Storage M80 ports
The ports on the top of the unit are for USB download, AV output and mains adapter. The AV also acts as a headphone socket.
I copied the same folder with 1Gb of images onto a Lexar SDHC card, a Lexar CF card, both 133x speed to make the transfer as fair as possible.

Transfer from the SDHC card to the HDD took 4min while transferring the same images from the CF card took 4min 21sec. This is a transfer rate of 4.16Mb/sec for the SDHC card and 3.83Mb/sec for CF. These results are a little slower than Canon's tests although they will have ensured optimum conditions to get the best performance whereas I'm using it in an everyday environment.
After transferring, I also had to wait for it to verify all the images too which took a further 5min 34sec for the SDHC card and just under 6min for the CF card.

Upload to the PC took 2min 45sec giving it a transfer speed of 6.06Mb/sec which is distinctly slower than the advertised speed. I used a USB 2.0 port on a computer that has an AMD Athlon 64 X2 Dual core processor 4200 and 2Gb RAM.

While the images are transferring, a graphic is displayed on the screen showing the current file transfer progress and the overall progress below. I think the main problem I have is that once the images are downloaded, you have to wait again for them to be verified which means the unit going through each individual image and checking them. Why it can't do this at the time, I have no idea as that would help with the psychological aspect: If the process is all done at the same time and takes the same amount of time as doing both, sure it's annoying, but you won't get frustrated at the process starting all over again.

Canon Media Storage M80: Verdict
I can see the benefit of the unit to the right photographer and I understand the design styling to help current EOS users with a familiar interface. I can even appreciate that with the Canon branding and added features such as video and music storage. What I can't understand is how it still remains at over £400 two years after release and when there are loads of similar units at half the price.

Laptops can even be picked up for around this price and have a built in card reader. Stick a basic editing tool on it and you have a better, albeit bigger, system.

If this was half the price, I would have no problem recommending it but as it stands in this day and age, it seems slow and expensive.

I'm also disappointed with the lack of a mains adapter. I would have thought that if I was to be downloading onto a computer that I could leave it plugged in. The battery will last, but that's not the point.

Canon Media Storage M80: Plus points
Excellent build
Great design idea
Easy to use
Large storage

Canon Media Storage M80: Minus points

Slow downloads
Limited card types
No mains adapter





The Canon Media Storage M80 costs around £429 and is available from Warehouse Express here:

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Britman 14 1.7k England
14 Feb 2009 8:01PM
Or get an Archos 5 and mini dock and card reader. It's not pretty but it works, plus you get wifi, music, video, games and a 5" touch screen.

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