With the world rather quickly becoming one where everyone seems to own an iPod, digital photographers will be pleased to see that Belkin has produced a unit for reading files from your digital cameras memory card and transferring them to your iPod's hard drive.
We'd better make it clear that the Media Reader for iPod will only work on the newer models, ie with iPod software version 2.1 or later and only on iPods with a dock connector.
Rather disappointingly the device doesn't support all the memory card formats currently available, however it does support the majority of cards; CompactFlash, SmartMedia, SD Card, Memory Stick and MMC. Users of Olympus and FujiFilm will have to make sure they've already invested in the Compact Flash adapter for xD.
Using the device is easy. The unit, surprisingly larger than an iPod in width, height and depth but still white and shiny, is plugged into the iPod via the charging and docking port. Once connected, the iPod's screen will instantly ask you to either insert a card if you haven't done so, or whether or not you would like to import the images to the iPod. After importation the images are saved as rolls (similar to iPhoto) in the Extras menu for later retrieval.
Transferring the images isn't the fastest task in the world. Although the manual suggests you are transferring via FireWire, the actual speeds are more akin to USB1.0. Once transfer is complete you simply unplug the reader and the job's done. Of course the iPod interface currently doesn't allow you to view the images however you can see the file names to check they are there and when you connect to a Mac iPhoto will recognise the iPod as a camera and import your photos if you want as you would you digital camera.
While the system does save you the hassle and expense of getting extra memory cards for your digital camera the drain on the battery life of both the iPod and the 4 AAA batteries in the Media Reader is enough to be concerned about. In our tests we managed to copy about 512Mb of photos before the battery started to wane on the iPod and a word of warning therefore would be to make sure you take your iPod charger with you if you want to use this device and invest in the highest rated AAA rechargeables you can afford.
Overall this unit will get you out of a bind if you've got your iPod to hand and are short of memory cards for your digital camera, however at a cost.