Belkin Media Reader for iPod

Reviewed by: Greg Carson, July 2005, updated November 2006
Manufactured by: Belkin Corporation
Requires: Storage card (CF, SD, MMC, MS, etc.), any iPod model with a Dock connector, except for the iPod Mini
MSRP: Not listed but available at StylusCentral for US$99.99

The Belkin Media Reader for iPod provides a fast way to back up digital images to your iPod while traveling. The iPod's large capacity can store thousands of digital photos and frees up your camera's storage so you can take more pictures. With storage card capacities increasing almost monthly and digital camera resolutions and image files sizes increasing just as quickly, being able to offload images to an iPod—one of the most likely traveling companions—seems to make sense. The question is, does it make sense in actual practice?

The Media Reader for iPod is manufactured with a durable lightweight case that has a trendy white/style finish similar to the Apple iPod. The media reader is an extremely portable product—about the same overall dimensions as an iPod, but much lighter—which fits easily into a camera bag or your pocket. There is a sliding cover to protect the media insertion area from dust, liquids etc. Storage card compatibility is great. The Media Reader handles Compact Flash (CF) type I or II, Sony Memory Stick (MS, but not MS Pro), SecureDigital (SD), SmartMedia and Multimedia Cards (MMC). We tried a variety of different brands of these cards and the device read them all.


The transfer speeds are tolerable. It isn't excitingly fast, but you aren't left tapping your foot either. The transfer speed of a 3456 x 2304 RAW digital photo off a SanDisk Ultra II 1GB CF card to the iPod took about 8 seconds. I can fit close to 150 raw images on a CF card which means that transferring a card full of RAW files will take approximately 20 minutes. Have a Media Reader on hand, with 2 storage cards. Shoot onto the first card until it's full, then begin transferring and while it is processing start shooting on the other card. Even if you're shooting like a lunatic, it's hard to fill up a 1GB card in a typical day, let alone 20 minutes. So in most conceivable situations, by the time your second card is full, all of the images from the first will be safely stored on your iPod and you'll have another empty storage card ready for use.

When you plug the Media Reader into an iPod, the two devices negotiate a connection after which the iPod will display the simple Media Reader interface. Transferring files is easy, providing yet another useful task for the versatile iPod scroll wheel. After your photos have been transferred, a new folder called Photo Import can be found on your iPod in the Extras menu. Although you cannot view the photos on a standard iPod, the device will display the type of media, number of photos, date and size of the combined images from your last import session. Each session is given a different subfolder, so the photos are nicely organized as they're transferred. Copying or moving photos from the iPod is also a simple matter of connecting it to your computer. Once that's done, you can use Windows Explorer or your favorite file selector to grab what you want, keep what you want and delete what you want

I used the Media Reader for several days on the same set of batteries (it uses 4 x AAA cells), so battery life is still unknown. Adding an extra set of batteries to your camera bag is probably a safe bet in any case and I also always recommend installing fresh batteries in all devices before any trip. In any case as well, if you're just traveling or commuting locally and you're using a camera, Media Readers and iPod regularly, check battery charges every day.

Cons: Not the fastest device on the block. Then again, it appears to be the only device of its kind (on the block). Moving a fast, 1GB Ultra II CF card full of RAW files can take almost 20 minutes, a task best done during lunch or dinner. Relax, enjoy your food, transfer your files. The cable tethering the dock connector is very short—only a few inches.

Pros: Setup is quite fast and intuitive. Everything snaps and plugs snugly into place. The built-in safety door prevents dust and nameless horrors from finding their way into the media slots. Ports and slots on the Media Reader are clearly labeled. It's very handy, compact and light enough to not add any noticeable weight to your already overstuffed camera bag. Recommended.

(Ed. Note: After publishing this review, we received a number of reports of incompatibilities with the Memory Stick Pro. In fact, Belkin does not list Memory Stick Pro in its compatibility list for the Media Reader for iPod w/Dock. We did not try the newer Memory Stick Pro or the latest high speed Memory Stick Pro so we can't recommend the original Belkin Media Reader for iPod for use with Memory Stick Pro. As of November 2006 however, the latest version of the Media Reader for iPod works perfectly with Memory Stick Pro and several other types of media.)





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