Digital Partner Image Tank

A review of the Digital Partner Image Tank. An Image Tank lets you back up your Flash Cards while you are out in the field without access to a computer.

Highlights:

Drive Capacity 30GB
Dimensions 115x77x21mm
System Requirements Windows 98, 2000, XP, MacOS 8.9,9.X, Mac-OSX, Linux 2.4
Connection USB 2.0
Power Adapter 110-240 VAC in, 5V out
Battery Charge 13 1GB Flash Cards
Transfer Time for full 1GB flash Card 6min,43s
Automatic Off Time 55s
Conclusion Best Bang for your Buck
Price paid about $120

Image backup solutions in the field have become increasingly important to me. I almost only shoot RAW pictures for the obvious reasons. Once I am away from my Computer for more than a day, I desperately needed some backup solutions that allowed me to store my pictures while I am out in the field taking pictures. This is the second Image Tank I bought and i really like it.

Box Contents

 

box contents

You can buy the Digital Partner Image Tank device with or without a Hard drive installed. I chose a 30GB device that I bought on Ebay for about $120. You will be able to save a few dollars if you buy the drive and the enclosure separately and install your own drive. The Box contains a small screwdriver that lets you install it.
The Drive has to be formatted with FAT32. There is an issue in Windows XP / 2000, which prevents you from creating a partition larger than 32GB. The Enclosure will only access the first formatted partition on the drive. So if you need a larger drive installed, you can either buy it pre-installed on Ebay or you will have to use some other tool for partitioning. Unfortunately I cannot review if this is true or not, since I have a 30GB drive installed in mine. Maybe someone would care to comment on this below this review.
The Box contains the Enclosure (with or without a Drive), a screwdriver, screws, a pouch, a charger, a USB cable and a Driver Disc.

Some Features

The Digital Partner can take just about every Camera Memory Card and copy it. It supports the following formats: CF I, CF II, MD, SD, MMC, MS, MS-Pro, SM, MiniSD, RS MMS, MS Duo, MS-Pro Duo, XD, SM.
I assume if you know which one your camera uses.
The Device comes with a USB 2.0 port for fast data transfer between a host computer and the drive.
The Driver CD includes Drivers for Windows 98, Windows 2000 and Mac-OS 8.9-9.X. Windows XP and 2000 detect the drive automatically and I assume that Mac-OSX will do the same. It behaves just like any external USB HDD and can even be used under Linux, so you can use the device to transfer data or to back up pictures.
The device can hold any 2.5" Laptop HDD of any size. You may have some trouble formatting a very large drive, but there should be tools available online. The weight of the Digital Partner is mainly determined by the HDD and so is the size of 115x77x21mm.

Memory Card Ports

More Memory Ports

Even More Memory Ports and Buttons

Some Testing

 

Amount of transfered data

The most pressing questions most may have will probably be battery life.
In order to estimate the battery lifetime, I took a full 1GB Flash Memory card and started copying it until the battery was empty. I cycled the power twice, and once I let the device automatically shut off.
I was able to transfer 13.7GB (or 14.8 Billion Bytes). Each Memory card contained 999 Million Bytes or 970 Megabytes. So I was able to transfer 13 full memory cards while the device ran out of power during transfer of the 14th. Now I should mention, that that was done in the comfort of my home during one evening. This means that you probably won't get the same performance in the field, as the battery will be cold and you will probably need several days to fill this much space. The battery indicator was showing 2 of 3 bars right until after the transfer of the 12th card. At this point it dropped to 0 of 3. I was still able to get a full card transferred, but I wished the battery indicator would be more accurate.
When you are outside in cold weather, you should put the device into your inside pockets, to keep it warm and maximize the battery lifetime.
Some more data I recorded during my test:
Transferred: 13.7GB (14.8 Billion Bytes)
13 Full 1GB Cards + 80% of the 14th
Average Transfer Time per 1GB Card: 6:43 (min:sec)
Automatic Off time: 55s
The card used in this test was a CF Type I PQI Hi-Speed 40.

Folder Structure
I am not trying to be scientific. As I said I did the test at home, just to get an estimate about battery life. I think the battery lifetime is quite good and should give you enough charge to store all your pictures. I own two Batteries for my Canon 20D and I am pretty sure I could empty those and store all the pictures on my Digital Partner device.

The images are stored in a folder named CARDS in subfolders named CFxxxx (xxxx being an ascending number, see picture).

The device needs only two buttons to operate it, the on/off button and the copy button.
One simply inserts the memory card and presses copy. The display will show the free space on the device, a battery indicator (very inaccurate), a progress bar, the amount of data on the card and the type of card inserted. Unfortunately, the device behaves like a black hole until you are back at your computer. Once everything has transferred, you have no indication about the data on the drive. You can \not browse the folder and you cannot view the files on the drive, so you better remember what card you backed up and what card needs backup.

Obiviously the device can be used as a multi card reader, even if no Hard Drive is installed.

The Digital Partner in the Field

Device in Action

Since everything worked so nicely right out of the Box, I never gave the Driver CD a second though. Once I was in Peru, I noticed that a lot of Internet Cafes were still running on Windows 98. Unfortunately, I didn't bring the CD with me. Even after searching for quite some time online I was not able to find a suitable driver. After this happened to me for a second time, I remembered my other image tank for which I could find drivers online. So in case this happened to you and you ended up on this site through a search engine looking for Drivers:
The Driver for Windows 98
I used the Drive extensively together with another one (review coming) that I owned for quite some time. I chose to double back up my pictures, and gave one of the image tanks to Dani. This was to protect ourselves, in case one of our tanks was stolen, lost data or got damaged while we were climbing between the ruins. I put each Image Tank into a Ziplog bag, to protect it from the humidity and the rain and put it into my backpack. Keep in mind that your photos may actually be worth more than your camera and deserve special attention. After all a damaged or lost camera can be replaced. Since the device has no delete button, there is no chance that you can accidentally delete a picture, while you have it in your pocket.
Since the device switches off after about one minute of not being used, I put the card into the device, pressed copy and put it back into my pocket while I was paying attention to the photo in front of me. It is a very easy and convenient backup solution. I never ran out of memory, since I backed each card up when it was full and put another one into my camera to continue to shoot or just to be ready for the next shot.

Conclusion:

The Digital Partner Image Tank is all it claims to be and nothing more. It offers an incredible value. I have not found anything less expensive that was able to do the same. It is easy to upgrade with a larger drive, should my 30GB drive ever become too small. Your images will be perfectly save on the HDD. You should get a good HDD, which is known to be reliable. I believe mine holds a Hitachi Drive, the same ones that are in IBM Laptops. It should be one of the better ones available.
The battery indicator is basically worthless and the device does not give you any feedback on stored pictures. There are plenty of devices available today that offer a color preview. When I bought this device there was none that did show RAW files, so the decision was easy. Today there are some, like the Epson P2000. To be honest, I wouldn't use the Preview in the Field, since I would be more concerned about power usage.
I think the Digital Partner offers the best bang for your buck. If an Image Tank is all you want, this is one of the best choices. If you also want a digital media player buy something else.

Update (2007-04-15): I just realized that for cards larger then 1GB, the Image Tank only shows 999MB (seems to be some sort of max limit), but it will still copy the entire card (I tried a 2GB Sandisc Ultra II).

Thanks!

Good thoughts, thanks for the review. So, to buy a bigger hard drive and use it, one would need to: 1) Purchase a 44-pin Female to 40-pin IDC Male 2.5" (laptop) drive adaptor to use in a desktop computer. 2) Boot with a windows 95/98 floppy - and find my floppy drive ;) 3) Format the drive from there Ultimately not a deal breaker I'd say.

Guess

I am not sure you have to do that Chris. I think you can use some other OS (such as Win98 or Linux) to do the partitioning and formatting via USB. Or check out the link to the freeware above (other tool link). I think those solutions would work equally well without the added pain, not sure though. I just wanted to alert the readers to check out all possiblities.
Or you could buy one with a pre-installed drive. It will already be formatted.

great review!

This is a great review! I just ordered one from Ebay for my 7 week Europe trip. I think investing in this will be cheaper than going to photo kiosks or internet cafe's in the long run. Also, the ability of it becoming an external HDD is great too. 30GB is ample space to do lots of file transfering between computers, let alone taking pictures. After reading this, I feel a lot more confident about my purchase. This is the only review I've seen online so I was a bit worried. Now, I can be more secure about my purchase =) Thanks! -Bob

Problems with digital image tank

Hello, I'v 4 HDD 1 of 20gB 2 of 40gB and 1 of 60gB. I've formatted the HDD's 20gB in FAT32 and the others in NFTS. In my pc there are no problems but when i put them in the digital storage tank i've always the same error 01 What's the problem? Thanks, Leo

NTFS

Leo: Portable devices such as this rarely ever support NTFS. You need to format all your drives in FAT32. There are some workarounds to format larger than 32GB with FAT32 but it can be done. I bought mine with the drive installed already, but I am pretty sure thats where your problem is.

damaged memory card

I was wondering if there was a way to obtain photos that are still on a SD 64mb memory card? It seems to me that the back panel that is cover with 7 plastic strips of the plastic... one of those strips is completly broken off (it was dropped) and another is worn down?? I know that there are over 70 important pics on this card and would greatly appreciate any ideas, suggestions or solutions as to how I may possibly be able to obtain them?? Thank you in advance..to all!!

I have recovered images

I have recovered images using photorescue PC edition before, when the card reader wasn't able to show anything on the card. I think it costs around $29.
Otherwise I would try to fix it mechanically and then try to use one of those programs. They have demo versions, but the demo versions only show what can be recovered. They don't actually work.

Digital Partner AC Power

I received my Digital Partner last week, however they forgot to include the AC power adapter. I emailed them and they're going to send me one.

I have several around from various devices but not sure which one would work. Could someone that has one that came with the Digital Partner tell me what it says on the label as to specs? Thanks.

sandisk Memory stick pro-duo & ultra II support

have u guys tried scandisk memory stick pro Ultra and duo with this digital partner ? my digital partner has difficulty in detecting sandisk memory stick pro duo and memory stick ultra. I've tried this on few units in the store and having the same problem.

Michael: I am mostly using

Michael: I am mostly using CF cards from my Canon 20D, but I have a P&S camera with a Memory Stick Pro. This one is read just fine. Don't know about the Duo or Ultra though.

Digital Partner Hard Drive.

I bought one of these with a 60gb hd that corrupts about 5% of my files. I guess I need to replace the hard drive. I would be ok with a smaller one if necessary. Where can get one, how hard are they to replace? Otherwise, It's a $180.00 item for me to toss. I cant find the Digital Partner paperwork, so I can't contact them. If anybody has their addtress, I could use it, but I think it MIGHT be easier to simply replace the drive. Thanks, A

Hm

This shouldn't be happening, since it is just an enclosure for a harddrive. It should work like any external hdd, with the added option to download from flash memories.
I would plug the drive into your computer and run a discchecker on it to see if it reports a lot of bad sectors or anything like that. Mine works like a champ, I never had any problems.

Portable Digital Partner USB2 recogntion problem

I have Portable Digital Partner. It has 80Gb and card reader. I used it with my laptop (Windows XP tablet edition). After a break, I try to use it again. I am getting a message Unknown device. It doesn't matter if disk is inserted or not. I have no access my drivers CD. Any advise what should I do? Thanks Jacek

You shouldn't need any

You shouldn't need any drivers anyways.
If you email me your operating system version I can try to find the driver for you. However my guess is something else is wrong. Try it on a different computer first to see if its the drive or the computer.
Uninstall the driver (you may have to boot in safe mode to do this) and then plug the device in and see if it installs a new one. Windows can be weird that way.

diver for windows XP tablet edition

OS Name Microsoft Windows XP Professional tablet edition
, Version 5.1.2600 Service Pack 1 Build 2600.
Information from hardware manager shows: No drivers are installed for this device. Therefore I can't unistall them. It would be greate help to get proper drives. Thanks Jacek

Win 2000

I am not entirely sure I can help you. I have checked the CD that came with the device and I only found this: Windows 2000 Driver XP has always been able to find it for me, but I think the Windows 2000 Driver might just work (right click the .inf file to install). I am not affiliated with them, so I don't know more than you.

Digital Partner Disk Failure

Great review on the DP. I bought mine to take on a trip to Mt Everest and it did great until I got home when it crashed. I recovered the disk and then reformated my 30 gig DP in Win XP. I can move files in and out of the drive when connected to my PC but the device won't recognize and copy cards anymore. Any advice anybody?

Thanks!

Josh

The DP does only recognize FAT32. My guess would be that you formatted it in NTFS on Win XP. Try reformatting it in FAT32 (not sure if you have to use any tricks to force Windows to do this).
Also these discs don't cost the world anymore. If a disc ever failed on me, I would replace it for fear of future data loss. Consider yourself lucky that you were able to recover everything. To me, the pictures are worth far more than the cost of a replacement disc.
These devices take a lot of beating. IBM has used some of the best disc in their Notebooks (I believe those were Hitachi), that would lift the head when they detect they are being dropped. I would get one of those.

I am trying to find a

I am trying to find a solution, my parents hvae bought a sony camcorder with an internal hard drive, does this device have a female USB port and can it retrieve data from such devices, Thanks

It has a mini USB port

It has a mini USB port (female). I am not sure if you can write to the device from your camera. I think it mostly depends on your camera, if it accepts external hard drives.
I believe there is a special USB standard to support this, but I forgot how it was called and I cannot seem to find it again. I was trying to find out if I could dump data from the 20D without having go through a CF card, so I could set it up for infinite shooting (for extremely large panoramics). I don't think thats exactly what you need, so check your camera's manual.

HDD Camcorders

I am looking for portable storage to compliment a HDD camcorder, does this have a female usb port and are HDD camcorders compatible with FAT 32?

Incorrect free space count?

My family and I just spent 5 weeks on the road carrying two digital cameras and and one of these devices as the backup device. Brilliant! Did me fine except I ran into an issue where the hard drive free space was not correct.

After about 3 weeks with daily camera card copies (we used bo SD and CF) I hooked up the image tank to a laptop and deleted all the old card copies bar the latest; then renamed that folder up a level etc etc.

The Image Tank did not recognise I had deleted the old files; thus the free space counter didn't increase. After another 10 days, even though the disk had 10GB free, the free space count went down to 0.1GB and it wouldn't copy cards.

I left it at that, waited until I got home, copied the files away and then reformted the hard drive and voila, 19GB free again.

Anyone have any ideas?

I haven't seen that Malcom.

I haven't seen that Malcom. However I have a Arcos Gmini 220 that I use as a secondary image tank. This one does have a similar problem.
With this one it helps to connect it to a computer and simply defragment it (I don't have to format it).
I am not sure if this will help in your situation, but you may want to try it. You can also try to run error checking on the drive to see if this will solve the mystery.
The device does not support to delete files without a computer anyways, so that wouldn't be too much of a hassle I assume.

Um, I just had another thought. Did you shift+delete the files or simply delete them? If you delete them, Windows will put them in the Recycle Bin, which happens to be on the same drive (so it simply moves the file and doesn't delete it entirely). Try to select the files and then select shift+delete. Thats what I usually do and I don't have the same problem you do.

Hope this helps.

Andre

Why I can't fill my info?

Hi! Why I can't fill my info in profile? Can somebody help me?
My login is Kisakookoo!

shift-delete seems to work!

Well all very strange but I'll put it down to working in a strange environment.

Having done some tests involving multiple copies of an SD card at home it appears that yes, shift-delete is the way to go. You can evel 'cleanup' the disk post normal delete and empty the recycle bin.

Don't know what I was doing overseas; must not have been hitting the shift key or something.

Thanks,
Malcolm

A/C adapter

I've had this item for many years but lost the adapter I have a 5v adapter but it has a different end on it. Did you find out the amps requirements the one I have is 2.4A I saw your post and was hopping you already received and answer.
Gary Smith

A/C adpater

Hello Gary,

I still have the original. Mine is 5V, 1.5A (so 2.4A is plenty).
The positive pole is on the inside of the plug and the negative on the outside.
Hope that helps.

This thing is a must have!

Originally bought my 40GB Digital Partner to handle vacation photos. Works great with my Canon A620, especially for holding large video files also. Recently my wife took it with her to the humid Philippines for 4 months with my old 2Mpixel Canon A40. She took and stored over 8,000 photos and video clips. She also dropped it on concrete once, yet it still kept on ticking (don't recommend trying this though, hehehe)! Now I have to sort through all those photos. Really this device is a must have on vacations. Also noted that you can get really good deals for it these days on ebay, making it almost expendable.

To the guys not seeing space

To the guys not seeing space free up when you remove photos, If you just hit the delete key to remove the files, you're only moving the folders and files to the recycle bin (to a hidden system folder called RECYCLER). So they aren't actually deleted and the device is correctly reporting that your drive is full. SHIFT-DELETE bypases the recycler and deletes the files directly. Just be careful!

I just bought one off e-bay for $19.99 with out the drive since I already had a 60GB drive laying aorund. So cheap that it would silly to go on my trip to Italy without it. Glad to hear that other people are having good luck with the device though. Its hard to trust a device like this with your photos!

Drive Manufacturer

Who is the manufacturer of the drive you have in your Digital Partner?

I don't recall, but I

I don't recall, but I suspect it might be Hitachi. I think those are the ones used in the Thinkpads and are known for ruggedness.

Moving parts

One thing to consider...if you use one of these, you're transferring your photos from a device with no moving parts (the card that goes in your camera) to a device with moving parts (the image tank). And moving parts are much more prone to failure, especially when in your pocket as opposed to on your desk.

However, for people who are considering buying an image tank device, but already have an iPod, you may consider looking for an adapter that effectively turns the iPod into an image tank - it will be cheaper than the image tank shown above. Of course, then you can't fill the iPod up 100% with songs, since you'd obviously need to leave plenty of room for pictures.

Can't get images off of Digital Partner

Long story short, I bought the digital partner and after finally figuring out how to get a drive formatted properly for it to work, took it to Italy and copied over a 1000 pics on the drive without much problem. Then I got home, hooked the device up to my new computer running Vista. Three drives show up F:, G:, and H: but I cannot access any of them. I double click and it tells me to insert disk into drive F: or G:, etc. So now I am frustrated because I cannot figure out how to get my pictures off of the hard drive...which as far as I know are still on there. Anybody have this problem and what possible solutions are there? Please, any help would be appreaciated as I am desperate to get my pictures off the hard drive.

Christina

I believe the Drives you are seeing are just the 3 memory card ports that the device has. If I remember correctly, you should see a forth drive that is the actual Hard Drive.
What this is telling me is that your computer does NOT detect the hard drive inside the digital partner.
Try it on a Windows XP machine (Vista might not have the correct drivers).

DC partner manufacturer

Hi Man, we are the manufacturer of DC partner. The above one is one of our old products, now we have made new products with color display and supporting SATA hard disk. You can browse the pictures you just copied immediately. Also the backup speed is higher than before. We welcome distributor and trader to contact us for the business. Thanks, bob@qcool.cn MSN:fangxubo@hotmail.com - Mr.Bob Fang

Copying from CF II cards to DC partner HDD

I have bought DC partner device for copying CFII cards. When the card is inserted HDD recognizes it but when I push COPY button HDD shows error and the content of the card is not copied. The device reads other card types - SD. ANy ideas? Thanks

File Corruptions on Digital Partner

I purchased a Digital Partner for my Father in Law. We put a 40Gb Samsung drive in it, formatted for FAT32 (so 32GB useable)

Quite often the image copied across to the unit from a CF card gets corrupted. For example in 37 photos 1 will be corrupted. If you look at the card directly on the MAC via a card reader or even the DP using it as a card reader everything looks fine.

My Father in Law takes both a JPEG and RAW image the same time per shot. Each shot is about 6Mb.

I had the hard drive looked at and reformatted as a CHKDSK revealled a few issues but the problem still occurs after the reformat.

Does anyone have any thoughts on what the problem could be?

SmartDisk Digital Photo Bank

I recently bought a SmartDisk Digital Photo Bank from Best Buy. Its essentially the same model with a 80GB HDD pre-installed and it displays the storage of cards above 1GB correctly.
The hardware and the firmware appear to be identical, so I felt quite comfortable with it. I am currently traveling and while I backed up a card, the Photo Bank turned itself off and refuses to back up any more cards (it remains stuck at 00%).
I will see if I can return it, as I bought it brand new. I haven't been able to get it working again.

If you go to smartdisk.com you will find a tool to format drives above 32GB with FAT32. I am convinced that it will work for the Digital Partner as well. Give it a shot and see if that solves your problem.
I believe the Device is not doing any error checking (comparing the copied data to the data on the card), so I am not convinced that it will solve your problem.
I had a similar problem with an older Archos once (file corruption). I had to update the firmware to make it go away.

Andre

Imagetank

Not worth a penny. Poor shock mounting, flimsy control buttons, arcane menus, weird battery..... Better look somewhere else. Maybe something that starts with "Hyper..." drive.

Digital Partner

I have the digital partner worked good for one trip . Came installed with a 30 gig ( 27 gig) hard drive. But now it will not read any of the digital cards.

Any suggestions on how to fix?

Thanks

Digital Partner

Hi Do you have a firmware upgrade available. I can not seem to read the newer micro sd cards and others. Also what is the latest addition to the range and do you have a website. Thanks

Digital Partner

Buy one of these with caution. When it came, mine would copy CF cards but not XD cards. I returned it for repair, and when it came back it would copy neither kind of card. Responding to an email, they told me to call technical support, but tech support does not answer the phone and they do not respond to messages.

I emailed again and was told to describe the problem, which I had already done but that was a couple of emails back and I guess they forgot. More emails, no response. emailed again asking for refund, was told to call. Called, was given RMA for return and refund. So far, I'm out about $25 for shipping and mailing, have taken a lot of guff, and have no Digital Partner. I guess I'll eventually get the refund, but I'm not counting on it.

As best I can tell, it's poor quality equipment, they have no technical support, and they really don't care.

neede a new ac adapter and battery

L.S.,

This is how I got my digital partner: I found it lying on the ground next to a railroad track in the Netherlands. I decided to use it myself. I could charge the battery through the USB port on my tablet pc but now the battery is dead and I would like to order spareparts (AC adapter and battery). Is this possible in Europe? It's such a waste to throw it away!

Jan Willem

Charger

A replacement charger shouldn't be a problem, as long as you match the polarity and the voltage on the connector. Many universal chargers have selectable polarity and voltage.
I am not sure about the battery. I think it should be possible to replace it.

Can be Formatted other than NTFS

Can this be formattaed other the FAT32?

Hope to work in this in another format like in macintosh?

computer tablet reviews guy

Hello. I have lost all day

Hello. I have lost all day searching for some articles about this. I wish I knew of this site earlier, it was a fantastic read and really helped me out.
statistical help

He didn't bring the CD with

He didn't bring the CD with me. Even after searching for quite some time online I was not able to find a suitable driver. After this happened to me for a second time, I remembered my other image tank for which I could find drivers online. Socarras Law Firm Boca Raton Injury lawyer

Future residents will be

Future residents will be able to access the nearby Compass Point in Sengkang and Greenwich V in Fernvale Link which is a short drive away for some family fun and gatherings. A truly unique lifestyle awaits you.

Skypark Residences is also

Skypark Residences is also near elite schools such as Singapore American School, Wellington Primary School, Canberra Primary School and Endeavour Primary School.
It is also near to Singapore Sports School and Innova Junior College.
Skypark Residences Location

Good job. Thanks for

Good job. Thanks for sharing. Very useful tool.

sams

This is how I got my digital partner: I found it lying on the ground next to a railroad track in the Netherlands. I decided to use it myself. I could charge the battery through the USB port on my tablet pc but now the battery is dead and I would like to order spareparts (AC adapter and battery). Is this possible in Europe? It's such a waste to throw it away!cara memperbaiki hardisk
cara memperbaiki flashdisk

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

More information about formatting options