Updated: Belkin responds to Media Reader file transfer issue | iLounge News

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Updated: Belkin responds to Media Reader file transfer issue

Brian VanHarlingen, Sr. Technology Manager for Belkin has submitted an official statement to iLounge regarding Belkin’s position on the Media Reader transfer issue.

A reader at dpreview.com has discovered that transferring large files from large capacity compact flash cards is a slow process. A 500MB file transferred from card to Media Reader took 22 minutes. Other transfer tests indicate slow speeds as well - about 1 minute to transfer a 20MB file at 0.300MB per second. Belkin has acknowledged that there is a problem with large file transfers. Belkin is said to be working with Apple to solve the problem. If it’s an hardware issue, Belkin says it will replace the units. If it’s a software issue, Apple will most likely release a firmware update.

Statement:

It’s a pleasure to hear from you.  Most of us here at Belkin have become regular, daily and sometimes hourly, visitors to iLounge.com throughout our product development and launch process.  Your site is an extremely valuable source of feedback for us.

In regards to your questions, Belkin does not have any plans to modify the hardware design of the Media Reader for iPod in the immediate future. The current product balances several hardware considerations, including street price, transfer speed, battery life and portability, with software considerations. Design decisions have been made to address the needs of the largest percentage of owners of digital cameras and iPods, and we believe the product to be successful in doing so.

The Media Reader for iPod is optimized for the majority of digital camera users, shooting images of 1MB-3MB in size, and using the predominant sizes of memory cards being purchased today at retail: 64MB and 128MB. The transfer speed we are seeing on the current media reader hardware is, with most media brands/types and using iPod software version 2.1, a little over 300KBps. This results in a transfer time of between five and six minutes for a full 128MB card. There is the possibility of modest speed increases via software; however, we cannot speculate on the likelihood of any software optimizations being introduced.

The iPod has always been first and foremost a digital music player. We welcomed and thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to work with Apple to bring additional utility to iPod owners, including the current digital wallet capabilities, and hope that these products bring great value to their users. 

Note that we are adding information to the FAQs on our website addressing Media Reader speed today, copied from some of what I’ve written here.  If you have any other questions, please feel free to contact me.

Thanks,
Brian VanHarlingen
Sr. Technology Manager

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Comments

41

I’ll add my name to the list of disappointed would-be-buyers.

I have an old USB Digital Wallet I won’t use because of the lack of speed with USB. Not about to drop 100 bucks on a solution that’s no better.

Tighten up Belkin or lose lots of sales. i’m tired of dragging my iBook on shoots.

Posted by Zack on October 31, 2003 at 5:06 AM (PDT)

42

I’ve contacted both Apple and Belkin about this product. They need to fix the speed issue and for me at least they REALLY need to add Memory Stick Pro support as most new Sony cameras are using this to handle the 256MB and larger sizes. I recommend sending comments to Belkin and Apple asking them to support MS-Pro and open up the transfer speed.

Belkin = .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Apple = http://www.apple.com/feedback/ipod.html

Let them know how you feel about this and tell apple to either let anyone make a quality reader or else make Belkin fix theirs.

Posted by zelig2 on October 31, 2003 at 7:27 AM (PDT)

43

I have to say that I am not sure who is at fault, but this whole thing reeks of Apples closed, secretive nature. On the whole I understand why they are such a closed and protective place, but in the case of the ipod it’s just bad business.

Imagine if apple had released an open SDK a year or two ago. By now there would be hundreds of applications doing everything thinkable and the new players from, Dell and Samsung would have a whole lot more catch up to do.

Nobody wants the iPod to be more versatile and useful than the iPod community. Why doesn’t Apple exploit that fact? If Apple was a girl she’d be the really pretty one that can’t figure out why everyone is always looking at her.

I am sure they had Belkin by the balls through the development and I don’t imagine “market research” is all that easy under a NDA (or the fear of pissing off your companies main livelihood).

I have to say that I am really disappointed with the products Belkin released. It does not seem like there was much planning before creating either the Mic or the Card Reader. The Mic is useless for recording lectures, or hifi sound (and these are the things that people most wanted). The card reader is to slow and bulky. I could keep rambling, but hey you are bored.

So yeah. Sounds like an unhealthy development environment created these problems.

Posted by yoyo on October 31, 2003 at 7:52 AM (PDT)

44

Considering that the PortalPlayer PP50XX platform (the basis for the iPod hardware) was designed several years ago with “Direct memory interfaces to all major removable media types including Memory Stick®, MultiMediaCard, SmartMedia™ Card, CompactFlash™, DataPlay, and Iomega® PocketZip™”, it seems that Apple and Belkin had to conspire very carefully to deliver such bad performance.

http://www.portalplayer.com/products/products_01.htm

http://www.portalplayer.com/products/fact.htm

http://www.designchain.com/coverstory.asp?issue=summer02

I also noticed that even after runaway sales, Apple have not yet integrated the disparate PortalPlayer and other functions into a single ASIC. Doing so would reduce power consumption and reduce form factor even more. Without an integrated ASIC, the power-draining properties of the Belkin Media Reader are accentuated.

“What Apple conspicuously did not do is use an ASIC or other custom chip to integrate all the functions it needed onto one piece of silicon, which would have presumably saved space and battery life.

“Like with many of the systems being done today, it has time-to-market and risk-management issues,” Carey notes. When a company moves to a custom system-on-chip, “you run the risk of a design flaw, and it’s far cheaper to buy the best [components].”

PortalPlayer’s vice president for marketing, Michael Maia, can’t publicly disclose why Apple and PortalPlayer decided not to use an ASIC or discuss other aspects of the iPod design, but his description of a generic systems customer in the marketplace could be considered applicable to Apple.”

Posted by Techie on October 31, 2003 at 9:32 AM (PDT)

45

I’d like to point the finger back at Apple on this one.  I just got my reader yesterday and have had a chance to run a few tests.  Transfer rate?  On par with my Nixvue DA Lite digital wallet (60GB).  Transfer rate?  If you’re a serious digital photographer, you’ve got a few large cards (I have 4- 1GB microdrives) and you’re downloading 1 card into the wallet while you’re shooting on another.  That’s the system that all my pro friends use and it works for me.  The issue is the iPod batter life.  I get 1 (one!) full 1GB transfer before the iPod battery dies.  Basically useless.  And since you can’t connect either AC power OR the external AA battery adapter at the same time as the reader, the workflow is- download 1GB card, recharge iPod for 8 hours, download 1GB card, recharge iPod for 8 hours…  As a pro digital photographer, I’ll be holding onto my Nixvue (with external battery adapter I get 16 full 1GB transfers, then just pop in 8 fresh AAs and am good to go again) and returning this reader ASAP.  So albeit Apple isn’t to blame for the fact that you can’t use the external battery pack and reader at the same time, but the iPod battery should be able to do more than 1GB.  And it seems strange that it can’t considering I can get about 20GB (of 40 total) transfered on 1 battery charge via regular firewire. 

If you are a casual photographer who uses 128MB cards, this device will work fine for you.  If you are a serious amateur or pro with a DSLR (esp. if you shoot RAW) we’ll need a new cable connector that’ll allow the iPod external battery pack and the reader to connect at the same time before this thing will really be useful at all.

Posted by Ian on November 7, 2003 at 8:19 AM (PDT)

46

> If you are a casual photographer who uses 128MB cards, this device will work fine for you.

If you are a casual user of these small cards, then for the price of this terrible reader you can buy,what, four 128MB cards at today’s prices. Or go for two 256MB one. Either way you’ll get a lot more use and redundancy from multiple cards than from this clunky “solution”.

Posted by shutterbug on November 7, 2003 at 10:02 AM (PDT)

47

here is the email i sent off to both belkin and apple:

——

Dear Whomever Cares,

As a pseudo professional photographer, I thought (thought being the key word) your media adapter would be a god send. I purchased the reader last night, and have used it a bit. Quite frankly I am horribly disappointed. The transfer speeds are possibly lower than that of a USB 1.1 reader and the battery usage is not the greatest (although thats expected given the ipod’s lowish battery performance).

I will be returning this product to the store I bought it at as a very disappointed customer. My recommendation:

Do not advertise firewire speeds if you are not fully using that speed. It is misleading. And technically illegal I believe.

From what I have read, I am not the only disappointed user, I suggest working on a solution as to not completely alienate customers.

Thanks,

Jason Harbour

——-

I suggest that we all send emails…. repeatedly and often. If we want a solution we must demand it.

as they say “grab them by the balls and squeeze”

please please belkin and apple fix this :(

Posted by Jason H. on November 9, 2003 at 6:03 AM (PDT)

48

This just ruined my plans for buying a new 40 GB iPod with media Reader.  I have several digital cameras, including a 1 GB flash card. No way will I wait 40 minutes to transfer and replace batteries every 2 or 3 transfers. Oh well. Back to the drawing board.  Bad marketing and planning on Belkins part. Apple should have not allowed them to do this at this speed. Obviously this was not designed by anyone that knew anything about photography!

Posted by James Perdue on November 9, 2003 at 7:38 AM (PDT)

49

“This just ruined my plans for buying a new 40 GB iPod with media Reader. I have several digital cameras, including a 1 GB flash card.”

Get the Lyra with video and CF built-in. You’ll be much happier, and carrying less gadgets.

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/B00008VFCU/

or one of the camera-oriented gadgets here;

http://shanebrinkmandavis.com/homepage/JBMM/Competition/

Posted by shutterbug on November 9, 2003 at 8:59 AM (PDT)

50

Hey shutterbug, the Lyra is 350 dollars. I think the idea here is if you already have an iPod the 100 dollar cost on the Belkin would make it an attractive addition.

Truly super serious digital pros have solutions ranging from various digital wallets, to full sized (and mini) laptops. The Belkin was supposed to be for the rest of us. It doesn’t even fit the “low end” that it was designed for. If the Lyra was say 150 then the Belkin would be as good as dead.

We all want a low cost addition to the iPod not a replacement for the iPod.

Still has anyone had the time or courage to try hooking up a standard FireWire card reader to the iPod yet. Given that you have to power it independently probably by cutting a wire or two.

Posted by E. Gray on November 9, 2003 at 9:18 AM (PDT)

51

I think this guy had not yet bought the 40GB iPod so “shutterbug” was saying avoid buying it altogether.

But if not, then the resale value of a 40GB iPod would be enough to buy a Lyra, it seems, as long as it wasn’t too scratched or the battery too run down.

Posted by Kuan on November 9, 2003 at 11:23 AM (PDT)

52

Thanks for all the information about this poorly designed device.  It looks like a lot of companies are doing these lately.  I’m posting RCA Lyra information to prevent people from making the same mistake I did. I agree with many of the postings above that we need to get the truth out about the crap that is being sold to the public.  I too hope that the more we complain the manufacturers will listen.

I had a RCA Lyra for about 12 days before I realized it is a POS as well.  It is being returned this weekend.  Don’t believe any of the stuff above about the Lyra being useful as a digital photo wallet.  It cannot copy all the contents of the compact flash card at once (it is promised in future firmware upgrades).  Transferring images from my CF is painfully slow.  In addition many other functions do not work on the Lyra.  In addition, I spent 45 minutes on their product support line (toll number) trying to resolve an issue.  Not only was the rep. unknowledgeable but she told me they do NOT have technical support they only do “basic troubleshooting.”

DO NOT BUY THE LYRA!!!
DO NOT BUY THE LYRA!!!
DO NOT BUY THE LYRA!!!

Posted by Scrubby on December 5, 2003 at 3:39 PM (PDT)

53

Really sorry to hear about your Lyra. Maybe one day someone will get it right. Though I know about the other solutions like the Digital Wallet, I want to go for something cheaper and frankly better.

Posted by Everette on December 5, 2003 at 3:47 PM (PDT)

54

FlashTrax

http://www.dpreview.com/news/0303/03030217smartdiskflashtrax.asp

http://www.smartdisk.com/Products/DigitalMultimedia/FlashTrax.asp

Posted by FlashTrax on December 5, 2003 at 4:23 PM (PDT)

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