Editorial - State of the Portable Storage Market

Started May 26, 2004 | Discussions thread
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LeeLove
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Editorial - State of the Portable Storage Market
May 26, 2004

wbee's post about the Nikon Coowalker caused me to put down some thoughts about the current PSD market.

http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/read.asp?forum=1023&message=8856442

Is it just me or does $700 for a PSD seem ridiculous ? What is Nikon thinking ?

$700 is BIG premium just for handheld portability. For $200 or $300 more you can buy a real laptop. Now granted you can't easily throw this in your bag but give me a break.

How can a company make a 15" laptop with a 40gig drive including paying the PC Tax to Microsoft, a 3-5 hour battery, USB, Ethernet, DVD/CDRW, etc for $900 and Nikon (and everyone else) can't sell a portable storage device with a 2.5" screen for $200 ?

Something is wrong with this picture (no-pun intended) and I can't believe the market research shows that at $700 the market is that big.

Also there is just not that much engineering that goes into one of these things. A device like this at a minimum only has to do 3 things really well:

1. Copy Files
2. Track Disk Space
3. Preview Images

How hard could this be ?

I admit it, I don't get it. I know you guys have heard me say this before but I will keep repeating it. Why is it I can buy a portable DVD player with a 7" screen and 3 hour battery life for $199 and I can't buy a portable storage device for the same price ?

From everything I can see the current line of PSD's are all a compromise. The functionality is limited at best and they all seem to be half baked products that are struggling to find a niche market. Some have stretched the capability to include MP3 and video playback in order to appeal to a broader audience but it appears this generally puts two mediocre features into one box instead of focusing on doing one thing really well.

So now that I have got that off my chest here are some constructive comments on what a PSD should have in order to be truly successful.

In order of importance.

1. Reliability, Reliability, Reliability

We are not talking about storing a bunch of bootleg MP3's. Most of us have spent $1000'ss of dollars cameras, lenses and other gear in order to capture these images. This does not include the $1000 that sometimes it cost to get to and from where you are going to shoot these images.

So after all of this expense what do we do ? We shove our precious images into a slot and watch flashing lights or animated icons as they suck all of our hard work into a black box.

Above all a PSD must be reliable.

2. Rugged

Shouldn't a PSD look like a tank ?

This is one of the reasons why I can't understand why these cute little boxes are not rubberized ! What the heck to do I care if it has some shiny brushed aluminum case. I want this thing to look like a HUMMER not a BMW !!!! I might pay $700 if the case on a PSD was made out of solid billeted aluminum and looked like it could stop a .45 at 25 yards.

3. Made for Digital Photography

This is one area where Nikon or the Delkin eFilm or who ever makes the thing might have a leg up. These devices actually read RAW formats and display Histograms. Wow what a concept !!!

Now there maybe some disagreement on this point but personally I don't want or care if my PSD can store mp3s, video or any thing else other than RAW and JPG images. If it means the price will be more reasonable and I can actually get features that I would use like a screen or histograms then that is what I want.

Now don't get me wrong I love gadgets and maybe its an age thing but right now PSD's remind me of cell phones. I DON'T WANT TO TAKE PICTURES/VIDEO WITH MY CELLPHONE I JUST WANT RELIABLE VOICE COMMUNICATIONS !!!. whew sorry about shouting. Now that I have that over my phone when I can keep a reliable voice conversation from one end of town to the other. What's up with that ?

So all I want is a real portable storage device that does what it says it will do (every time) and has a few basic photography orient features.

4. Value per Dollar

These things do not have be dirt cheap but they have to at least offer comparable value to similar types of technology. I think my examples of the cost of laptops and portable DVD players are equal technologies but unequal pricing.

Let's Think Outside the Box WISH LIST

I think most photographers needs are pretty basic but if I wanted to get wild with a few ideas. How about this for hair brain ideas ...

  • Wireless camera to PSD

I know the Nikon D2H has WiFi so how about extending that to a PSD. Wouldn't it be nice if the camera sensed no activity for 30 sec and started transmitting your images to your PSD ?

  • Raid PSD's

How about the ability to plug two devices together and by putting a CF into one readers it copies/mirrors the images on two PSD's at the same time. At $200 each (which is what they should be) you could afford two PSD's. Once again focusing on reliability or if you were shooting for publication you could send them the secondary PSD and you would still have a mirror copy.

I could come up with a few more wild ideas but how about you, what do you think the future should hold for a PSD ?

The bottom line in my opinion is the Digital Photography market is huge and getting bigger every day. The potential market for a reliable, low cost portable storage device is at least as big as the market dslr's. If you own a dslr you or more than likely a potential customer of a PSD.

Right now there are dozens of little guys trying to feed around the edges of this market with niche products. There were be dozens more who get into this market before it starts to consolidate and the real players rise to the surface. I suggest it will take companies like Sony, Toshiba or another large player who has not even entered the market yet to make the product described above a reality.

Lee

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