Digital Wallet Review
Here are the key performance questions: "How long is it going to take to download a card full of images" and "How long is it going to last in the field?".
Digital Wallet Download Timing
Timings below were performed using a full card of images and timed from the moment the "Start Download" option was selected to the moment the display returned to the download menu. Each test was performed 3 times and speed calculated as an average.
|Delkin Devices CF Type I||128 MB||Supplied CF > PC Card||1.33 MB/s||1 min 36 secs|
|IBM Microdrive CF Type II||340 MB||IBM Microdrive > PC Card||1.53 MB/s||3 mins 42 secs|
|Sony MemoryStick *||64 MB||Sony MSAC-PC2 > PC Card||-||-|
|OEM SmartMedia||32 MB||FujiFilm PC-AD3 > PC Card||1.10 MB/s||29 secs|
* At this stage the Digital Wallet was having problems with the MSAC-PC2, unable to read the MemoryStick using this adapter and returning various error messages. We're assured this problem will be resolved with a simple firmware update.
Download performance was impressive, much faster than my parallel port PC Card reader (approx 500 KB/s) and even faster than the PCMCIA port on my Sony Vaio notebook (approx 1.2 MB/s) with the IBM Microdrive. We did note that uploading was much slower, uploading a full 128 MB back to the Delkin 128MB CF card took 3 mins 13 seconds ( just 0.66 MB/s).
Transfer speeds in Windows 2000
These tests were performed to evaluate how long it would take to download data from the Digital Wallet once you get home (or back to your notebook). Obviously all these tests were performed over USB. Each test was performed 3 times and speed calculated as an average.
||Device||Reading speed||Writing speed|
|Windows 2000 Server||Desktop PC||0.75 MB/s||0.62 MB/s|
|Windows 2000 Professional||Sony Vaio Notebook||0.75 MB/s||0.62 MB/s|
Thus to download 256 MB of data from the Digital Wallet back to your PC would take 5 minutes, 40 seconds. To download the full 5.5 GB of potential storage of the Digital Wallet would take 2 hours, 5 minutes and 9 seconds (not a big deal if you've just come back from holiday...).
Note: although the USB transfer speeds seem slow it's possible they may be improved by firmware updates to the device or newer USB drivers.
The manual states battery life as "140 minutes average use". In an attempt to establish more accurately exactly how long the Wallet would indeed last we performed two distinct tests: (note these test were performed after several full discharge and charge cycles of the battery packs, typically NiMH battery packs do not perform at their best until they have been through the charge cycle a few times).
Harder Than Average Consumer Use Test
Called such because it requires the Digital Wallet to download 80 MB of data every 10 minutes (equivalent of say 50 images shot with a 3 megapixel digicam every 10 minutes). Between sessions the unit is allowed to go down to it's standby state (this occurs after 30 seconds of inactivity).
Results - When we started this test we didn't really expect the Wallet to last more than four or five hours. Bear in mind it's being powered up every 10 minutes and asked to download 80 MB of data.. And it surprised us, lasting an amazing eight and a half hours in this test and downloading a total of 51 sessions of the 80 MB of data (total 4 GB) before the battery finally gave up. An excellent performance, and these results alone tell us that the Digital Wallet should be able to support you for a full day (or even two) of shooting before needing a recharge.
Harder Than Average Professional Use Test
Almost identical to the above test this time we used a 340 MB IBM Microdrive (known to have higher power requirements than flash ram) with a full 340 MB of data on it. This was downloaded to the Digital Wallet every 10 minutes. Between sessions the unit is allowed to go down to it's standby state (this occurs after 30 seconds of inactivity). The extra power requirements of the Microdrive combined with the longer download time (340 MB; four minutes vs. 80 MB; one minute for the above test) should produce a much shorter battery life.
Results - Yes, this one was much tougher on the Digital Wallet, as each download session took about 5 minutes and the Microdrive has a much higher current drain the Digital Wallet only managed to keep going for two hours with a total 12 downloads, still a respectable 4 GB in total.
USB Battery Thrash Test
This one is a little more severe, although on the previous page I'd noted not to use the device on battery power when connected by USB, it's likely we'll have to do this at some stage (no power socket nearby for example). This test was executed using a simple script file which copied a folder of 100 MB worth of JPEG images onto the Digital Wallet, flushed the computers file cache then copied them back again, erased all the data on the Digital Wallet and started again. This test ensures constant activity on the Digital Wallet and is designed to stress test the battery pack.
Results - The Digital Wallet did very well in this test, with it's small 650 mAH battery pack we didn't expect it to last long, and indeed within about 20 minutes the battery level had already dipped below 60%. Strangely the lower the battery level went the longer the Wallet seemed to last (until it got to about 15% when you could almost count the digits going down). Overall in this test the Digital Wallet lasted 1 hour 30 minutes.
Battery Charge Test
Not a complicated one this, we simply wanted to time how long a full charge takes (the manual states 2.5 hours).
Results - We found this to be closer to 3.5 hours, but as it's unlikely you'll be recharging the unit from completely flat you can estimate around 2 hours (NiMH batteries have no memory effect and so can be charged at any time - though they prefer to be "kept hot" as they loose charge quicker when not in use).