Fotochute portable storage device by Smartdisk

SUMMARY: This 20 gig portable storage device works great. It’s very light, yet seems to be rugged. A great deal for the price!

After my wife and I had booked our Caribbean cruise, I started examining my photography equipment. I bought a new digital camera, a Nikon Coolpix 7900. It was 7.1 megapixels, and photos in that resolution were about 1.5 to 2 meg each. And video really chewed trough memory (about 14 minutes will store in a 1 gig card). I bought a couple 1 gig memory cards. My father-in-law had a portable storage device, and I thought what a cool idea. He could download the photos into his portable storage device. His portable storage device also had a display that he could view his digital pictures. I looked at portable storage devices like this, and they were hundreds of dollars. Then I found a portable storage device called FotoChute made by Smartdisk. The Fotochute portable storage device had a 20 gigi hard drive. The Fotochute portable storage device had no display but it also cost under $100. While a display would be nice, I mainly wanted a portable storage device that I could download my digital pictures into so that I could free up memory cards. I decided to order one.
The Fotochute portable storage device came quickly. It had a built in rechargable battery, so thet first thing I had to do was charge it up. As it is charging, the little A-B (copy button) LED light was red. When the light went out, it meant the unit was fully charged. The manual that came with the Fotochute portable storage device was little confusing, but I have have seen far worse. I took some test pictures with my camera. In order to use my camera with the portable storage device, I had to chage the “Interface” mode setting in my camera for USB from PTP to Mass Storage. Then I hooked my camera up to the Fotochute portable storage device. I pressed the A-B (copy) button, and it didn’t seem to be working. It was flashing blue slow and steady which according to the manual meant it was copying the photos, or it had an error condition. Since I only had 5 pictures on my camera, it shouldn’t have been copying for very long. After some playing with it, I figured out I hadn’t inserted my USB cable into the Fotochute portable storage device all the way. Once I did this, and pressed the A-B (copy) button on the Fotochute portable storage device, the A-B light began flashing rapidly showing that the pictures were downloading. When the light went out, it meant the pictures were downloading into the portable storage device. I disconnect my camera from the Fotochute, then plugged the Fotochute into the USB port on the from of my computer. The Fotochute portable storage device has a little USB cable built right into it. My computer recognized the new USB device and installed it. To my computer, the Fotochute portable storage device was just another hard drive. I copied the digital pictures from the portable storage device onto my computer, and was able to delete the digital pictures from the portable storage device. Easy.
Unlike the Microsoft Wizard, copying the photos from the Fotochute portable storage device retained the file names that teh Nikon camera had given them.
When our cruise came, I stuffed the Fotochute portable storage device, the charger, the manual, and the USB cable for my Nikon Coolpix 7900 into a zip-lock bag and packed this into my hardsided carry on luggage.
I had taken several days of photos on the cruise ship and in Panama. It wasn’t until we were getting ready to go into Costa Rica where I planned to take a bunch of video on the zip-lining canopy tour that I felt the need to download my picture into the portable storage device. I hooked it up, and the transfer went flawlessly. I was a little nervous about deleting the pictures from my memory card but I did. By the end of the day, I had used up a good chunk the 1 gig memory card I was using. I also discovered that somehow, I only had a 1 gig card, and a half gig card with me. I am not sure where my other 1 gig card went. Anyway, that night I downloaded these new digital pictures and videos into my Fotochute portable storage device. My brother had brought his laptop on the cruise, and we tried to hook the Fotochute portable storage device to his laptop. It would start to connect, and then the laptop gave us an error. We tried another USB port, I got the same thing. I read the manual later that night, and found the Fotochute portable storage device when connected to a computer, is powered completely through the USB port. It might not have been getting enough power. The Fotochute came with a Y USB cable that would allow it to use power from two different USB ports, but I had not brought this on the cruise. So we couldn’t download the picture into his computer. After getting home, and reading the manual more, I am also not positve that I following the correct sequence when hook the Fotochute portable storage device to my brother’s laptop.
Over the cruise, I upload the digital picture into the Fotochute portable storage device three different times. When I got home, and plugged the device into my computer, I was able to copy the digital pictures from the Fotochute portable storage device to my computer’s harddrive with no problems.
Overall I am very happy my Fotochute portable storage device. One thing I would have like to have seen with be a little better display. Even just a simple LCD display with some messages. The unit had only two LED lights, that can flash or change colors, and you need to be able to figure out what they mean. The manual was gernally okay except when it came to these lights. For example, the Copy button will flash blue when copying photos from your camera. It will also flash blue when an error condition occurs. The difference is that when copying with will flash very, very fast. For en error, it will flash at a slow and steady rate. That is where it got confusing. It would be nice to be able to display the photos that are in the Fotochute portable storage device. First, just to confirm they are safely in the Fotochute portable storage device. Second to be able to show them to people while still on vacation. But as I said, I am overall very happy with the Fotochute unit.