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Aleratec Copy Cruiser Plus

The Aleratec Copy Cruiser Plus is an interesting, palm-sized device for digital camera users.  It can copy from various types of cards and drives to other drives - without use of a computer.  It can:

  • Copy from a USB-equipped digital camera to a USB drive (including an Ipod), Compact Flash card, Memory Stick, Memory Stick Pro, Memory Stick Duo (with adapter), or Smart Memory/MMC card;
  • Copy a Compact Flash card to a USB drive;
  • Copy a USB drive to a Compact Flash card;
  • Copy an SD, Memory Stick, Memory Stick Pro, Memory Stick Duo, or Smart Memory/MMC to a USB drive;
  • Copy an SD, Memory Stick, Memory Stick Pro, Memory Stick Duo, or Smart Memory/MMC card to a Compact Flash card;
  • Copy one USB drive to another; or
  • Act as a USB 2.0 card reader for a computer.  It can simultaneously hook up (2) USB drives, (1) Compact Flash card and (1) SD, Memory Stick, Memory Stick Duo, or Smart Memory/MMC card.

Not only can you do those things; you can also do it on a folder-by-folder or file-by-file basis using the unit's backlit display screen and touch pad.  This allows you to perform flexible on-site backups without a computer.  You can also delete specific files without connecting to a computer.  File transfers between cards and USB devices seem to run a bit over 300K-600K/second.  Not Firewire 800 speed but perfectly adequate for backups.  File transfers between cards and computers (when the unit is used as a card reader) are typical USB 2.0 speeds.

The key limitation is power.  The Copy Cruiser runs on three AAA batteries.  Although it can copy comfortably between devices that have their own power (like digital cameras, disk drives that plug into the wall, and Ipods) or between solid state devices (thumb drives or various memory cards), it cannot power something as high drain as a Hitachi Compact Flash microdrive.  Used properly, battery life is decent (you can get at least 2 4gb copies out of one set of alkalines).  Triple A batteries, especially the lithium ones, are very lightweight.

This unit is definitely worth looking into due to the shortcomings of the alternatives when traveling.  Ipods can be used to store photos with the Camera Connector, but copying consumes large amounts of battery power, the files compete for space with your music and video files, there is no way to verify successful copying of RAW files, and there is no way to delete anything.  Using the Aleratec with the Ipod in disk mode is a better idea.

Hard-drive based products like Image Tanks are, in my experience, poor choices.  They are large, they are heavy, their 2.5" disk drives are expensive, and the units consume a lot of power.  Worse, their lithium-ion batteries - which charge so quickly - also quickly self-discharge.  When traveling, you need to carry a wall charger, which adds a lot of weight.

The Aleratec allows you to concentrate on whatever solid-state flash memory is cheapest and allows you to leave the heavy charging equipment at home.  It works reliably and reasonably quickly.  Thumbs up!