Thursday, July 14, 2005

Review: MediaGear 40GB portable storage device (hard drive/card reader)

Abridged version: Run for your f*cking lives. Don't touch this piece of shit (or it's 60GB big brother) with a 10' pole. Read on for more...


This is a review I wrote for in November, about 12:30am when I *really* needed to be in bed...but I couldn't delay getting it down on paper, as it were. All the sentiments and emotions still hold true. I gave the company another try (cautiously) with it's 60GB version, and it behaved almost exactly the same way, requiring me to rescue files via data recovery programs (this time I was smart enough to leave copies of the pix on my laptop, unlike the SF episode detailed below). Also, this time, I was smarter in that I fdisked and formatted and scanned and surface scanned the drive before leaving home. Wish that would have helped. So without further ado...

I am so fuious, I am shaking as I type this. I have just returned from a trip across the country to San Francisco CA and this piece of junk unit nearly cost me 20% of the photos I took!!!

I shooot with a Canon 20D and both a 512MB and 1GB Kingston CF card. I have been using this setup since the 20D's release a couple of months ago with NO problems or corrupt files or anything similar.

On the trip to CA, I shot over 1,200 shots in a week. At one point, I encountered a problem dumping the 1GB card to the unit. The unit reported "data transfer error" at about 13% of the transfer. Since I could not empty the card, I could either format it and lose everything on it, or leave the pics on it, and use only the 512MB card. I took the second option.

So I unhappily limped through my vacation like that. Upon returning home, I attached the unit to my computer. Over 20% of the directories showed up as empty, or corrupt (these were directories which appeared to transfer fine in the filed!!!). I nearly fainted. Luckily (being an IT professional), I was able to mostly rescue 186 files (608MB of data), although some of those are destroyed images. All of the recovered files were recovered as Windows "CHK" files (after a few disk checks). Non-geeks would have been hard pressed to recover much without professional help.

Bottom line, when I ran Windows disk checks on the unit, it came back with *numerous* errors. Inexcusable! My unit was purchased new and was babied every step of the way. I even tested out the transfer of both JPG and RAW (CR2) files before leaving home. I guess I should have run full scandisks against the thing too. Lesson learned.

So, final word: run away from this unit. I don't care how good of a deal you think you're getting. I would not trust it to hold up my coffee table any more. Once I'm sure I've saved all I can from it, I'm fdisking and formatting it and it's going back to the store it came from. It's a shame. The unit cost the same as another model with half of the storage capacity. Guess the old adage "you get what you pay for" holds true here.

Buy something else. Trust me on this one.