It’s been awhile since we’ve turned a curious eye at the subject of the iPod as Image Storage Device. A post from a Playlist forum member prompts me to revisit the state of the art. Member masterphotog writes:
I am a pro photog and have purchased a 30GB iPod Video. Does anyone make a card reader for transferring files directly from a CF card to the iPod — it would be great to be able to do this when on location.
At one time, Belkin, with its Digital Camera Link for iPod w/Dock Connector and Media Reader for iPod w/Dock Connector, was the only game in town. If you needed to download pictures from a digital camera or media card (but not view those pictures on the iPod) this was the only avenue. The Media Reader for iPod w/Dock Connector has since been discontinued and the Digital Camera Link for iPod w/Dock Connector isn’t compatible with modern iPods.
In the Spring of 2005, Apple released its $29
iPod Camera Connector. This small dongle, compatible with full-sized iPod’s with a color display—meaning the iPod photo, the 4G iPods with color displays, and the 5G iPod, but not the nano. The iPod Camera Connector is compatible with cameras that support the Mass Storage, PTP, and Type 4 (Normal) transfer protocols. Some media card readers are also supported. Apple suggests those that are self-powered are the likeliest to work.
Apple’s Camera Connector scheme isn’t perfect. For example, it works like a champ with my 60GB 5G iPod and 60GB iPod photo, but I get nothing but a Connection Failed message when I use it with my 30GB 5G iPod. Even after restoring the iPod, it and the camera connector simply don’t see eye to eye with cameras that work with my other iPods. I’ve seen a few similar complaints on Apple’s Discussion forums. With that in mind I might bring my camera and iPod into an Apple Store to give them a try with the Connector to be sure they worked.
Unlike the Belkin devices before it, the iPod Camera Connector takes its power from the iPod and this may not be such a good thing if you’re transferring a lot of pictures. Doing so burns up the iPod’s charge in a hurry. But, also unlike the Belkin devices, the iPod Camera Connector lets you view some of your camera’s images on the iPod without them first being processed by iTunes. And by “some” I mean everything except movie files and RAW images. Although the iPod will download RAW images, it can’t display them until they’ve been processed by iTunes.
Except for the existence of the 5G iPod, this was state of the art a little over a year ago. What’s changed?
As I mentioned, the Belkin stuff has pretty much gone the way of the dodo and your single option is the iPod Camera Connector.
Why nothing new?
Send your questions to Cupertino.
The short story is that Apple controls the iPod’s dock connector and its many mysteries. Apple alone determines who can use the dock connector and for what purposes. Those allowed to use it must cough up a percentage of sales to Apple for doing so.
If an enterprising body approached Apple with a media reader option—say one that was self-powered and offered faster transfer speeds—Apple has the option to say “Thanks all the same, we’ve got this one covered.”
From a business perspective it makes sense. Apple takes in every bit of profit to be had from such a device rather than just the dock connector tariff levied on those it’s licensed to produce such a thing. Granted, it limits consumers choices but Apple feels that it’s their game. If you want to play, you play by its rules.