Kanguru Media X-change

Review: The Kanguru Media X-change rescues overzealous digital photographers with a hard drive and support for six removable media formats, observe PC Magazine authors.

The 20GB Kanguru Media X-change 2.0 ($249.95 direct), a versatile mobile problem solver, provides portable hard drive storage and offers reading and writing compatibility with the six most common forms of portable storage media used with devices such as digital cameras and PDAs. Recently updated with USB 2.0 support, the Media X-change also now has an LCD status screen that displays the type of media installed, the current process, device status, and battery and storage capacities. The Media X-change is a handy multifunction device, particularly for people who regularly run out of space for digital images when away from home or the office.

The device measures just 1 by 5 by 3 inches (HWD), and at 8 ounces, is lightweight. The included carrying case has space for removable media and the provided mini-USB cable. Three slots on the front of the device accommodate CompactFlash, Memory Stick, Memory Stick Pro, MultiMediaCard, Secure Digital, Smart Media, and the IBM Microdrive, covering all of the major small removable memory formats, but not Olympus xD Picture Card. The internal lithium-ion battery charges in 3 hours (after an initial 8-hour charge) and will run for 1.6 hours of continuous use according to the company. The device connects to your PC, Mac, or Linux computer via USB 1.1 or 2.0. Windows 98, 98 SE, 2000, and Mac OS systems require the drivers included on CD.

Copying files from portable media to a Kangaru hard drive partition requires no PC, which is one of the major conveniences of the Media X-change. Just insert the media in the proper slot and push the Copy button. Copying 80 JPEG files—a total of 47.4MB—took 57 seconds. The Media X-change copied the same files to a Dell Inspiron 8200 notebook running Windows XP Home Edition in 50 seconds via USB 1.1. Unfortunately, you cant have the Media X-change connected to a PC when you use the Copy button to transfer files from removable media to the device. The CD documentation doesnt make this clear, and there is no printed documentation—not even a summary card to get you started.

The Media X-change worked just fine with memory cards from Kingston, Kodak, Lexar, SanDisk, SimpleTech, and Viking. Convenience and versatility are what the Kanguru Media X-change is all about. Larger-capacity models are available with hard drives up to 80GB ($599.95 direct), but we found the 20GB unit a good compromise between price and capacity.