Belkin Digital Camera Link
If you're a third-generation (or newer) iPod-toting digital camera owner, you can take advantage of your iPod's ability to store digital photos with Belkin's $80 Digital Camera Link. This battery-powered device has about the same mass as an iPod (3.8 by 2.3 by 0.8 inches; 4.8 ounces) and serves as an interface between your USB mass-storage-class camera and your iPod. Simply connect the Link's dock connector to the iPod, use the USB cable that came with your camera to connect it to the Link, press the indented button, and the contents on your camera's media card will be transferred to your iPod, thus freeing up your media card for more photos.
Matching the iPod in color--but not in style--the Digital Camera Link runs on two AA batteries and communicates with the user via three LEDs that light up in either red or green. Without the manual, the series of flashing lights simply looks like a light show and can cause confusion. Luckily, a chart on the device's backside helps you decode the messages, which range from "connected to iPod" (single green LED) and "transferring data" (three flashing LEDs) to "low battery" (single red LED) to "incompatible source" (first and third red flashing LEDs).
Much of the perceived transfer action is based on these flashing lights, and it can be difficult to gauge progress, especially since you can't actually see the photos on the iPod itself. For added assurance, a data-verification feature double-checks that the transferred data matches the data on the card, though we think an LCD would be a handier feature. iPod Photo owners should understand that photos are transferred only as data files, and you can only see them on the device once you've synced with iTunes. After you've transferred your photos, you'll see the data represented as rolls on your iPod, which can be deleted or transferred to a computer later.
Compatible with most new cameras (including major players such as Nikon, Kodak, Olympus, and Sony), the Digital Camera Link really comes in handy when you're out in the field and away from a computer. It's a bit big for our taste, but then again, it's better than carrying a laptop. You can archive as many as 2,000 files in a single session, and the device copies all file types including JPEG, TIFF, and AVI. File-transfer times range from 0.8Mbps to 1.0Mbps, so if you have 256MB of photos, copying them can take a good while--more than 30 minutes. Also, the device is not compatible with Microdrive cards, although if you have one of those, you won't need a Digital Camera Link. Battery life is rated for as many as 24 128MB cards, a reasonable number. You can also check out Belkin's $100 Media Reader, which interfaces with media cards themselves. Or just get an extra media card--they're getting cheaper!