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Giga Vu PRO evolution: a breakthrough pro product? - Continued

The End: The IR receiver and power jack, as well as the 5-way multicontroller and small built-in speaker (Photo by Rob Galbraith/Little Guy Media)

Powering the Device The Giga Vu PRO evolution includes a rechargeable, user-swappable 2200 mAh Li-Ion battery as well as an AC adapter/charger. At PMA, Jobo representatives were quoting battery life at about 5-8 hours of typical use that doesn't include movie playback. The battery is accessible through a door in the bottom of the device. Changing the battery is not the typical slide-out, slide-in affair one would expect. Instead, the procedure is more akin to swapping the battery in a cordless phone handset, complete with a tiny and somewhat finicky circuit board connector, though there are no screws to loosen first on the Giga Vu PRO evolution. It should be easier than it is to change the battery, though the nimble-fingered photographer will probably have no problems quickly swapping in a fresh pack.

Behind a Closed Door:The Giga Vu PRO evolution is powered by a 2200 mAh Li-Ion battery (Photo by Rob Galbraith/Little Guy Media)

The battery itself will be an accessory available for dealers to stock (as opposed to a service part). Plus, the optional Jobo Giga Vu PRO Power Pack will both power the Giga Vu PRO evolution and charge its internal battery simultaneously. And we expect that the Digital Camera Battery and other similar packs used by photographers will be able to power the device too.

Operating System The Giga Vu PRO evolution's Linux operating system, including all custom code, is stored not on the hard drive but in non-volatile flash memory, which means that if the hard drive is replaced the operating system doesn't have to be reloaded as well. The device includes basic hard drive repair, maintenance and formatting functions, and the operating system can be reloaded or upgraded through user-installed firmware updates.

Jobo's plan is to release a firmware update for the existing Giga Vu PRO that will bring a number of the Giga Vu PRO evolution's capabilities to the older model, including image caching and enhanced copy features. Any changes that are dependent on new hardware in the Giga Vu PRO evolution will not be ported to the Giga Vu PRO.

Protective Cover The Giga Vu PRO evolution will ship with a rubbery cover that keeps the screen and controls protected while the device is on the move. The cover can be attached to the base of the Giga Vu PRO evolution when it's in use, which not only provides a bit of additional shock protection but it also mutes the vibration of the hard drive (the vibration is otherwise quite noticeable when holding the device). With the help of some gaffer tape, the cover should also serve as a partial ambient light shield for the screen.

Under Cover: The protective rubbery cover of the Giga Vu PRO evolution. Note that the name badge on the non-final unit we photographed at PMA is from the existing Giga Vu PRO, though the unit itself was the newer evolution version (Photo by Rob Galbraith/Little Guy Media)


As a category of products, most photo storage devices have seemed relatively expensive for the value they provide; in fact, our own counsel previously, to photographers considering one of the more pricey big-screen models in this category, has been to weigh whether an ultra-compact used laptop would be a better purchase. That's because we've been unimpressed with the paucity of features and pokey performance in class leaders like the Epson P-4000, as well as units from lesser-known makers.

Based on what we've learned about the Giga Vu PRO evolution from our exchanges with Erwin Emmers from Philips, and some face time with a couple of unfinished units at PMA 2006 last month, we have our fingers and toes crossed that this device is going to turn out to be as great as the early evidence suggests. If production units of the Giga Vu Pro evolution works as advertised, this could finally be a photo storage device we can both use and also comfortably recommend as being a good value for the working pro. On both fronts that would truly be a breakthrough, and we can't wait for the arrival here of a production-level Giga Vu PRO evolution.

Manufacturing of the Giga Vu PRO evolution is to commence at a facility in the Philippines this month, with the first volume retail shipments slated to appear on dealer shelves in April 2006. The manufacter's suggested list price (MSRP) in the U.S. is US$495 for the 40GB, US$695 for the 80GB and US$895 for the 120GB (expect the street price for each model to be very close to these numbers). In Europe, MSRP including VAT is €495 for the 40GB, €695 for the 80GB and €895 for the 120GB. It will ship with a USB cable, DVI adapter cable, AC charger, battery, earphones, protective cover and user guide.

More information on the Giga Vu PRO evolution is on the Jobo AG web site, as well as in a white paper on the device prepared for us by Erwin Emmers (and posted for download here with his permission).


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Thanks to Erwin Emmers of Philips Applied Technologies, as well as Michaela Dietrich, Lynda Walker and Johannes Bockemühl-Simon of Jobo AG, for their assistance in the preparation of this article.

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