March 16, 2008

Wolverine ESP Review

Wolverine ESP

Mar 16, 2008 by Steve
Wolverine ESP

4 out of 5 stars
I have an upcoming trip out of the country where I will be taking a lot of pictures with my digital camera, but do not want to take my laptop. Because of this, I wanted to have a place to store my photos in case my Compact Flash card gets full or if I get such an amazing picture that I want to back it up and not take the chance of losing it. I also liked the idea of having something that I could listen to music with in a variety of formats and being able to see the pictures I saved on there.

I looked at the Wolverine ESP, Digital Foci Picture Porter Elite, and Epson P-3000.

I tossed out the Epson P-3000 for a couple of reasons: I wanted to listen to uncompressed audio files, where compression alters the audio too much, and it was more expensive than models of the Wolverine ESP and Digital Foci Picture Porter Elite where I could get more storage space.

I decided upon the Wolverine ESP not only because it had the features I desired, but because I was a little more familiar with their products; my photography teacher uses a Wolverine FlashPac for storing his photos while on the go.

Look and feel

The Wolverine ESP feels solid and comfortable in my hands. I have not used any product besides a computer and laptop that has a hard disk in it, so it felt very strange turning it on for the first time, as I could feel the hard drive working. It feels like a slight vibration, but nothing that has me concerned about the hard drive. The screen is a nice size and is well lit. A hold switch can prevent the ESP from accidentally turning on as well. It can take a while to get used to the joystick navigation - sometimes I was not pressing down hard enough for it to act as a selection button, but that is the only problem I have come across.

Picture backup

I inserted my Compact Flash card into the ESP with no problem. I have seen some complaints about how far the card sticks out, but I do not see this as a problem for me, as I will be paying attention to the environment around me when I do a transfer and will most likely do it indoors when I am not around a lot of people. The ESP will copy the pictures off of the card; you will have to delete the photos on the card via your camera if you want to clear off some space. I copied RAW files over (from a Canon Digital Rebel XT) and was able to view them just fine. While viewing a picture, the ESP will show the histogram for the photo in the lower left corner.

Audio

The ESP played back audio files with no problem. While the internal speaker on the ESP is okay and comes with earbud headphones, I will be using higher end headphones to listen to audio.

Video

I get mixed results when it comes to playing video on the ESP, though I do not plan on using this feature much. Out of 5 videos I tried to play that are within the specifications given in the ESP manual, I could only get 3 to play. The other 2 videos would try to load and then kick me back out to the file menu. For those videos that did play, I perceived no problems.

FM radio

If you want to use the FM radio on the ESP, be warned. The FM radio functionality requires the use of the earbuds that come with the ESP, as it uses the earbud cable as an antenna. This is the most disappointing feature I came across on the ESP. I do not want to use the earbuds for listening to audio and do not want to carry them around for the sake of radio. And what happens if you lose the earbuds? It sounds like you are out of luck.

Conclusion

While the ESP comes with other functions, such as photo playback, audio recording, and video recording, I have no intention of using these. The FM radio is disappointing, though I never really planned on using it - I will stick to radios in hotels instead. Playing video is a mixed bag - I will have to try videos ahead of time to see what works and what does not. It does work just fine for my planned main uses - photo backup and playing audio, so I am pleased with that.

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