A couple of posts ago I mentioned my Nexto M1. I've had a lot of questions about it, so here's my take.
This is my third image tank. I wasted money on the first two. This one's a keeper.
I have the Nexto M1 which is now a couple of generations old. I'm not even sure it's still available. The newest model is the eXtreme.
I'm not sure what the differences are. Other than idle curiosity, I'm not sure I should care — because I've been so happy with my M1 I can't imagine needing anything else.
What it is? Simply put, it's a way to offload the images from your camera's SD or Compact Flash card onto a self-contained, stand-alone, battery operated hard drive. How does it work? Turn it on; plug in the card from your camera; press the button a short press to copy all the files to the Nexto or a long press to move them to the Nexto. Wait until it beeps and then remove the card. In the field, that's about it. It copies a full 16GB card in about 17 minutes and will automatically turn itself off when it's done.
Alternatively, it uses something called OTG which — if your camera is also OTG — allows you to plug a cable from your camera directly into the Nexto and transfer the data without removing the card from your camera. I'm not sure I understand the benefits, but for some people it might be of use.
My Nexto has a 111GB hard drive in it and will copy 60GB on a single charge of the battery. Think about that. I can fill my 16GB camera card and offload it three times and I still have enough battery life for another half a card or so. Wow. With my current cameras, that's about 4,500 exposures between recharges, and about 8,200 exposures before the Nexto's hard drive is filled. I think I'm covered. Even if I throw in a few videos, I have plenty of room for a week's worth of shooting. I've never filled it to capacity yet. Using it strictly for video, it can store over 14 hours of AVCHD SH videos from my Panasonic GF-1.
A practical example: Last year in two weeks of intense photography in Japan, I made just over 6,000 exposures (brackets of 3, so 2,000 compositions) that totaled 88 GB. If I were that productive again (doubtful), I'd still have room on the Nexto for over 2 hours of video.
I also have the external battery that increases the Nexto's upload capacity to 140GB without needing to be recharged. In short, for my upcoming trip to Mongolia, I don't even need to take the AC adapter because I won't need to recharge before the capacity of the unit is entirely filled — in which case I would have over 8,000 images. That ought to be enough, don't you think?
Back home, I simply plug the Nexto into my computer via USB and it's recognized as an external hard drive. From there, I simply copy/move the files to the server and proceed.
If I were the fastidious worrying type, I would carry two Nexto's with me just in case one of them failed. Probably a good idea, but not as practical as it might sound — strictly from a cost point of view. The doggone things are not cheap, at least not compared to an external hard drive. $290 for the 320GB eXtreme model at Amazon. B&H has a 160GB eXtreme for $235. Maybe I should think about one.
The bottom line for me is that with this unit to clear out my camera's cards on a daily basis, I don't have take my netbook with me for that purpose.
And one final comment. Another strategy that I know some photographers use is to simply stock up on camera cards and never delete them in the field. Memory cards are cheap enough, so that's not a bad idea. Even so, a device like the Nexto (or Digital Foci, Epson, Jobo, et al) is a great way to have an in-the-field backup before you even get back home. I fondly remember a couple of GB of images I was chimping reviewing at the airport in Wyoming a few years ago only to find when I arrived back home that the card had somehow become corrupt during the flight back and all was lost. Wish I'd had the Nexto back then.