Canon M80 Media Storage Device


      In summary

      A well-built portable storage device for image and video files that also has music playback capabilities.Portable image storage devices have been around for a few years. Based on notebook PC hard disk drives, they offer high storage capacities and have card slots for quick transfer of image files. Some have LCD screens for viewing stored images; some support playback of music and video files. All represent good value when compared with the cost of buying the same capacity in memory cards. At $1099 for 80GB, Canon’s M80 sits in the ‘prestige’ end of the market. . . [more]

      Full review


      Portable image storage devices have been around for a few years. Based on notebook PC hard disk drives, they offer high storage capacities and have card slots for quick transfer of image files. Some have LCD screens for viewing stored images; some support playback of music and video files. All represent good value when compared with the cost of buying the same capacity in memory cards. At $1099 for 80GB, Canon’s M80 sits in the ‘prestige’ end of the market.
      Here it competes with Epson’s P-5000 and Jobo’s Giga Vu, both of which have half the M80’s storage capacity for a similar price. Solidly built with a tough, magnesium alloy chassis and attractive finish, it has a large 3.7-inch (90mm diameter) colour TFT LCD and a control layout that’s reminiscent of EOS DSLR cameras. Supplied with the M80 is a clip-on stand in which the device can sit when it’s on a desk or table top, allowing users to view images and video in comfort.


      The M80 on its stand showing the menu interface.

      The LCD screen, which covers two thirds of the rear panel, claims a 160-degree viewing angle. It has VGA resolution and benefits from 18-bit colour support, a brightness level of 300 candelas/square metre and a contrast ratio of 250:1, allowing users to view high-resolution images and video clips to advantage. Ranged along the left side of the screen are three buttons accessing Menu, Info., and Erase functions. Right of the screen is an arrow pad with a central Set button.

      Above it are two buttons controlling index/zoom out and zoom in, while below the arrow pad are cancel and direct printing buttons. The power switch sits below them, close to the base of the device and has a tiny indicator LED beside it to show when the M80 is in use.


      Slots in the base panel beside the battery compartment accept CF and SD cards and the BP-511A is the same battery as used in the EOS 40D and 5D (and PowerShot G6). USB 2.0 Hi-Speed, headphone and DC-in ports are located on the top panel under a flip-up plastic cover, which has a 2cm long rubber tether that slides into the body when the cover is closed. The top panel also carries a one-touch Backup button and a circular grille for the speaker. A wrist strap attaches to an eyelet on the right side panel.

      The M80 can handle and display JPEG, TIFF, Canon RAW image files as well as MPEG 1, 2 and 4 and Motion JPEG video clips. MP3 and Wave audio files are also supported. It can be connected to both Windows and Macintosh computers for file transfer and supports the latest operating systems.

      In Use

      The M80 can handle a surprising number of tasks. Insert a memory card and it will be recognised almost immediately. You can transfer image files from the card to the M80’s HDD by pressing the Backup button or by selecting the card via the arrow pad and choosing backup from the menu. File transfer times aren’t blazingly fast: 4.1MB/sec for CF to HDD and 3.8MB/sec for SD to HDD, which equates to a bit over four minutes to transfer 1GB of data. The screen blacks out after a couple of seconds but you can call back the display by pressing the Info button.


      On-screen graphics allow users to track the progress of backups.

      Actual storage times are roughly doubled by the M80’s verification system, which clicks in once the last file is transferred. You know all files have been transferred when the verification screen appears, (see below) and you can open the destination and view your shots.


      Following verification, users can open the new album or return to the Home screen.
      The M80 lets you view JPEG, TIFF and Canon’s raw file formats (but not other raw files). You can rotate, erase and protect individual images, display slideshows of an album of shots and print, copy and move individual files.


      Pressing the Info button calls up a thumbnail of a selected shot with a brightness histogram and detailed shooting data and you can toggle from one shot to the next with the horizontal buttons on the arrow pad.


      Once the files have been transferred you can also sort them into albums. You can view single images, index thumbnails and slideshows and the M80 has a range of ‘canned’ music that can be used as background.


      Index views are provided for the collection of albums (above) and to show individual shots within a selected album (below).


      You can also upload MP3 and WAV audio files or MPEG (1, 2 or 4) or Motion JPEG videos and watch them on the screen. Movie playback was quite good on the test unit, although audio playback was less satisfactory.


      Some of the ‘canned’ music selections that are provided with the M80.

      Transitions for slideshows are limited to cover and wipe effects in four directions (up, down, left, right). Cross-fading, which is provided in Epson’s P-5000 and the fade in/out found in the Giga Vu Pro are not included. You can choose a random effect setting, which runs through the cover and wipe options in random order, but the overall slideshow is not as professional-looking as it might otherwise have been.


      Transitions for slideshows are limited to cover and wipe in four directions.

      You can print directly from the M80 by connecting it to a PictBridge compatible printer via a USB cable, which connects to a port under a flip-out cover on the top panel. Image files can also be password-protected and downloaded to a computer via USB cable. But there’s no support for Wireless file transmission.

      Power consumption appeared to be low as we were able to download just over 60GB of image files to the M80 ““ with verification ““ before the battery indicator showed a low warning. Canon claims the M80 can deliver approximately 2.6 hours of video playback or 4.8 hours for music via earphones per battery charge. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to assess how much storage space each album uses (unless you add up the individual files) and you can’t easily see how much memory remains.


      As an image viewer the M80 is a pleasure to use and it could worthwhile for some professional photographers. File storage is easy and efficient and the ability to listen to music (through headphones) and view videos may also be handy in some situations. But it’s more of a ‘nice-to-have’ device than a necessity, although it would be advantageous for travellers visiting out-of-the-way places if they don’t wish to carry a notebook PC.

      However, no editing facilities are supported and you can’t resize image files on the device. Nor can you connect to the Internet and download shots or send emails. If these functions are essential, the M80 will not be for you. Furthermore, the asking price is high for the device’s functionality ““ although it’s competitive with similar devices from other manufacturers.




      Supported files: Music (MP3, WAV); Video (MPEG 1/2/4, Motion JPEG); Images (JPEG, TIFF, Canon RAW)

      Viewing screen: 3.7-inch colour TFT LCD; VGA resolution; 160 degree viewing angle

      Display options: Single image, Single image with information, Index, Slideshow

      Internal memory: 80GB

      Expansion slots: SD/MMC and CompactFlash

      PC Interface: USB 2.0 Hi-Speed

      File transfer speed: SD to HDD ““ 3.8MB/sec; CF to HDD 4.1MB/sec.

      Battery: BP-511A Lithium-ion battery (Max. 2.6 hours of continuous movie play or 4.8 hours music play/charge)

      Dimensions: 140 x 81 x 34 mm

      Weight: 370 grams (including battery)

      RRP: $1099
      Distributor: Canon Australia; 1800 021 167;





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