Review: Minds@Work Digital Wallet
Jeff Keller, DCRP Founder/Editor
Originally Posted: Tuesday, July 25, 2000
Monday, September 10, 2001
One of the major concerns of new digital camera owners is how they
can go on a long vacation, and still take all the photos they want.
One solution is to load up on memory cards, though this can be expensive.
Another option is to bring a laptop with you, and download the photos
when necessary. This is unrealistic for most people.
folks at Minds@Work, a
Southern California based startup have been thinking about this
problem too, and the $500 Digital Wallet is their solution. (Disclosure:
Minds@Work is a DCRP sponsor.)
Digital Wallet is a portable storage device, roughly the size of
a paperback book, which contains a Motorola ColdFire processor,
PC card slot, rechargeable battery, and a 6gb Toshiba hard drive.
in the Box
Digital Wallet includes the following:
or translucent blue Digital Wallet
Card adapter for CompactFlash
with drivers and software (AmazingMail.com, Motorola DigitalDNA,
Rutulis SmartBack Jr., and several ArcSoft products)
are numerous other PC Card adapters available at extra cost, for
SmartMedia, Memory Sticks, and more. The included CompactFlash reader
is Type II compatible.
is the major area of disappointment for me with the Digital Wallet.
The whole thing doesn't feel solid; the plastic is cheap, and the
doors are difficult to open and close. After I finally got the battery
in, I could no longer get it out, without risking pulling the wires
right out of it.
Digital Wallet has a little attachment (known as the Carry Dock)
which snaps onto the bottom of the unit when you want to use USB
or the AC adapter.
here's a closer look at the attachment -- USB on the left, power
on the right.
a look at the side of the unit, with the PC Card door open. The
buttons on right are used for navigating the menus.
here's the top of the Wallet. Under this door is the rechargeable
Digital Wallet also comes in a transparent blue case, which looks
good with an iMac.
the Digital Wallet
how you'd use it: Let's say I'm away on a two week safari in Africa,
with just my 48MB CompactFlash card. When I fill up the card, I
pop in into the PC Card adapter, like so:
I just insert the PC Card into a slot on the side of the Wallet:
you hit the power on button, which is the one on the lower right
in the photo above. You'll see a quick startup screen, and then
the main menu.
The startup screen
The main menu (sorry these shots aren't great -- it's hard taking
pictures of LCD screens)
main menu has three choices -- download content, display volume,
and information. It also shows the current level of the battery.
By the way, Minds@Work claims an average of 140 minutes per battery
with my example, we're now going to download photos from the CompactFlash
card to the Wallet. I'd choose "Download Content" in the
Here's the Download Content Menu. Choose Start Download to begin...
Download in progress...
download doesn't take very long, thanks to the speedy 1.8MB/sec
transfer rate (this is the theoretical max speed- your results will
vary). If you want to confirm that the download was successful,
you can choose "Check Last Download" from the Download
quick look at the other options in the main menu now.
Volume lets you view the files that are stored on the Digital
Wallet at any given time. Unfortunately, the names are shown
in the 8.3 format that DOS users are familiar with. Getting
out of this mode isn't easy - you have to scroll all the way down to the bottom of the list to exit.
the Information submenu. The most useful thing here is the Free
Disk Space function.
a few seconds of grinding the hard drive, the Wallet tells you
how much space is left on the hard disk. Looks like plenty to
the whole, the Wallet's operating system needs a bit of work. Let's
hope the firmware upgrades will make it a little more user friendly.
you've got to get the photos from the Wallet to your computer, right?
Since most of the other digicam sites are PC centric, I'll look
at this from a Mac users perspective.
this is a Mac (grin), there are no drivers to install. Just be sure
your have MacOS 8.6 or greater. You just plug in the USB cable to
your Mac and the Wallet, turn on the Wallet, and after a few seconds,
the drive mounts on the desktop.
there, you can use it just like any other disk on your Macintosh.
I noticed a few very annoying problems that could cause your computer
to crash (or worse).
you connect the Wallet to your MacOS machine, ALWAYS use the AC
adapter. Otherwise, the Wallet will power down after 30 seconds.
Unlike Windows, the MacOS does NOT like drives just disappearing,
and it will give you an error, or maybe crash your computer.
you unmount the Wallet by dragging it to the Trash, it will remount
itself within seconds. If you're too slow at yanking the USB cable
out from the Wallet, the Mac will wonder what happened to the
drive it was trying to mount, and will crash. You need to be really
quick at removing the USB cable, or else. I'm not sure if this
is a MacOS or a Minds@Work issue, but it should be looked into
Digital Wallet is a great concept that needs a little more refinement
in order to make it a great product.
much needed product
6gb, more than enough storage
of software included
to install and setup
needs to be redesigned and made stronger
system is confusing
issues with MacOS mounting/unmounting
little pricey at $500 -- how about a 3gb version for half the
you're been looking for a product like this, then be sure to check
out the Digital Wallet. I'm hoping the firmware upgrades will help
fix the issues mentioned above, and that the Digital Wallet 2 will
take what's already working well, and make it ever better.
a second, third, or fourth opinion?
Minds@Work folks went all out, getting all four of the big digital
camera sites a Wallet to review. Now if we could only get the camera
manufacturers to do that!