iPod photo Camera Connector: Doesn’t work reliably with media readers

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Macintosh
May 2nd, 2005 • 11:52 pm

Apple has managed to screw up once more. When the iPod Camera Connector was announced, I thought it was the perfect solution for me. See, I have a Nikon Coolpix 5000, but its built-in USB jack is broken, so when I want to transfer pictures from my Compact Flash cards, I have no choice but to use a USB media reader. So I needed a connector that would let me connect the iPod photo not just to my camera directly (which I can no longer do because of the flaw in my camera), but also to my media reader.

The support page stated (and still states): “The iPod Camera Connector requires an iPod photo and a supported camera or media reader.” (my emphasis).

Apple’s Compatibility page only provides a list of supported digital cameras (including the Nikon Coolpix 5000), but I didn’t make too much of this, since Apple can hardly be expected to provide a complete list of all the USB media readers that exist on the face of the planet.

So I ordered a Camera Connector, and finally got around to trying it out. I am afraid I have to report that it simply doesn’t work with USB media readers.

I have two different USB media readers. One is an old generic thing that I bought during a previous trip to Europe. It doesn’t even have a label or anything that would identify its make. The other one is a SanDisk ImageMate CF (model number: SDDR-91) that I bought only recently. Both media readers have always worked perfectly fine with every computer I’ve used them with.

I have just spent half an hour trying to use these media readers with the Camera Connector. And it’s been an incredibly frustrating experience.

The SanDisk media reader doesn’t work at all. As soon as I plug it into the Camera Connector, the iPod photo displays the message “unsupported device“.

The other, older reader works… 1 time out of 10. I have two Compact Flash cards that I use. One is a Viking 256 MB card, and the other one is a Lexar 512 MB. If I try to import photos from the Lexar card with the older reader, it fails completely every time. If I plug the reader into the Camera Connector without the card inserted, the little green LED on the reader comes on. But as soon as I insert the Lexar card, the LED goes off and I get the message “no card inserted“.

As for the Viking card, it works… some of the time. If I plug the reader into the Camera Connector without the card inserted, wait for the green LED to come on, and then insert the Viking card, the iPod photo recognizes it and see the digital pictures on it and lets me import them. But if I then take the card out and then put it back in, it no longer works. If I try this a couple of times, I end up with a frozen iPod photo that I have to reset, or the iPod photo crashes and reboots by itself.

I have found that the only way to make the iPod photo Camera Connector work “reliably” with my generic USB media reader and the Viking 256 MB card is to

  1. turn the iPod photo off
  2. turn the iPod photo back on
  3. insert the Camera Connector with the USB media reader connected to it, but without the Viking card inserted
  4. wait for the green LED to come on
  5. insert the Viking card

If I don’t follow this exact sequence, the iPod photo crashes, or freezes, or fails to recognize the reader/card.

I guess I should have known better. When Apple says “or a supported media reader“, and then fails to provide a list of said supported media readers, it means that something fishy is going on.

The fact that I am still able to make the thing work occasionally, by following a very strict sequence of actions, seems to indicate that the problem is not necessarily a hardware problem. The fact that the iPod photo freezes or crashes so easily also seems to indicate that there are major software bugs that might be fixed in a future iPod software update. But if I cannot make the Camera Connector work with my 512 MB Compact Flash card, it’s going to be of limited appeal to me.

Fortunately, the Camera Connector not a very big expense. If I manage to gather up the courage later on this week, I might try to phone Apple to try and get some feedback on this. After all, the Camera Connector does have a 1-year warranty, and it is advertised as working with “supported media readers” does give me some ammunition.

Still, I find all this rather discouraging.

4 Responses to “iPod photo Camera Connector: Doesn’t work reliably with media readers”

  1. vaag says:

    Your readers obviously are not (fully) supported. On Apple’s iPod Photo/media readers-discussion forum you will find some sort of real world list of readers that work and others -a lot more- that won’t. You could add your readers there. I doubt if your ammunition will be strong enough.

  2. Pierre Igot says:

    I don’t think I should have to go to various Apple Discussion threads to find out whether my media readers are supported or not. If the Camera Connector only supports a limited range of media readers, then it should be stated clearly in the product pages. Right now, the product pages are misleading.

  3. vaag says:

    When you go to the Apple Store to buy a camera connector, support for media readers is not even mentioned. When you click through, via “See http://www.apple.com/support/ipod/photos for supported cameras”, only then there is this line “The iPod Camera Connector requires an iPod photo and a supported camera or media reader”. And then it says: “For the complete list of supported cameras and media readers, see this webpage”. On this webpage not one supported media reader is been mentioned. Now what does this somehow mean: ‘So far Apple doesn’t support any media reader [for whatever reason], do a little bit of real world investigation yourself [in discussion forums, asking friends etc.]’, maybe some will work’. Now did you do some fieldwork before buying?
    Is this all sufficient enough for your opening statement: “Apple has managed to screw up once more”? Hardly. Totall overkill, once more I would say. You gambled, and you lost. Please blame yourself. That’s all. Much ado about nothing.

  4. Pierre Igot says:

    Sure, I gambled. But Apple didn’t have to mention support for media readers if it doesn’t really work with them. And, as I said, it looks like at least part of the problem is serious bugs in the software, not hardware support.

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