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Terapin Mine Review

Highs

  • Multiple abilities

Rating

Our Score 6
User Score 1

Lows

  • Big and bulky
"...it's hard for me to recommend the Terapine Mine to anyone but those whom are willing to invest in bleeding edge technology...

Summary

At this point in time it’s hard for me to recommend the Terapine Mine to anyone but those whom are willing to invest in bleeding edge technology. On paper it boasts an impressive feature set and seems to offer more than any of its competition. But its inconsistent performance coupled with its hulkish dimensions make it seem quite undesirable to those of us who can only afford to invest in a technology once.

In the last year or so we have seen a practical onslaught of hand held storage devices. The Terapin Mine is one of many such devices currently on the market. Boasting the Linux operating system, a 10 gig hard drive, and an impressive array of connectivity options, the Mine appears to be a unique entry in this extremely competitive industry. Practically a Swiss Army Knife of file sharing options, this Linux based behemoth would appear to be the clear front-runner on anyone’s hand held wish list. With all that being said let us get down to the nitty gritty. Does this bad boy deliver or not?

Looks and First Impressions

Upon first opening the box, I was surprised to see what appeared to be an oversized protective carrying case for the Mine. It wasn’t til I removed the item that I realized that in fact it was the Mine itself. To put it frankly, the Mine is huge. Weighing in at an impressive 1 lb and measuring 7″ x 3.5″ x 1″ it will undoubtedly give your notebook computer a run for its money. The actual ergonomics of the Mine seemed quite fine with its various controls and ports located in a logical and intuitive manner. The sheer amount of connectivity options is staggering. Located on top is a 16 bit Type II PCMCIA card slot. The bottom contains a LAN port, a USB master port, and a USB slave port. Rounding it off is a standard head phone jack and Video Out. The absence of Firewire is a legitimate complaint though.

Setup and Use

Given the fact that the Mine is running the Linux OS, I was curious as to how fast the boot up sequence would be. The average boot up time was a mere 10 seconds….I wish my Windows box could do the same. The user interface for the Mine consisted of simple text options laid out in a no nonsense fashion. I suppose that the Mine’s interface emphasizes readability and clarity but I found it to be rather plain and much of the precious LCD real estate was wasted. Navigating the menu’s proved to be extremely easy. After a few minutes of playing around I felt confident that I had a complete run down of the Mine’s basic features.

As far as configuration is concerned this is handled through your PC as opposed to through the Mine itself. Using the USB slave port, I proceeded to hook the Mine up to my PC, which at the time was running Windows 2000 Professional. As expected, Windows immediately detected the presence of the Mine and assigned it a drive letter. Located on the Mine was an executable that allowed me to configure its various and plentiful capabilities. The configuration process was relatively painless although I did resort to the manual.

Testing

So far my experience with the Mine had been all smooth sailing. Installation and configuration was a breeze and the impressive feature set was begging me to put it to the test. Unfortunately, this is where the Mine truly distinguished itself from the rest of the pack. Here’s what I found.

With the Mine still hooked up to my PC, I copied onto it a collection of MP3’s and some images I took with my digital camera. For comparison sake I burned onto CD the same MP3’s that I had placed on the Mine. The MP3’s on CD sounded fantastic when played on my dedicated stereo but upon connecting the Mine, I was simply shocked at how mush the sound quality had degraded. I can only assume that in the D/A conversion process the Mine simply cannot compete with my dedicated CD player. I’m not talking a difference that only an Audiophile would notice, I’m talking a substantial decrease in the overall clarity and imaging of the music. This seemed pretty unfortunate since one of the main selling points of hand held storage devices is their ability to transport large volumes of digital music.

A little disapointed, I proceeded to hook the Mine up to my TV via the provided RCA connector. Taking into consideration the resolution restrictions of a composite connection, I was very satisfied with the image quality. Without any configuration on the users behalf, the Mine will automatically display your stored images in a slideshow manner. Just as I had gotten comfortable watching the images, a blue screen of death appeared indicating that the image to be displayed was corrupt. After several minutes of troubleshooting and several attempts at downloading the images onto the Mine, I eventually gave up without resolving the situation. The images seemed fine on my PC but simply would not display correctly when viewed via the Mine.

At this point, I was feeling a bit let down so I decided to try out one of the Mine’s features that would be of most use to me. Via the USB master port, the Mine should in theory be able to connect and control a USB compliant device. This would be a fantastic option for anyone who has a digital camera and has felt the wrath of storage limitations. For the sake of this I broke out my Olympus C-3020 Zoom camera. Like the old saying goes “3 strikes and your out”. For the life of me, I could not get the Mine to connect to my camera. Although it detected the fact that my camera was an Olympus, it failed to properly recognize its model.

Up until this point, the Mine had behaved flawlessly via USB. Every time I connected it to my PC it was detected immediately and mapped as a local drive. The same was not true when I tried to access it via my LAN. I followed the directions to the letter but I was never able to access it. Its FTP capabilities seemed attractive but failed to materialize during my test. If this process proves difficult for me I can’t imagine the frustration that would be experienced by a less technology savvy owner.

Conclusion and Final thoughts

At this point in time it’s hard for me to recommend the Terapine Mine to anyone but those whom are willing to invest in bleeding edge technology. On paper it boasts an impressive feature set and seems to offer more than any of its competition. But its inconsistent performance coupled with its hulkish dimensions make it seem quite undesirable to those of us who can only afford to invest in a technology once.

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