Epson P6000: Not Just For Photographers?

If you are a serious photographer, one of the things you live (or work) most in fear of is of losing a whole session of shots before you are able to properly back them up. This can happen in many ways: equipment loss, memory card failure, accidental erasure, or theft. But as with everything digital, there’s a gadget that can help solve that problem — if you are willing to pay the price.


That gadget is the Epson P6000, and even if you aren’t a photographer, it comes with some features that may be of use to you if you need to carry media with you or do presentations on the fly. Technically referred to as a “Multimedia Storage Viewer”, the P6000 is essentially an 80GB portable hard drive with a 4” LCD screen, SD and CF card readers, and a built-in interface for managing and viewing files. Part of that interface allows the playback of slideshows for presentations (which are created on the device with the photo and music files stored on it) or of audio and videos. There is a built-in speaker or a headphone jack for listening to the audio. An optional cable can also be purchased to allow the device to connect to a TV for playback. Street price for the Epson P6000 is $569.

If you’re a photographer or if — like me — your work sometimes requires photography, such as at trade shows, there is no doubt that the P6000 is a fabulous tool for backing up your photos while you shoot. The interface is intuitive and file copying is quick. Two caveats: the device is not as lightweight as you might think — at around 1lb in weight it’s about the equivalent of carrying a second DSLR camera body. Second, I found it can make security people doing bag checks suspicious because they aren’t used to seeing it and don’t know what it is, so be prepared to explain it if you are going to carry it.

The P6000‘s slideshow function seems mostly designed to be used as a portfolio presentation device for the professional photographers that are the device’s primary market. Slideshows are limited in their customization options. A slideshow can only be created from the entire contents of a single folder. You then can select music from your library, set the display time for each slide, and choose a transition. The music, display time and transition style are constant throughout the entire slideshow. This style is perfect for showing off a photo portfolio, but perhaps less than optimal for other presentations.

If you’d like to create a less basic presentation, you need to create a video file on your computer (i.e. from Powerpoint (s msft)) and then transfer it to the P6000. The device can play MPEG4 and Motion JPEG files.

Unless you are a photographer who needs high-end data back-up, do you really need the P6000? Is it worth the $569? The P6000 is definitely a solid device for photographers but its portable presentation functions are very basic and can be duplicated in other more cost-efficient ways if that is all the functionality that you really need. For example, the iPhone’s (s aapl) screen is only slightly smaller than the P6000 for playing videos on. It has apps for creating presentations on the fly with plenty of customization options, and it can be plugged in to a TV. But the iPhone is a multi-function device. I think I’d declare the iPhone the winner over the P6000 as a portable presentation device.

If you are a photographer, the P6000 is a must-have. For portable presentations, however, I’d chalk this up as another category where the iPhone is king.

Do you have a need to carry a presentation in your pocket? How do you do it?