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Our reviewer has some quibbles, but it is possible that the FlashTrax might be the best of its genre.

FlashTrax portable multimedia device, $400 to $700, depending on hard drive size) is a well-constructed 12-ounce gadget that looks rather like a Game Boy. Its primary function is to capture, store, display, and download today’s big digital photo files.

Capture is via a Compact Flash card slot (which accepts adapters for other formats); storage is on a 20, 40, or 80GB laptop hard drive; display is with a flip-up 3 1/2-inch color LCD or video-out to a TV; download is via a USB 2.0 port, which also lets you use the unit as an external PC/Mac drive.

As a bonus, the FlashTrax includes a basic, integrated MP3 player, and is big enough for a small speaker in addition to the standard headphone jack. Sound quality through the latter is good–comparable to other MP3 players I’ve tried. A removable lithium-ion battery powers everything for about three hours per charge, depending on screen use.

The main controls are a four-way directional rocker and seven other buttons underneath the screen. An included IR remote (particularly handy for slide shows and in-car MP3 use) replicates these, and others appear on the left edge, for navigating MP3s without opening the screen.

Operations are menu-driven and fairly intuitive, if a bit slow at times. Copying a CF card is as simple as inserting it in the front-edge slot and pushing the adjacent Copy button, simultaneously powering on the unit; everything on the card is transferred to an automatically created, dated folder. Extensive photo capabilities include thumbnail arrays, zoom and rotation of images, histograms and EXIF data, timed slide shows, and the ability to view common RAW formats and play the motion JPEG videos created by some digicams.

Bottom line, while I have some quibbles (such as its inability to do more than temporarily rotate one image at a time), I think the FlashTrax is currently the best of this genre, and with its downloadable upgrades it’s a tough act to follow.

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