I think so, for the price. I paid 12.99 GB Pounds + VAT for the housing and another 40 pounds-ish for a 60GB Western Digital notebook hard drive. It couldn't be simpler to assemble - just click the drive connections into place and secure with the screws provided, then screw the cover into place. I also formated the drive to FAT32 using a free application I saw recommended - this is necessary for it to work as an OTG device (On The Go).
It's simple and compact and will do what I bought it for - which in my case is as a back up external drive for my laptop. When I'm away and working on it, I like to still retain a remote (and separately hidden) back up of all my data, so that's what this is for largely - plus as a supplement to my modest laptop hard drive for less vital materials, like extra MP3s and files I might need to access.
It doesn't have a battery inside it - it's literally just a notebook drive inside a casing with some gubbins at the front for the USB plug and switches, so it's only less than an inch longer than a notebook HDD - it couldn't really be any smaller. It comes with an external battery pack that takes 4 x AA batteries - they're intended for use when you're using it as a card dump as it has no other power source - but I've found that it seems to work better when the USB Bus drive is supplemented by the batteries even when connected to the PCs - especially on my desktop where I use an extension cable and it can take several minutes to see it without external power and the laptop where USB power supply seems to be woefully inadequate for most devices.
I don't yet know how long the batteries will last - or rather the charge of a set of NiMhs - I've not had it long enough to drain them yet - and the beauty of AAs is you probably already carry them and they're easier to source in the field than needing to charge an internal battery - my first couple of weeks tinkering with it weren't enough to flatten them. Other owner reports I've read suggest that the battery life is pretty decent.
How good is it as a standalone portable unit in the field?
I don't know yet, I've only really used it as an external HDD yet apart from testing - that's my main consideration, I bought it when I was looking for a USB backup drive and one that was more portable than the desktops I usually use - the fact that it will double up as a card dump is a bonus, not my main priority. I already have a Vosonic drive for that - but this gives me an additional resource - I'll keep the Vosonic in my camera bag and this in my laptop bag - it's just another failsafe for me - like if the internal battery of the Vosonic flattens when needed - although I've worked it hard and it hasn't done yet.
The Thecus unit certainly seems fast and efficient and all the test data I've put on it was fine. You'll also need a card reader with it for downloading memory cards to it, it's just a casing with a USB port.
What sort of controls and indicators does it have?
Compared to more expensive purpose designed photo banks, it's pretty rudimentary, but it does give some indication of what it's doing. It has a three light display - POWER/COPY - ERR - FULL. When powered and the switch put on, the left light comes on as shown - you put the switch to either PC or COPY to turn it on and in the left PC position it works as an external drive, in the COPY position, you insert your card reader to the USB socket and press the copy button on the left and once it's communicating and downloading the data, the POWER/COPY light on the left flickers. When the transfer is complete, the lamp remains steady. I just leave it another minute to ensure it's done.
I've shown it right attached to my laptop and transferring data as an external drive, if you were using it as a card dump, you'd have a card reader attached to the USB instead and either the USB power cable shown above to the right of the unit attached to the unit's power socket, or the AA battery pack. I've found mine happier with the battery pack than USB Bus powered.
It all comes in a neat case too, to take the unit, power pack and leads. For the price I paid, I felt I got a lot for my cash. When I've got more money I'll perhaps add a larger drive - or just get another one.
On balance, it seems very good value for money and makes an inexpensive way to get some portable image storage, especially if you already have a card reader and an old notebook 2.5" HDD available - even good spec new ones can be bought cheaply. If pushed for negatives, I'd prefer to see a less shiny finish to the flat face of the unit - it looks very sexy in its black and chrome livery, but the heavily laquered surface shows every finger print and is impossible to keep grease-free. I also find the front switch to be a little flimsy feeling, I'd be more confident if it were a more positive feeling switch. But considering how much you get for not much more than the price of a music CD, it seems to churlish to get picky over details.