Multi-purpose memory card readers such as this one are becoming increasingly popular, due in part to the IT industry’s complete inability to settle for one particular type of flash memory storage. There’s a limit to how many dangling cables the average user wants to have hanging out of the back of their PC, so an all-in-one solution is ideal. We’ve reviewed a few others (here for example) and this one follows similar lines.
To start with, the ’5-in-1′ concept is a little bit misleading, since there are only three slots in the front of this USB-connected box of tricks. The middle slot is for SmartMedia cards. The top slot supports MultiMedia / SecureDigital cards while the lower one handles CompactFlash cards and the IBM Microdrive. To be fair, the Microdrive is a CompactFlash card, but it can’t always be used in standard CompactFlash devices, so it’s worth noting that this reader does support it.
SmartMedia cards up to a capacity of 128MB are supported, as are MultiMedia Cards up to 64MB. There’s no apparent restriction on the capacity of CompactFlash cards that can be supported, but as capacities are increasing all the time it would be worth checking that your shiny new card is supported before you buy. LEDs on the top of the unit light up depending on what type of card is currently installed.
The software supplied with the card reader is pretty basic; just the mass media driver software for Windows 98/Me/2000 and Linux, on a floppy disk, that assigns drive letters to each of the three slots. You can change these letters in the Windows Control Panel, as is usually the case with removable drives, so they shouldn’t interfere too much with any other drives you have installed. As with other readers of this type, though, it’s best not to remove the unit while your machine is switched on, as that could affect other drive letter assignments.
Conveniently, the reader lets you copy files from one slot to another without first copying them to the hard drive. And it’s fast, so you can make the most of the storage performance of larger memory cards without having to wait ages to transfer your files.
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