Carry – USB Triple Card Readers review

CompactFlash, SmartMedia, MultiMedia/MemoryStick readers
Photo of Carry – USB Triple Card Readers
£35

It’s one of computer life’s little truisms that there’s never one accepted standard for anything when there could be five competing ones. This is particularly true of memory cards, with five current standards: PCMCIA – also known as PC Card and ATA Flash, Compact Flash, SmartMedia, MultiMedia Card – aka SecureDigital – and MemoryStick.

If you have two or more devices (digital cameras, MP3 players, etc.) using memory cards, you can almost guarantee they will use different ones and the problem then is how to transfer data between them and your PC. Card readers have been around for a while, but only recently have there been devices which can cope with more than a couple of card types at once.

A new range of card readers made by the Taiwanese Carry company are now being imported and distributed by Memory Gold through Misco and Global direct retailers and two of them are the subject of this review. Both can handle the most popular CompactFlash and SmartMedia cards, but in addition one takes MultiMedia cards while the other can handle Sony’s MemoryStick.

The readers are about the size of a PDA, with a single USB connector at the rear and three slots at the front for the cards. The CompactFlash slot includes an eject button but the other types rely on the protruding edges of the cards to pull them out. There are two small indicators on top of each reader, a green one to show when it’s correctly connected to a USB port, from which it draws all power, and a red one to show data transfer.

Installation is simple enough – install the driver software and plug in the reader. Three extra drive icons are added to Windows, one for each card slot. It’s worthwhile renaming these icons to the individual card types, as they all read ‘Removable Drive’, by default – not very helpful. Should you need to disconnect the card reader, the extra icons disappear, but the drive letters of remaining drives are likely to be re-ordered, which is annoying.

One of the big advantages of these triple card readers is that you can read and write up to three cards simultaneously. This makes it particularly easy to transfer files from one type of card to another, a task that’s normally quite fiddly. Data transfer rates from the cards are governed by the speed of the USB connection, but even with substantial digital image files, these readers are still quick enough to remain convenient.

Company: Carry

Contact: 0870 720 8720


Verdict
A compact and flexible solution to the problem of exchanging data between your PC and your digital camera and/or MP3 player. The triple card readers are relatively inexpensive, installation is painless and they work well and reasonably quickly. A couple of improvements in the software, like visual identification of the different card slots and better handling of drive letters after disconnection, would improve the readers further.