At the lower cost end of the hardware market, the products on sale are increasingly tools to do a specific job, and little more than that. And fitting firmly into this bracket is Lindy’s 6-in-1 card reader, a handy device that’s the latest to bridge the differences between the numerous kinds of flash memory devices that sit inside digital cameras, portable MP3 devices and PDAs.
It works in a simple way. Via the included USB lead, you hook the reader up to your computer and, assuming that it runs a version of Windows that’s reasonably up to date (Windows Me or greater should see you safe), then your PC should automatically pick the device up. It then requires no software, but adds a selection of drive letters in ‘My Computer’ that correspond to the various ports on the front of the reader itself. Theoretically it should also work with Windows 98, but we suspect – not having a Windows 98 test machine at hand – that a bit of extra software may be needed to get it running.
The actual piece of hardware, the reader itself, is a slimline, nicely designed box that’s about twice the size of a box of matches. There are four ports on the front of it, and these can handle Sony Memory Stick, Compact Flash, Smart Media, Secure Digital, Multimedia cards and the IBM Microdrive. It’s all very simple, too. You insert the flash memory card of your choosing, click on the relevant drive letter in ‘My Computer’, and you can access the contents of the card from there. All the drives are active at the same time, so you can happily copy files from one card to another if necessary.
If there’s a drawback to the reader, it would be that there’s no immediate indication as to what port equates to what drive letter on your machine. This is nothing that a little bit of experimental clicking around can’t solve, but it could still be classed as a mild inconvenience. If you were tight on cost, too, you could shave a couple of quid off by using a reader that handles only the cards you commonly use, rather than one like this that does everything.
Still, these are very minor grumbles, as the 6-in-1 really is a useful piece of hardware, particularly for those who tend to juggle quite a few flash memory devices. It’s as simple as you’d want it to be, allowing you to treat each card as a drive on your computer that you can easily access to create, copy, move and delete files.
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