We picked this Iwill media reader up at the local Fry’s. It had USB 2.0 stickers on the box, and supports compact flash, memory stick, secure digital, and smart media. It uses a standard USB mini a connection, so replacement cables will be easy to find. It requires a USB 2.0 cable, as a USB 1.1 cable we had did not work. This reader is the most compact, but doesn’t have an LED to indicate that the reader is plugged or that the card is being accessed. It shows up as 4 separate drives in windows.
We ordered this Zio Dazzle 8-in-1 reader off the internet. It supports compact flash, smart media, memory stick, and secure digital. The 8-in-1 is because they compact flash type I, II, and microdrives as 3 separate formats. Its cable is integrated so you can’t lose it, but this makes it less portable. It has a green LED to indicate power on with card access indicated by the blinking of this LED. It shows up as 2 drive in windows.
This Sandisk 12-in-1 card reader is probably one of the most popular readers and can be found in just about any electronics store. It supports compact flash, smart media, secure digital, memory stick, and XD cards. Again, all the variations of these formats are counted as separate devices. The Sandisk reader has an orange power LED and separate green LEDs for each slot to indicate card access. It adds a button to automate transfers to your computer and comes with a docking cradle, but you can remove it to use portably with a USB mini A cable.
The Lexar firewire reader was the reader of choice before card readers were even available in USB 2.0 form. It is very small and lightweight, although it requires a 6-pin firewire connection, which many PC laptops do not offer. It is also a compact flash only reader. One problem that we encountered with the Lexar is that it wouldn’t read our Corsair 512MB card, no matter how we formatted it. The card would simply get very hot to the touch when inserted into the reader. The Kingston card would give us the same problem, although we got it to work once for the read benchmark. We RMA’d the Lexar reader and still had the same problem. In addition, we found the card mounting time, or the time required for the computer to recognize the card once inserted, to be a touch slower than the USB readers.