What is a Memory Card Reader?
A good many of us often face difficulties while transferring data to a memory card. So, why not buy a special device for reading memory cards? Having a “horde" of electronic devices, you’d live a happy person life having a single card reader compatible with any memory card. Card readers can transfer files from/to any of your memory cards several times faster than you'd do via a USB cord. They don't require installation of any drivers and recognized by PC as a separate disk. So, really, there are many of perks you can benefit from, of which we're going to tell you about further on in the review.
Interested in a device performing a CD / DVD or USB flash drive reading? Have a closer look at the best external CD/DVD drives and USB hubs. They may happen to be just what you’ve been longing for for so long!
What Features to Compare
First, you need to pay attention to the functional features of a card reader. You need to know what memory card formats your card reader is able to support and whether they are what you need. The models that support Compact Flash, SD, SDHC, SDXC, micro SD, T-Flash, MMC, mini SD, MS, XD are the most versatile. Depending on a model, a reader may have up to 8 slots for connecting all types of memory cards. Here you need to decide how many devices you would need to connect in the future, for, as a rule, the more slots there are in a unit, the bulkier and heavier it usually is. In this regard, single-slot card readers are much more compact and ergonomic to carry around. You also need to check reading capabilities of the chosen device and the maximum amount of files it can process/transfer over a certain period of time. The higher it is the faster information reading will be. Today, memory card readers with 5 Gbps speed are considered the best.
Interface and Compatibility
The next thing to consider is interface and compatibility. As for the interface connectivity, there are two types: external and internal. The external interface displays the link-up type the card reader has. It can be USB 2.0, 3.0, or HDMI. The processing speed depends on the external interface, so USB 3.0 output has a considerable advantage over all the others. The internal interface is an input through which a card reader can be connected to different drives and gadgets. The more slots there are on the internal interface is, the bigger number of external devices you'd be able to link up. Operating system compatibility is another aspect which shouldn't be neglected for it often specifies card reader's functionality. The best readers are cross-compatible with Windows, Mac OS, Linux and Chrome.
Today, a card reader is so much more than a basic device for reading memory cards. Most present-day models are equipped with additional features and functions to provide enhanced comfort during use. One of the features that’s often found on card readers is a USB hub, using which one can connect to external hard drives or Flash drives. Some readers can perform as portable wireless routers transforming wired network into a wireless-enabled PPPoE protocol. That’s handy, isn’t it? Card readers can be equipped with integrated power bank to enable charging of multiple gadgets without connecting to a power outlet. The models that can be linked up to Google Chromecast can actually let you stream music or video or display images on a big screen provided that you’ve connected it to a USB-driven device. The list of extras may differ from one manufacturer to the other, so you need to decide which of the functions are more wanted by you personally.
RAVPower FileHub Plus
RAVPower FileHub Reader supports all major memory card formats including SD, SDHC, SDXC. So, you can transfer data from/to your smartphone, tablet, camera or video camera in no time. Though this reader allows you to work with only one memory card at a time (as it is a single-slot model), it perfectly supports up to 4TB external hard drives and up to 256GB memory cards, enabling smooth and fast data transfer. The transferring speed is about 7 MB/sec, which is really impressive.
Having an expanded number of features, this card reader has the widest functionality. Its most distinctive feature is the ability to convert a wire Internet signal into a Wi-Fi signal. Thereby the card reader serves as a router, plus it supports the PPPoE standard, static and dynamic IP. The card reader can also serve as an additional access point that can help you extend your wireless network range. One more important feature is its 6000mAh 5V 1Amp built-in power bank. Besides that, the device is able to transfer digital content to a TV screen wirelessly through the official app - Filehub Plus from the manufacturer, which is available for download and installation on Android and iOS platforms. In addition, you can exchange information between external storage devices by connecting them via a USB port. Please note: due to the limitation of the Apple iOS system, you can ONLY access the Photos folder on your iPad / iPhone, Filehub is currently unable to sync with media files stored in iTunes to USB storage devices due to digital rights management (DRM).
For faster and more stable performance, a software update is highly recommended. This can be done as follows:
1. Download the firmware from the official RAVPower website.
2. Unzip it.
3. Insert the FileHub USB storage device (such as an external HardDisk or a USB flash drive).
4. Connect to the FileHub through a wireless network.
5. Open a browser and enter the following numbers 10.10.10.2546.
6. Then follow these steps: Settings → System Settings → Firmware Update → Review, Browse and select the exact file from paragraph 3.
7. Click Firmware Update. It’ll only take you about 5 minutes to download the needed update.
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Komputerbay 64GB SDXC is an excellent memory card with the amazing 90 MB/s speed and 64GB capacity.
HooToo Shuttle USB 3.1 Type-C
The Next Best Thing
After having a close look at this reader, we have defined an important feature that distinguishes this model from its competitors. It is a built-in 4K video display adapter which transmits video through an HDMI connection to another monitor with the highest Ultra HD or Full HD (1080p) resolution. This feature is particularly relevant for people whose profession is associated with web design, programming, etc. With this video adapter, you can reflect/mirror or extend your computer screen, streaming the highest quality video content directly to projectors, monitors and TVs with HDTV. The card reader can be linked to a computer (Apple, Mac OS and others) via a special USB-C connector Complement. Apart from that, the card reader is equipped with a built-in USB hub with three high-speed USB 3.0 connectors through which you can transfer data at a speed of up to 5 Gbps from external hard drives and flash drives. Plus! Via these connectors, a computer can be connected to external peripherals such as a keyboard, a mouse, etc.
Did you know that this device can be used in a non-standard way? The fact is that today users of most modern computers, desktop and laptop alike, haven't been using built-in drives for quite a long time. Most of the time now, to do any installation operation people tend to use external flash drives connected to the computer via a USB connector. But what if you do not have a USB flash drive at hand? You have an alternative to OS installation: you can use a memory card and an external card reader in case your device hasn't been equipped with a built-in one. All you need is a 4 GB (or more) memory card and an operating system image. Next, you need to burn the image directly onto the memory card itself using either the original Windows service or a utility such as Ultra ISO. Tip! When you install the system from the drive, do not forget to change the First Boot Device setting in BIOS.
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Kingston FCR-HS4 is an extremely versatile device for different shapes and types of memory cards. This model supports a variety of popular memory card formats including:
- Compact Flash - CF Type I & II (UDMA 0-7);
- Secure Digital: SD / SDHC UHS I-II / SDXC UHS I-II;
- MicroSD/microSDHC UHS-I / microSDXC UHS-I;
- Memory Stick: Memory Stick PRO / Duo / PRO Duo / PRO-HG Duo.
This model has four slots hooking up to several different types of memory cards, thereby increasing data reading and transfer capabilities. The maximum memory of the card you can hook your card reader up to should not exceed 256GB, which is far enough to enjoy a large number of photos, music and videos. So, if you are a photographer, a videographer, a design or printing studio office worker, don’t think twice. Besides that, the data rate (up to 5 Gbps) allows you to transmit loads of information hilariously fast. Connect Kingston FCR-HS4 to your computer via a USB 3.0 and benefit from its 10 times faster performance compared to the conventional USB 2.0 connection.
Did you know that the Kingston company was founded on the 17th of October in 1987 by two Taiwanese immigrants, John Tu and David Sun? Back then in 1989, Kingston started taking a leading position on the market after doing a complete testing of their products, which resulted in high quality of all their inventions. Today, the company is the largest independent manufacturer of DRAM memory modules and owns 46% of the world market. The Kingston company is the second largest flash memory, the first USB-drive and the third memory card producer. In August, in "The Top 100 Inc. 5000 Companies", the Inc.com rated Kingston as the 6th in the revenue and the 1st in the computer hardware categories. In November, the Forbes Magazine rated Kingston as the 77th on its list of "The 500 Largest Private Companies in the US". Currently, Kingston is an international network of distributors, resellers, retailers and OEM-customers on six continents.
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SanDisk extreme PRO 32GB flash memory card is a high-speed card reader with up to 90 MB/s reading speed and up to 95 MB/s writing speed. It supports 4K Ultra HD (3840 x 2160p) and Full HD (1920 x 1080) video resolutions.
This card reader enables concurrent and card-to-card file transfers and simultaneously supports two cards of the following formats: Compact Flash, SD, SDHC, SDXC, SD UHS. Two conveniently located slots provide one more beneficial feature - a simultaneous file transfer from one card to another. The reader has a specially designed innovative, pop-up mechanism that protects card slots from debris, dust, and dirt when your card is not in use. This once again proves that it is not only a compact and take-on-the-go model but also well-protected, thus, you can take the reader anywhere you go. Besides, the reader is equipped with a LED activity light to let you know when your file transfer is complete.
Tested by Professionals
This Lexar card reader is indeed one of the most durable and reliable in its kind. As it was stated by the Lexar Quality Labs, all their devices, including Lexar Professional Dual-Slot Reader itself, are subjected to rigorous research and testing for performance, quality, compatibility and reliability. This fact gives users more confidence in all Lexar products. Among more than 800 digital products that have been tested by 15 full-time laboratory professionals you'll find the following products lines:
• SLR cameras and digital portable cameras;
• Video cameras and mobile phones;
• Desktop computers, laptops, netbooks and tablets;
• Card readers;
• Digital photo frames and printers;
• All popular game consoles.
Lexar digital products are also put through high vibrations, temperature shift, electric shock and even high pressure testing. High quality and reliability are the things that Lexar users have always enjoyed.
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Lexar professional card reader is a portable, professional, and high-speed card reader, designed to transmit data from a micro SD UHS-II memory card to a computer. The device can read high-quality photos, 1080p full-HD/4K video, and 3D.
Rocketek 11 in 1 Multiformat
The Rocketek reader is a universal device with support of most popular formats - CF, CF (UDMA), SD, SDXC, SDHC, Micro SD / SDXC / SDHC, MS, M2, and xD. Actually, it's compatible virtually with all existing card types and so if you get one, you’ll never fail to read any card. The interface features 8 slots to enable reading from several cards at a time, which is really a lot. According to our own research, you can comfortably connect up to 5 cards on it and they will interact perfectly well with each other. Still, there’s more to come. The 2TB and 5 Gbps numbers put it far before in the row leaving most rivals tail behind.
External vs Built-in
Why buy an external card reader if you've already got a built-in one? Let's make a short overview of pros and cons of these two types.
Built-in Card Reader
Pros: no need to buy it (since it is already integrated), difficult to lose or damage.
Cons: supports just 1 or 2 types of cards (as a rule), low speed, difficult to replace in case of failure, lack of mobility.
External Card Reader
Pros: high mobility and convenience, high speed, multiple card concurrent support, any card compatibility.
Cons: a greater risk of damage, quick deterioration of the connectors.
In sum, this short pros-and-cons list just proves to show that an external card reader is a great option for all those people who value ease of use, versatility and convenience.
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2. Ryan Zanoni Memory Card Buying Guide, B&H Photo-Video-Pro Audio. August 8, 2015.
3. Jim Harmer 9 Things Photographers Need to Know About Memory Cards, IMPROVE PHOTOGRAPHY.
4. Andy Betts 5 Mistakes to Avoid When Buying Your Next MicroSD Card, MakeUseOf. October 23, 2015.
5. How to Transfer Data with a Memory Card Reader, Overstock.
6. MEMORY CARDS AND CARD READERS: EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW, SLR Lounge. August 5, 2015.
7. Jeff Meyer Best memory card reader for photographers: 6 top options tested and rated, TechRadar. March 29, 2015.
8. How to Transfer Data From a Memory Card to a Computer, eBay. March 3, 2016.