Steve's Digicams

BUSlink
6 in 1 Data Banker




Review posted 01/25/02

BUSlink Data Banker


BUSlink's USB 6 in 1 Data Banker is the perfect solution for today's digicam users, no matter what type of flash memory card your camera uses this card reader / writer can handle it. The four slots can accomodate CompactFlash Type I or II cards including IBM Microdrives, SmartMedia cards, Memory Stick modules and Secure Digital or MultiMedia cards. The unit is USB 1.1 compliant and true Plug & Play and hot swappable.

This card reader / writer is also perfect for users with MP3 players, PDA's and mobile phones as well as digital cameras or camcorders. Anybody that transfers or stores data on flash memory cards or Microdrives will love the Data Banker. I purchased mine from OnlyUSB.com for just $49.99, that's less than what I paid for just a SmartMedia PCMCIA adapter a year ago.

The Data Banker is compatible with personal computers equipped with USB and running Windows 98SE, Windows ME, Windows 2000 or Windows XP or Mac OS 8.6 or higher. It is powered directly from the USB port, no external power supply required and comes with a 3-foot USB cable. The unit itself is small (4.5 x 4.5 x 1.3 inches), only slightly larger than a mouse and weighs less than five ounces so it's great for travelling with your laptop too. In operation it draws only 200mA of power from the USB port.


BUSlink Data Banker


The four card slots on the Data Banker will appear as four removable drives so you can easily move data between different types of flash memory devices. Shown above is my rather busy set of drives, the removable disks J, K, L and M are the Data Banker. It would be nice if the driver software labeled the drives but the way it works out is the first drive is the SmartMedia slot, then the CompactFlash slot, next is the Memory Stick slot and finally the Secure Digital / MMC card slot.

The installation was quick and easy on my Pentium III 1000MHz machine running Windows 98 Second Edition. You load the software drivers first and then plug in the card reader and after the usual "detecting new hardware" routine it is ready to be used.

The data throughput is rated at 12Mbps but the actual transfer rate is dependant on your computers processor speed and more importantly, the speed of the flash memory device being accessed. Sony Memory Sticks are incredibly slow and CF cards like Lexar 12x or 16x Pro cards are very fast. Suffice it to say that it is as fast and usually faster than using the USB built into your camera. BUSlink rates the unit's transfer speed at 1.5Mbyte/sec.

Many people ask why they should use an external card reader rather than using the USB that's built in to their camera. The main reason is that you don't run your camera batteries down transferring all that data and you don't have to tie up your camera while downloading images. As I've already stated, external card readers are usually faster than the camera's USB port which certainly makes a difference if you're using a large CF card or especially a device like the one-gigabyte Microdrive.


The bottom line - it's not that expensive, it works and no matter what brand or model of digicam you'll own or use it can read and write to its flash memory card. I had no problems unplugging and plugging it back in with the computer running so it is a real "hot swappable" device. I saw no card compatibility problems, it worked flawlessly with CF cards from 8MB to 512MB, the 1GB Microdrive, 8MB to 128MB Memory Sticks, 64MB Secure Digital and 8MB to 128MB SmartMedia cards -- did I forget anybody?

Only a year ago a single-slot card reader capable of reading only one type of memory card cost about the same if not more.


SPECIFICATIONS
Dimensions: 4.49" X 4.41" X 1.29"
Unit Weight: 4.94 oz.
USB 1.1 Complaint
Truely Plug & Play and Hot Swappable
Serial Bus Data Rate: 12Mbps
Operational Current: 200mA / bus-powered, no external supply req'd.
PACKAGE CONTENTS
One Buslink USB 6 in 1 Data Banker USB Cable Software Driver (CD) Manual & Quick Installation Guide
USB Cable
Software Driver (CD)
Manual & Quick Installation Guide
SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS
Supports Windows 98(SE), ME, 2000, XP and Mac OS 8.6, 9.x






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