Steve's Digicams

Lexar Media

Multi-Card Reader USB 2.0




Review posted 6/28/03

Lexar Multi-Card Reader USB 2.0 Reader/Writer


Lexar's Multi-Card Reader supports 8 different types of popular memory cards: Sony Memory Stick, Memory Stick Pro, CompactFlash, IBM Microdrive, SmartMedia, MultiMediaCard (MMC), Secure Digital and xD-Picture Cards. Shown above are all the card types that the Multi-Card Reader handles except the MMC card, I just didn't have one handy for the photo.

The Multi-Card Reader is a high speed USB 2.0 device and is capable of transfer rates as high as 480 Megabits per second. When used with older systems it's backwards compatible with the USB 1.1 standards but the transfer rate drops to a maximum of 10-12 Megabits per second.

This card reader / writer is great for anybody with a MP3 player, PDA, mobile phone and digital cameras or camcorders. Anybody that transfers or stores data on flash memory cards or Microdrives will love it. It's true Plug and Play with USB Mass Storage Class (MSC) compliance when used with Windows ME, Windows 2000, Windows XP and Mac OS X systems. Drivers are included for computers equipped with Windows 98SE, Windows 2000 or Mac OS 9.x operating systems.



Lexar Multi-Card Reader USB 2.0 Reader/Writer


The Multi-Card Reader's card slots appear as individual removable drives so you can move data between some of the different flash memory devices as well as to and from your hard drive. The three slots are shared as follows:

    Memory Stick, Memory Stick Pro, Secured Digital, MultiMedia Card

    SmartMedia, xD-Picture Card

    CompactFlash Type I and II, Microdrives





Lexar Multi-Card Reader USB 2.0 Reader/Writer


Shown above is the My Computer display of drives. The removable disks G, H, I, and J are the card slots. It gets a little confusing as to which drive is which, but Windows XP will auto-launch Explorer whenever a card is inserted.



Lexar Multi-Card Reader USB 2.0 Reader/Writer


The installation was quick and easy on my Pentium 4/2000MHz machine running Windows XP Pro with a USB 2.0 add-in PCI card. I just plugged it in and after a minute Windows had finished detecting and installing all the new devices and it was ready for use. No drivers were required whatsoever.

The USB 2.0 data transfer is rated at up to 480Mbps but the actual transfer rate is dependant on your computer's processor speed, the USB port (and/or hub) and more importantly, the speed of the flash memory device being accessed.

Suffice it to say that when used with a USB 2.0 port it's always faster than using the USB interface built into your camera. And it also saves your camera batteries for taking pictures instead of transfering pictures.



Data transfer tests using the same 102MB of mixed files:

Media TypeData SizeWrite TimeRead Time
128MB xD-Picture Card102MB3:050:30
128MB Memory Stick102MB3:001:36
256MB Memory Stick Pro102MB2:171:12
1GB Microdrive102MB1:000:32
128MB SmartMedia102MB2:560:31
256MB SanDisk SD102MB2:161:05
256MB Lexar 32x SD102MB0:320:20
512MB Lexar 24x CF102MB0:500:50
256MB SanDisk CF102MB2:201:06
1GB SanDisk Ultra CF102MB1:020:40
1GB Transcend 30X CF102MB1:100:50

As you can see, transfer rates vary widely depending on the media.





Lexar Multi-Card Reader USB 2.0 Reader/Writer


The Multi-Card Reader is the first multiple format card reader that will handle the new Memory Stick Pro cards. These high-capacity cards are now available in 256MB, 512MB and 1GB sizes. As you can see from the test chart above, the "Pro" Memory Sticks are faster than the original 128MB Memory Sticks.



Lexar Multi-Card Reader USB 2.0 Reader/Writer


The Multi-Card Reader is smaller than the average mouse so it's great for going along with your laptop. The card slots are covered by a sliding door that when open acts as a stand for the unit.








The bottom line - at about $40 street price the Lexar Multi-Card Reader is a very good deal. It will be a "great" deal when it handles the higher capacity xD cards as the 256MB cards are already available and the 512MB xD cards are due on the market in a couple of months.

Once you have used a USB 2.0 card reader you'll never want to go back to the slow USB 1.1 speeds again. You may not have noticed a lot of difference when you upgraded from a Pentium 1.2GHz to a Pentium 2.4GHz computer, but believe me, you'll immediately notice the difference in transfer speed between USB 1.1 and USB 2.0 card readers - even with the slower media types.

This is a small and super-portable card reader and it won't break the bank to buy it either. If you don't have USB 2.0 it can be used with a slower USB 1.1 interface or for about $20-25 you can add USB 2.0 to existing PC/Windows systems with a plug-in PCI card. Most new desktop and notebook computers being sold now and in the future will include USB 2.0 right out of the box.







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