CardMate PCF-100 User Review
This is the Memorex PCF-100 CardMate flash memory card reader. The CardMate directly reads CompactFlash (CF) Type I cards with a dedicated slot. It also has an upper slot that accomodates PCMCIA Type I, II and III cards.
The CardMate is designed for PCs running Windows 95, 98 or NT and works through the parallel printer port.
The CardMate allows for pass-through operation so you plug your printer into its DB25 parallel port and plug the card reader directly into the PC. The best data transfer rate is achieved when the parallel port is set to the EPP (enhanced parallel port) mode.
I've seen a lot of these parallel port type of card readers that interfered with bidirectional (smart) printers but I'm happy to report that so far I have not seen the CardMate mess with my Epson Photo printer. Even when they do, you can just leave the card reader unplugged until you need it.
Power for the card reader comes from your computer's keyboard port. There is a double-ended keyboard plug for use with standard keyboards or PS/2 keyboards. As with the printer cable, you plug your keyboard into one end of the plug and the other goes back into your PC.
The upper card slot handles all three sizes of PCMCIA cards so you can use it with a SmartMedia to PCMCIA adapter as shown above or ...
You can directly read a PCMCIA Type III hard drive such as this 170MB Viper drive. There's a little plastic trap door that drops down and slides back to allow for the extra height of a Type III device.
You can also read the IBM Microdrive when it's in the PCMCIA Type II adapter or any PCMCIA Type II flash card.
Software Installation & Use
Loading the software is as easy as logging into your "A" drive and clicking on the Setup.exe file. It creates a \PARA_PCM directory on your hard drive and loads the necessary drivers into the Windows OS.
When you stick a flash card or hard drive into the reader Windows beeps, the red LED (activity) lights up and a few seconds later a new folder opens up on your desktop.
The CardMate is accessible like any other drive device. There will be a new drive entry in My Computer. Depending on your system configuration it will usually be shown as Removable Drive E (assuming you have one hard drive and one CD-ROM drive).
You can access this new drive with Explorer or any Windows software just like you access files on your hard drive now. It is not as fast as one of the newer USB card readers but it's easily 20-30 times faster than using the serial port to download from your camera.
The CardMate PCF-100 has been sold for about two years now, when it first came out it was close to $100 and was last seen on the liquidator sites (www.ubid.com) going for as little as $19-29.00
This is an excellent card reader with fairly quick transfer rates and little to no Windows software drivers problem. I highly recommend it to anyone who needs to read flash memory card, especially CompactFlash cards as it doesn't require the PCMCIA adapter for those at all.
Because it can read CF cards and all three sizes of PCMCIA cards it is highly useful -- it won't become a piece of antiquated PC hardware any time soon.
I give the Memorex PCF-100 CardMate 5 (out of a possible 5) digicams!
It's inexpensive now at $25 to $50 various places on the Internet, it works as advertised, the Windows drivers load and work properly, it has a good transfer rate and it handles CF cards and every size of PCMCIA cards and hard drives ever made!