Atech Flash Technology PRO II Flash Card Reader
The Atech Flash Technology PRO II is a multi-slot flash card reader that can be used as an external device or it can be mounted internally in a 3-1/2 inch drive bay. It is powered from the USB port and can accomodate CompactFlash Type I or II cards including IBM Microdrives, SmartMedia cards, Secure Digital or MultiMedia cards. The unit is USB 1.1 compliant and true Plug & Play and hot swappable with Windows ME or XP.
The AFT PRO II 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 or Linux. 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 (4.02 x 4.92 x 1.0 inches) so it's great for travelling with your laptop too.
The three card slots on the PRO II will appear as removable drives so you can easily move data between different types of flash memory devices. Shown here is the "My Computer" folder, the removable disks J, K and L are the PRO II drive.
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 front-mounted USB port allows for easy connection of other devices
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. Secure Digital and MMC cards are somewhat 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. AFT offers optional IEEE 1394 FireWire for transfer rates up to 400MB/sec.
USB and power connectors on back of unit
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. External card readers are generally faster than the camera's USB port which certainly makes a difference if you're using a large CF card or a one-gigabyte Microdrive.
Everything you need to use the PRO II either as an external drive or to mount it internally, is included. There is an extra USB cable and floppy drive power cable that can be used if more power is needed when a device is plugged into the PRO II's front USB connector.
The bottom line - The PRO II is reasonably priced (~$50), it works and it reads and writes almost every type of flash memory card except Sony's Memory Sticks. 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, 64MB and 128MB Secure Digital and 8MB to 128MB SmartMedia cards -- did I forget anybody?
A year ago a single-slot card reader capable of reading only one type of memory card cost about the same if not more than the PRO II. If you'd like to buy one then check out the following link to TigerDirect.com