Mini DigiDrive 7-in-1 Flash Card Reader
The Addonics Mini DigiDrive is a multi-slot flash card reader. It is powered from the USB port and accomodates CompactFlash Type I and II, IBM Microdrives, SmartMedia cards, Secure Digital or MultiMedia cards and Memory Sticks. The unit is USB 1.1 / 2.0 compliant and true Plug & Play / hot swappable with Windows ME or XP.
The Mini DigiDrive is compatible with computers with USB and running Windows Windows 98SE, Me, 2000, XP, Mac OS 8.6 or higher, Linux kernel 2.4 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 slightly smaller (3.75 x 3.18 x 0.6 inches) than a mouse so it's great for travelling with your laptop too.
The four card slots on the Mini DigiDrive appear as removable drives so you can easily move data between different types of flash memory devices. Shown here in the "My Computer" folder as the removable disks F, G, H and I.
The installation was quick and easy on my Pentium 4 2000MHz machine running Windows XP. 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.
Unlike some of the multi-card readers, the Mini DigiDrive allows you to read / write data between all four card slots simultaneously. This gives you the ability to interchange any type of data to any type of flash card.
The data throughput is rated at 1 MB/sec, 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.
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 so you don't run your camera batteries down while transferring all that data. It also doesn't tie up the camera while downloading images, just pop in another card and keep shooting. 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.
The bottom line - The Addonics Mini DigiDrive is reasonably priced at $49, it reads and writes every type of flash memory card used in digital cameras. I had no problems unplugging and plugging it back in with the computer running so it is a real "hot swappable" device. It has no compatibility problems and works flawlessly with CF cards from 8MB to 512MB, 1GB Microdrive, 64MB and 128MB MMC and Secure Digital, 8MB to 128MB SmartMedia cards and 8MB to 128MB Memory Sticks.
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 Mini DigiDrive. If you'd like to buy one then visit the Addonics web site
They also have a $49 internal version called the Internal DigiDrive II that fits into a standard 3-1/2 inch drive bay. And for those that want almost the same capabilities in their laptop should check out the $59 DigiAdapter 4-in-1 PCMCIA adapter for SmartMedia, Memory Stick, Secure Digital or MultiMedia Cards.