Test Bed: Epox 8RDA+ nForce2: Athlon XP 2400+ provided by (15x133: 2.0GHz), 2 x 256MB Crucial PC2700 Ram, ATi Radeon 9700 Pro, 120GB Western Digital SE 8MB Cache, Windows XP SP1, nForce 2 Unified Driver Package 2.0, ATi Catalyst 3.2
As much as I would have liked to have tested with a half dozen memory types, I only have three CF cards. All the cards vary in size, so there's no real way to do an apples to apples speed test, so performance tests will be done as follows:
Synthetic Tests: SiSoft Sandra Disk Benchmark - Sandisk Ultra 256MB CF
Real World Tests:
Compact Flash - Kodak 32MB vs Crucial 64MB vs Sandisk Ultra 256MB - 31.4MB file transfer.
Media Testing: AVI and MP3 playback
Synthetic tests were run with a blank Sandisk Ultra 256MB CF, with a standard Sandra 2003 file system benchmark.
Not much to say here than what isn't obvious. It's certainly faster than a Zip drive when it comes to copying files. I did a real world test with a parallel Zip and found this to be the case as well. If you have some extra memory cards, they would make a decent choice for some additional storage, though don't expect great performance.
Real World Tests
The real world test was done transfering 31.4MB worth of JPEG files. Using both a Kodak Camera Dock (with a Kodak DX3900 camera) and the Crucial 6 in 1 Card Reader, we timed the amount of time it took to transfer the images to the PC. We chose to use three different cards for this test just to see if there would be any odd numbers.
For the most part, both the camera dock, and the Crucial reader were neck and neck. This actually doesn't come as much of a surprise, since both devices are USB1.1. Although this isn't a CF review, it's worth it to note that the Sandisk Ultra leads the pack. I'm going to admit that this is a nice CF card, and the speed not only saves time, but it should also save battery power as images seem to save much quicker when I take them.
I loaded up a series of MP3s, and played them through Winamp 3.0. The MP3s played fine, though switching between tracks, there was a slight pop, and a bit of lag (about a half second). Playing the tracks off the hard drive didn't exhibit these problems.
I then copied a small 50MB MPEG-2 segment from WWE: RAW with the Rock and Hurricane (damn, those guys are funny together), and played it through Windows Media Player. The clip played fine, but fast forwarding, or rewinding resulted in an audio lag.
The Crucial 6 in 1 reader rates right up there as one of the more useful products I've had a chance to tryout. Although I was limited with my memory selection, there's no reason why there would be any issues with any other memory types. Although I was very pleased with the product, a few things did bother me…
I don't really understand why Crucial chose to go with the USB1.1 interface, as opposed to USB2.0. I'm aware that small file transfers won't take long, but with the large memory cards gaining popularity, a faster interface would have been a nice addition.
I would have also liked to have seen a USB jack built into the front of the device. The reason for this is thumbdrives are another popular memory type, and along with the other six types they support, this would have really covered all the bases.
Convenience is the key here. Rather than plugging in a bunch of devices to read different memory cards, you now can use only one. For the sake of argument, if you own a digital camera, and it uses CF cards, you probably have a few cards kicking around. Naturally, one card will likely always be in your camera, but you can use your extra ones for portable storage. Then there are the digital cameras that need to run on battery power to transfer images to your PC. Not all cameras have docking stations, and others cannot operate with a power cable plugged in, so to save on battery power, just pop the card out, and into the reader.
Crucial set out to make an attractive and portable card reader, and they succeeded. Supporting six memory types, you can be comfortable knowing that whatever memory you may have, this reader can probably handle it.
Pros: Good memory support, attractive appearance, compact.
Cons: USB1.1, no extra USB jacks.
Bottom Line: It's a little expensive, selling at about 50$ US, but considering the overall package, and the typical Crucial quality, it is actually quite a bargain.
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