Quick Card Readers: What You Need to Know




Card readers? Really? It might come as a surprise that these are worthy of an article, but we'd ask you to keep an open mind. You can transfer data quickly from SD, CompactFlash (CF) or XQD cards with USB-equipped memory card readers. Some even help you speed up your photography workflow by enabling simultaneous transfers from multiple cards. Virtually all of the card readers in this review are compatible with USB 3.0, ensuring that they will be fast enough to keep up with generations of cards to come.

Lexar’s Professional USB 3.0 Dual-Slot UDMA 7 Reader supports high-speed CF 1000x memory cards as well as SDHC / SDXC UHS-I cards, and is capable of transferring files from SD and CF cards simultaneously. It even enables easy card-to-card file transfers. As an added bonus, the convenient pop-up design protects card slots when they're not in use. The reader’s compact size and smooth contours make it portable, allowing you to slip it into a small pouch or a pocket in your photo bag. Plus, you don’t need any external power connector, since the reader is conveniently energized by USB bus power.

For simultaneous transfer from up to four cards, Lexar created the USB 3.0-equipped Professional Workflow HR1 Hub. The modular, four-bay station accepts up to four different dedicated readers at once, including CompactFlash, SDHC/SDXC, and XQD card types. You can insert four of the same or any combination of reader types to suit your personal workflow. Give yourself more time behind the camera by spending less in front of your computer.

Each of the readers can also be used as a stand-alone device with its own USB 3.0 interface. When two or more are used in the HR1, the hub’s single USB connection eliminates cable clutter. The Hub requires the included power supply, which is bundled with North American and Australian power adapters, while the readers themselves are USB-powered by the hub or your computer.

For extensive versatility, the Delkin Devices USB 2.0 Universal Card Reader - Pro Edition features support for 19 card types, including: CF I and II (including UDMA 7), SD/ SDHC/ SDXC (including UHS-I), miniSD, and microSD, in addition to MicroDrive, MagicStor, SmartMedia, Memory Stick (MS), MS PRO/Duo/Select/PRO Duo, MMC, MMCplus, MMCmobile, RS-MMC, and xD-Picture cards. It doesn’t require an external power source, as it’s conveniently powered via the computer’s USB port.

Also offering impressively broad compatibility is the SanDisk ImageMate All-in-One USB 3.0 Reader. It reads the vast majority of major card formats, including full-size, micro, and mini SD/SDHC/SDXC UHS-I, UDMA 7 CF, MMC, MMCplus, MMCmobile, RS-MMC/DV; and MS/PRO/Duo/PRO Duo/PRO-HG Duo. With a slim profile, the ImageMate will occupy precious little real estate in your bag or on your desk—and includes a detachable metal stand for vertical positioning, to take up even less space.

Hoodman’s USB 3.0 UDMA Reader accepts CF UDMA 7 and SD/SDHC/SDXC cards, including UHS-I. Built for heightened durability, its RAW STEEL rugged metal housing, reinforced cable inputs, and innovative "Pin Guard" protect against damage and wear and tear. This last design feature is a drop-down door that shields reader pins until a CF card is inserted. The Hoodman reader is about the size of a deck of cards, so it’ll easily fit in the palm of your hand.

A versatile device, the Cardette 3 from Moshi is compatible with CF UDMA 7, SD/SDHC/SDXC UHS-I, microSD, miniSD/SDHC, MS, MS Duo, MS PRO Duo, M2, MMC, and xD-Picture memory cards. It has an integrated USB cable, which plugs into your computer’s USB port for file transfers and power. The compact Cardette is also configured with dual USB 3.0 ports of its own, allowing for the connection of additional devices.

For transferring files to your mobile devices, Bidul & Co. offers a card reader for Android Smartphones and Tablets with Micro USB and Samsung Galaxy Tablets with 30-Pin Connectors. Each offers SD and microSD card slots, plus integrated USB and Mini USB ports that enable you to connect other storage devices. Requiring no cables, the readers simply plug right into your mobile device via their respective plugs. They’re also tiny enough to attach to your keychain.



I have tons of Firewire hard drives , and 3 Mac's with Firewire ports . Why are there not , or is there , a Firewire sd card reader ?


It would have helped to add transfer speed with some well known cards

Ryan, Thanks for the info, great article because there are so many choices. I am wondering if you know why the card reader manufacturers stopped making the FireWire 800 transfer card reader? Currently I'm using a USB 2.0 reader, plugged into a MacBook Pro. While it's fast, I see the difference, in that our older 800 FireWire readers did transfer the data faster. If they were preparing for creating devices to work better with Lightning bolt download/technology, is there a reader out there that is best for the MacBook Pro computers?

Just curious…. Thanks in advance for your feedback!