“ SanDisk ImageMate 5-in-1 USB 2.0 - Card reader ( Memory Stick, MS PRO, MMC, SD, xD ) - Hi-Speed USB „
These days you can pick up a generic card reader for virtually nothing, that's if you haven't got one already built-into your PC. Even I only purchased a Sandisk model rather than a cheap unbranded one because I managed to pick up the Sandisk cheap on an auction site.
Since then, however, I've personally encountered 3 generic card readers suddenly fail, while my Sandisk Imagemate reader has kept on working perfectly. So it seems paying a little extra for a decent brand may not be such a bad idea after all.
Before I continue, I should point out that imagemate reader I'm reviewing is indeed the "5-in-1" version that reads SD, MMC, xD and SD cards. It appears that Sandisk also makes very similar versions that read only a single card type, so watch out when you buy!
The reader itself comes with a USB cable and software disk. The software is only required if you want to use the "download" button on top of the reader. This apparently allows you to set up the reader to save your photos to your chosen photo folder every time you press the button. I have never tried this feature though, and without the software, the reader works fine in Windows just as any other mass storage device.
The detachable USB cable is about 1.5m long and a nice feature if you manage to break the included one or find it isn't long enough. It's not really unique though. And for some reason Sandisk decided to use the "A"-type connector found usually on printers, rather than the more common "mini-B" connector used by cameras, phones, MP3 players and incidentally, many cheaper card readers.
The reader appears to copy files faster than any others I have used, which is nice now that 4GB and even 8GB cards are commonplace.
It has only a single specially-shaped slot at the front which will accept all of the mentioned cards. This seems like a good idea, but in practice it can sometimes mean cards are reluctant to slot completely in. Some of my memory stick cards take a few tries at inserting before they are detected.
A very nice feature is the fact that most versions of the reader support newer SDHC cards. Mine wouldn't accept them initially, but I was surprised to find that the Sandisk website had new firmware available that updates the reader with SDHC support! The fact that Sandisk put in the effort to make older versions of their product user-updateable really has improved my opinion of them as a company and saved me the cost of having to buy another card reader.
My only real negative is the fact that it doesn't support CompactFlash cards. This is unlikely to affect most people as CF is such an old standard, and I knew this when I bought the reader, so I can't really complain.
So overall, it's a great card reader. Is it good value though? You'll have to decide that for yourself. The reliability and SDHC upgrade would have certainly made it worth the extra for me, hence the overall 5-star rating.
The ImageMate 5-in-1 Card Reader/Writer is a Hi-Speed USB 2.0 Multi-card Reader/Writer that connects to your computer's USB 2.0 port. USB 2.0 provides superior performance to transfer pictures, music, video and data between flash memory cards and your computer.
Because USB 2.0 devices are backwards compatible with USB 1.1 ports, the ImageMate 5-in-1 Card Reader/Writer will work with all existing USB ports. The ImageMate 5-in- 1 provides the ability to write data to and read data from flash memory without connecting your digital device (digital camera, handheld computer, digital music player, etc.) directly to a computer.