If you are a digital camera owner who transfers files direct from your camera to PC will, no doubt, be fed up with the speed it takes to download a day's shoot. Also the trouble it takes to locate the camera's connection cable and battery power required to power up the camera while the download takes place. Several camera manufacturers have got around this by having a docking system that removes all these issues, but what if you don't have a camera with such features?
The simple answer is you need a card reader - one like this from Atech Flash technology.
When card readers first came on the scene there was just CompactFlash and SmartMedia to contend with and most card readers accepted one or the other. Then a few more formats arrived and card readers started to appear that accepted two or more of these cards. The AFT PRO-Gear SOLO is one of the latest 10 in 1 readers that supports 10 card formats such as Compact Flash Type I, Type II, Microdrive, MultiMedia, Secure Digital, Smart Media, Memory Stick, Memory Stick PRO, Memory Stick MagicGate and xD-Picture Card.
|It's a sleek designed product that is far more attractive than the earlier bulkier versions. With dimensions of 86.5mm x 14.8mm x 59.7mm it's smaller than a pack of playing cards and has three slots so you could put three different card types in and transfer date between them. Most computer users have a one device or another these days that has a different card, so the benefit of a multi multi format reader soon becomes apparent. With this gadget you could move data around from one card to another that you're using in a PC, notebook, PDA, MP3 player or voice recorder as well your digital camera.
The AFT PRO-Gear SOLO connects to your computer using a supplied USB 2 cable. The super slim cased reader is let down by the cable which has a bulky ferrite clamp that you'd normally find on monitor cables and some cameras' USB cables. This reduces static through the cable and would normally be contained inside the power supply, but one major benefit of this reader is its portable nature - the power is provided by the computer through the USB cable, so putting up for a bump on the cable is more than a fair compromise.
The compact design means it's also very easy to carry around. Ideal if you want to take your photos to work or a friends house. You don't have to rely on them having a card reader and won't have to take your camera with you.
Installation is pain free with Windows XP as no driver is required and the device is up and running in seconds. When you then slot a card in the XP Scanner Wizard can be selected which pops up and starts to create thumbnails. You can then tick the ones you want to download and click okay to transfer them into a designated folder on your computer.
With a device like this there's very little you can test. The quoted manufacturers transfer rates suggest up to 480Mb/sec using a USB 2.0 computer connection and up to 12Mb/sec via the older USB 1.1. I timed how long it took to get 87 2.2Mb photos taken on a Pentax *ist D from a 256Mb SD card onto my computer.
Using the XP wizard it took 3min 27sec to display all 87 thumbnails and a further 1min 46sec to then get them from the card to a folder on the computer.
It took 4min 59sec to save straight to the computer without a preview first.
|It works without a fault, the only thing is the light that's been used to indicate a card is inserted. It's one of those newer blue LEDs that you find on the font of MAX Power reader's cars. That's fine if you're after a bright looking thing, but I found the light was way too bright and started to affect my vision after a while. You can always see it in the corner of your eye if you have it by your computer on the desk top. It becomes worse when uploaded photos as it flashes to indicate process is being made. I found the only way I could cope was to either move it out of site, which defeats the object or tape a thin strip of white paper over it to subdue the brightness.
The reader comes with a USB 2 cable, an installation disk and simple user's manual and works with Windows 98 & 98 SE / 2000, Windows ME / XP (no driver required), Mac OS 9.1 or later
The PRO-Gear SOLO has sleek design that looks good around your computer and it works fast to ensure files transfer quickly. The blue light may appeal to boy racers and looks great in the dark, but it's too bright and could be uncomfortable for anyone with sensitive eyes, especially if it's near you on the desktop.
ePHOTOzine Test Jan 2005
In summary the main positive points of the AFT PRO-Gear SOLO are:
Fast data transfer.
Versatile card options.
No power supply necessary.
Negative points are:
Blue activate light too bright.
Bulky Ferrite clamp on USB cable.