Now I would like to return to the specific card-reader models and how the test results apply to them. First of all, most no-name products are based on slow AU6362 chips with firmware 01.26 – and most of them are internal models. There’s no talking about high speeds here because the functionality of such card-readers is just enough to read and write the card. The Apacer MegaSteno (AU6362 with firmware 01.29) is the main disappointment as it never left the group of outsiders throughout the tests. The products with the Gembird brand are poor, too.
The Microsonic CR 90 (AU6377) is quite a good internal card-reader. It is one of the few such devices to support SDHC and its speed characteristics are good, especially for its low price. Moreover, it is the only card-reader to deliver a higher speed with Compact Flash than the much more expensive SanDisk Extreme USB. Hopefully, this controller will be installed in both internal and external card-readers.
SanDisk’s products performed well as always except for the old SanDisk USB model. These products are expensive, but enjoy deserved popularity. I am especially fond of the cute MicroMate. It is going to be appreciated by people who need support of SD/SDHC cards only.
The products from Transcend are good, too. These are the M1 (on the AU6332 controller) and the TS-RD13R (on the GL829 with firmware 93.21). The latter is out of production now, but can still be seen in shops. It has been replaced with a similar model that supports SDHC, probably on an Alcor Micro chip.
The compact and appealing Pretec e-Disk II is not a new model, but its speed characteristics are good. Unfortunately, it doesn’t support SDHC cards.
Comparing the card-readers’ capabilities with those of the cards proper, I should confess that most readers are no match for the fastest of cards. So if you purchase a 200x or faster card, think about buying a reader like the SanDisk Extreme, preferably with a FireWire interface.
Now that the Secure Digital standard has reached its end and is being replaced with SDHC, which is free from the 2GB limitation of maximum capacity, the card-readers don’t have problems with it. The speed of both cards and card-readers is high enough, and your only problem may be to find a device capable of reading new SDHC cards, which are incompatible with older readers. Both formats are identical in terms of speed while the rating system of classes is only necessary to show the user the device’s requirements to the minimum write speed and, accordingly, to simplify the purchase process.
MMC proves to be a viable format that is successfully supported by today’s card-readers. Unfortunately, it is not very popular due to unsuccessful competition with SD and SDHC.
The Memory Stick standard (in all its versions) seems to be destined to a slow decline. First of all, Memory Stick cards are more sensitive to the type of transferred data and do not comply with ReadyBoost technology as the result. Moreover, these cards show low speed irrespective of the card-reader.
The last thing I want to tell you is that if you want a fast card-reader, you should buy a tested model or check out the version of the controller installed in the device you are interested in. It’s easy to learn the Vid and Pid parameters of a device if you can connect it to a PC. After that, you can predict the model’s characteristics which depend directly on the controller installed in it.