PDA, Notebook and Phone Reviews and buyers guide

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Flash Memory Card Reviews:

SD Cards
ATP Mini SD and SD cards High Speed 60x
Kingston Elite Pro 50x
Kingston Ultimate SD Cards 120x
PQI SD & mini SD High Speed
Ridata PRO 66x
SanDisk (Standard Speed)
SanDisk Extreme III High Speed

CF Cards
Butterfly Media
Delkin eFilm
Kingston Elite Pro High Speed
Ridata PRO 80x

Memory Stick / Memory Stick Pro

MMC Cards

RS-MMC Cards

PC Card Hard Drives
Toshiba 2 & 5 gig

Multifunction Drives
Ridata QuattroDrive

USB Flash Drives
Kingston DataTraveler Elite
Crucial Gizmo

Card Readers
Asante Gini 6 in 1
Crucial 6 in 1 Reader

Dazzle 6-in1 Reader
Proporta 7-in-1 Reader
Sandisk ImageMate Memory Stick Pro Reader

Card Cases

Handspring Springboard
MemPlug CF & MemPlug Smart Media

Card Readers for your Computer: Asante FriendlyNET Gini USB 6 in 1
by Lisa Gade , Editor-in-Chief, April, 2003

(Read Storage Options for your PDA: an explanation of the different types of cards here.)

Asante, a company long known for their networking products, has entered the card reader arena with their FriendlyNET Gini USB universal reader. The Gini is a 6-in-1 reader with 4 slots that's remarkably portable.

The Gini works with CF type I and II cards, the Microdrive, SD, MMC, Memory Sticks and SmartMedia cards. It's a USB 1.1 device and it comes with a 3 foot removeable USB cable. You'll also get a brief installation guide (on the flip side of the cardboard packaging insert) and drivers for Windows and Mac on the included CD.

The Gini is surprisingly small for a 4 slot card reader. It has labelled slots for CF/Microdrive, SmartMedia, Memory Stick and SD/MMC. If you have several devices such as PDAs, digital cameras and MP3 players, you're going to love having all these slots! Why? Because you can simultaneously have an SD or MMC card, CF card, Memory Stick and SmartMedia card in the reader, making it easy to copy files from one storage format to another. If you've got MP3 files on a Smart Media card that you'd like to share with your SD-based PDA, you can drag the audio files from one card to another. No more temporarily copying the files to your computer's hard drive in order to get the files from one card type to another.

Asante card reader

Asante Card Reader

The Asante reader comes with drivers for Win98 and Windows 2000, as well as Mac OS 8.6 through 9. You don't need to install drivers for Windows ME and XP since these natively support card readers), and Mac OS X (version 10.1.2 and higher) supports card readers natively without additional drivers. The unit performed reliably for me under Windows XP and Mac OS X (version 10.2, aka Jaguar).

On our Windows 2000 desktop machines with AMD processors, I did have problems getting the reader to work reliably. Our AMD desktops, like most, use VIA USB controllers, and it seems that the driver software doesn't like to play nicely with the VIA. However, the card reader and drivers did work well on these same machines when plugged into a 3rd party USB PCI card instead of the built-in USB ports. It also plays well with USB 2.0 ports, though you will of course only get USB 1.1 speeds since this is a USB 1.1 device. I had the same results with the Crucial card reader which uses an older version of the same driver software (1.5 vs. 1.7).

Once the card reader is installed, you'll see 4 additional drive letters under My Computer (PC) representing these slots. If you're running Windows 98/2000 and have installed the included driver software, the drive letters will have icons that make it easy to identify each card slot. If you've ever tried to remember and guess which drive letter represents which slot, you'll appreciate this feature! On the Mac, the cards mount as a drive on the desktop after you insert them.

Conclusion: a highly portable reader that packs in four slots: handy if you want to transfer files between card types. Nice software for Windows 98/2000 that gives you icons for each drive letter. If you have an AMD desktop running Windows 98 or 2000, you may have trouble getting the reader to work unless you've got a 3rd party USB card installed. ~$34.99 US



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