Card Readers for your Computer:
Dazzle Universal 6-in-1 Reader,
Storage Options for your PDA: an explanation of the different
types of cards here.)
I have a little confession to make: I live in
Silicon Valley, where bargain computer and electronics parts
stores are more common than pollen spores in Spring. Figuring
a card reader was just a card reader, I bought an inexpensive,
no-name reader from my local Fry's Electronics. Its mini-manual
was written in translationese and the drivers came straight
from coder's hell. The build quality of the unit itself was
fine, but the documentation, drivers and support (sorry, no
support: no URL, no nice web site from which I might download
better drivers) were not so fine. Not that every no-name reader
is a bad reader, but I set out on a quest to review some name
brand readers that wouldn't have me bashing my head against
the wall or wondering if the $20 I saved was worth the 2 hours
of time I spent coaxing the thing to play nicely with my state-of-the-art
Windows 2000 desktop.
Enter the Dazzle 6-in-1 Universal Reader which
the good folks at Styluscentral.com sent to us. As the name
implies, the unit can read CF type I & II memory cards,
IBM Microdrives, SD cards, MMC cards, SmartMedia cards and
Memory Sticks. Like most multi-card readers, it has 2 slots.
How does this work? The larger slot at the top is for CF cards
and the IBM Microdrive.
The lower slot can read SD/MMC cards, SmartMedia
cards and Memory Sticks. So you can have a maximum of two types
of cards in the reader at one time, and you'll see two additional
drive letters under My Computer (PC) representing these slots.
On the Mac, the cards mount on the desktop after you insert
The Dazzle comes with drivers for Win98 and Windows
2000, as well as Mac OS 9. You don't need to install drivers
for Windows ME and XP according to the documentation, and Mac
OS X (version 10.1.3 and higher) supports card readers natively
without additional drivers. The unit performed reliably for
me under Windows 2000 and Mac OS X (version 10.2, aka Jaguar).
The reader has a permanantly attached 4 foot
USB cable, and has an LED to indicate that the card is being
accessed. It's powered through USB and doesn't require a power
adapter. The Dazzle is bundled with OnDVD (PC only), a nice
app that you can use to create photo albums and slideshows
with audio that you can burn onto a CD for playback on your
PC or TV using a DVD player. The reader comes with an installation
CD that includes drivers, a PDF manual for the reader and a
manual for OnDVD. The manual states that it's capable of 1.5
megs/sec transfer rates and that seems on target.
If you have trouble reading Lexar brand Memory
Sticks on the Dazzle, visit their web site to get an updater
that will flash the reader's firmware and make the unit compatible
with the Lexar sticks.