SmartMedia Reader - USB 2.0

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Greg Lovern, Sep 25, 2003.

  1. Greg Lovern

    Greg Lovern Guest

    I searched this newsgroup's archives looking for a good USB 2.0
    SmartMedia reader, and didn't find much consensus, so I thought others
    might be interested in the one I found.

    What I chose is the Imation FlashGo! 2.0. Most places seem to charge
    around $50, but I found it for $29.99 at http://www.compusa.com (it's
    not in CompUSA's stores, according to the web site). The FlashGo! 2.0
    reads:
    -- SmartMedia
    -- Compact Flash (Type I and II)
    -- Memory Stick
    -- MMC
    -- SD
    -- Microdrive

    It doesn't read xD, though I think there are CompactFlash adapters
    available for xD.

    There are no inserts to lose, as appears to be the case in pictures
    I've seen of the FlashGo! 1.0 (USB 1.1). Instead, there are 3 slots --
    one for SmartMedia, and two slots that are each narrower at the top
    than at the bottom, to accomodate two sizes of cards; the first of
    these dual slots takes Memory Stick at the top and SD & MMC in the
    bottom, and the other dual slot takes CompactFlash and Microdrive.

    In one thread, someone was asking specifically about 3.3 volt
    SmartMedia cards. I don't know the voltage of my 64MB cards, but I
    have an old 16MB SmartMedia card that says "3.3" in one place and "3V"
    in another place. I tested it in the FlashGo! 2.0, and it worked fine.

    The box says "40x faster than USB 1.1", but I had read in this
    newsgroup that USB 2.0 was much faster than SmartMedia could be read,
    so I didn't expect it to be anywhere near 40 times faster.

    In a couple other threads, people were cautioning about readers that
    claimed to be USB 2.0 but were actually USB 1.1. I wanted to be sure
    that it was really USB 2.0, so I ran repetitive tests of copying
    photos from a 64MB card to the hard drive; 4 times with the FlashGo!
    2.0 connected to a USB 1.1 port, and 4 times with it connected to a
    USB 2.0 port. I wanted the test to be as real-world as possible, so I
    filled the card with photos to copy. The photos averaged around 1.5MB
    each.

    Here are the test times, in minutes:seconds.

    USB 1.1 USB 2.0
    ------- -------
    1:45 0:19 (5.53 times as fast)
    1:04 0:13 (4.92 times as fast)
    1:01 0:15 (4.07 times as fast)
    1:04 0:14 (4.57 times as fast)

    On average, it was 4.77 times as fast with USB 2.0. The first time,
    which is the only one that would really matter in the real world, it
    was just over 5.5 times as fast.

    These weren't precise tests; I was just watching my wristwatch. The
    margin of error is probably a second or two.

    I'm very happy with the FlashGo! 2.0, and with its USB 2.0
    performance. Especially for just $30.

    One thing I found confusing when I started looking for a reader was
    understanding the difference between USB 2.0 Hi-Speed and USB 2.0
    Full-Speed. USB 2.0 Full-Speed is just a vile marketing term for USB
    1.1. USB 2.0 Hi-Speed is the marketing term for USB 2.0. The FlashGo!
    2.0 has a USB logo on it that says "Hi-Speed". Ironically, those
    marketing terms were created to decrease confusion! I think they're
    just about as confusing as any marketing terms they could have chosen.

    For easy reference:

    If the product Then it's speed
    is labelled as: is probably:
    =============== ===============
    USB 1.0 -- 1.5Mbps
    USB Low-Speed -- 1.5Mbps
    USB 1.1 -- 12Mbps
    USB Full-Speed -- 12Mbps
    USB 2.0 Full-Speed -- 12Mbps
    USB 2.0 -- 480Mbps*
    USB Hi-Speed -- 480Mbps
    USB 2.0 Hi-Speed -- 480Mbps

    *Should be 480Mbps, but could be 12Mbps.

    The FlashGo! 2.0 is easily pocketable at 2.48" x 3.78" x 0.51". It
    comes with a fake leather pouch that struck me as a little silly.


    Hope this helps someone out there..

    Greg
     
    Greg Lovern, Sep 25, 2003
    #1
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  2. Greg Lovern

    Rich Guest

    try the multicard reader from Lexar - its usb 2.0 and does all the mentioned
    cards as well as xD

    costs £40 UK sterling.

    www.digitalmood.co.uk
     
    Rich, Sep 25, 2003
    #2
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  3. SanDisk "8-in-1" USB 2.0 card reader for US$28 at COSTCO. (Also reads
    xD)
    -Dave
     
    Dave Herzstein, Sep 25, 2003
    #3
  4. Greg Lovern

    Rich Guest

    Rich, Sep 25, 2003
    #4
  5. Greg Lovern

    Greg Lovern Guest

    Thanks for the suggestions of the Lexar and the Sandisk. I'm having
    some trouble with the Imation, so I decided to try one of them.

    The main thing that worries me about the Imation is that today it
    mangled two pictures.

    Less of a problem, but still annoying, is that I've found that if I
    delete pictures from the cards, leaving the folders, as I always had
    with my old USB 1.1 reader, the camera can no longer read the card and
    can't even format it. I found that sometimes I could fix or prevent
    that problem by deleting the folders too. But sometimes that doesn't
    work either, and I finally got the cards to work in the camera by
    copying a very large file to the card and then deleting it from the
    card. I've stopped deleting the pictures from the Imation reader, and
    instead just reformat the cards in the camera each time. Takes a
    little more time and uses some battery, but better than risking an
    unreadable card.

    I was at Costco today and looked at the Sandisk. I decided to go with
    the Lexar instead -- the Sandisk's silly "docking station" is just one
    more thing to lose, and it lacks the Lexar's dust-barrier door. They
    both read the same card types, though you might need to flash the
    Lexar to read xD above 128MB; see
    http://www.lexarmedia.com/readers/firmware_update_v128.html.

    The Lexar turned out to cost less than the Imation -- $25.21 + $4.89
    shipping at yesmicro.com.

    FWIW, unlike the Imation, neither the Lexar nor the Sandisk list
    Microdrive in their lists of formats they read. Here's what they each
    claim:

    Imation Lexar Sandisk
    FlashGo! 2.0 RW018-001 SDDR-88
    CompactFlash ========================================
    Types I & II | Yes Yes Yes
    SmartMedia | Yes Yes Yes
    Memory Stick | Yes Yes Yes
    Memory Stick Pro | (No) Yes Yes
    MMC | Yes Yes Yes
    SD | Yes Yes Yes
    xD | (No) Yes* Yes
    Microdrive | Yes (No) (No)

    *Might need to flash the Lexar to read xD above 128MB; see
    http://www.lexarmedia.com/readers/firmware_update_v128.html.


    Thanks,

    Greg
     
    Greg Lovern, Sep 30, 2003
    #5
  6. Greg Lovern

    Greg Lovern Guest

    The Lexar RW018-001 multi-card reader arrived today, and I tested it
    with 64MB SmartMedia as before. I'm very happy with it and will try to
    return the Imation FlashGo! 2.0.

    Here are the test results. Like last time, these are timed with my
    wristwatch, so they're only accurate to a second or two:

    Lexar Imation
    RW018-001 FlashGo! 2.0
    ================ ================
    USB 1.1 USB 2.0 USB 1.1 USB 2.0
    ------- ------- ------- -------
    1:14 0:16 1:17 0:19
    0:55 0:12 0:46 0:11
    0:45 0:14 0:59 0:16
    0:58 0:11 0:46 0:13
    0:45 0:14 0:59 0:15
    0:16* 0:19**

    *Immediately after rebooting.
    **Immediately after rebooting (again).

    I was surprised at how much faster the Lexar was when reading the card
    the first time (uncached) with USB 2.0, so I rebooted and retested the
    Imation, then rebooted again and rested the Lexar. The results were
    the same -- 19 seconds for the Imation and 16 seconds for the Lexar;
    making the Lexar 16% faster for the only kind of reads that matter in
    real life if you have USB 2.0.

    But I thought it was a little odd that when using USB 1.1, the first
    reads are still 3 seconds apart, only a 4% advantage for the Lexar.
    It's almost as if the Imation has some sort of 3-second delay when
    reading a card uncached.

    With the Imation, I had found that if I deleted pictures from the
    reader, the camera couldn't read the card, and couldn't even format
    it. (In some cases I could fix the problem by deleting the folders
    from the card, in other cases I had to write a large file to the card,
    then delete it, before the camera could read it.) I tested for that
    problem twice with the Lexar, and both times the camera had no problem
    reading the card.

    So, I take back my recommendation of the Imation FlashGo! 2.0. Now I
    recommend the Lexar RW018-001. (The Sandisk SDDR-88 may be just as
    good, but I haven't tried it.) The only reason I can imagine wanting
    to go with the Imation is if one of the formats you need to read is
    Microdrive.

    If you do get the Lexar, be sure to check to see if you need to flash
    it to read xD above 128MB; see
    http://www.lexarmedia.com/readers/firmware_update_v128.html.

    I hope this information is helpful to someone out there sometime..

    Greg
     
    Greg Lovern, Oct 4, 2003
    #6
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