USB Cameramate 5.1

Digital cameras are advancing at an ever-quickening rate. Some models are producing pictures of almost three megapixels – meaning sizable files need to be downloaded from the camera. The latest cameras offer USB connections fast enough to handle big files. However, cameras without USB usually rely on a serial connection to move the files from the camera to the computer. This can be painful, and frustrates the instant gratification offered by digital cameras. Also, serial-equipped Macs are becoming scarce. Time saver
The answer to this problem is a USB card reader – in this case the Cameramate, though there are others. USB card readers are like tiny floppy drives – you simply take your data card out of your camera, and pop it in the card reader. It then appears on the desktop like an extra drive. Downloading 16MB of data takes seconds, rather than minutes – or even hours. There is one small drawback, though. There are two competing formats of data cards, CompactFlash and SmartMedia cards. Granted, you’re unlikely to be using both, but who can be sure which camera you may buy. It isn’t the biggest problem, but, just in case, Microtech has made its card reader compatible with both formats – so you can be confident of lasting compatibility. Soon there’ll be other uses for data cards. MP3 players already use varying types of data cards, and it’s likely that CompactFlash will be showing up in these players more often. So, if you have a camera that uses SmartMedia, but think you may have a use for an MP3 player in the future, this is the card reader to choose. The latest generation of CompactFlash uses the IBM microdrive. This is a tiny hard drive the same size as a regular CompactFlash card. It’s capacity is an incredible 340MB, which makes it ideal for MP3 players, and it’s compatible with the Cameramate.

OUR VERDICT

If you want to be sure of fast image downloads and future-proof compatibility, the Cameramate is perfect. It might cost a few quid more than the competition, but it is likely to save you cash in the future.

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