The Reviews - What Devices Did We Test?
We contacted companies whose products regularly compete in this arena. We asked for submissions from a variety of sources that either build or market Multi-Format flash card readers/ writers, and we received products for evaluation from Atech-Flash, Belkin, Carry, Imation, Kingston, PQI, and SanDisk. Several of the "usual suspects," who shall remain unnamed (including at least two companies that we consider to be industry leaders) did not respond to our request to submit products for this review. (The sole reason we mention this lack of response is to head off - in advance - the reader inquiries we usually receive as to why a review of "X's" or "Y's" products weren't included.)
As is customary in THG's review process, each company was provided the same adequate amount of time to ship products to us for review; products that arrived after our previously published "hard" deadline were not considered for this review, out of fairness to the vendors who did submit products within our timeframe. We also did not review or consider any device that was submitted to us if it only supported a Single Flash card format, since this was not the focus of our review. For purposes of this review, we define "Multi-Format" as any device that supports, or is capable of supporting, at least three different flash card formats.
During the submission phase of the review process, we were puzzled by the lack of Multi-Format devices that support either USB 2.0 or 1394 FireWire. Only two devices were submitted to us that were Multi-Format and that also offer the high-speed performance of either USB 2.0 or 1394 FireWire. The USB 2.0 PQI - 6-In-1 Travel Flash Multi-Function Flash Drive submitted to us was, in fact, a final engineering preview sample. PQI is in production with the new USB 2.0 Travel Flash, and according to PQI, this product should be available shortly and should perform the same as the engineering sample that we evaluated. Carry submitted the only 1394 Multi-Format Flash Card Reader/ Writer that we have seen thus far, but distribution of this product is very limited, and it may or may not be available in your locale. Several companies asked us to review their Single Format USB 2.0 or 1394 FireWire flash card readers/ writers, but as mentioned above, we wanted to limit our review to Multi-Format devices, since there appears to be more reader interest in Multi-Format, rather than Single Format, devices. (If enough interest appears to exist in high-speed Single Format devices, we might review them later.)
When we questioned companies about the lack of USB 2.0 or 1394 FireWire support in their products, many of them replied that their products would likely be updated to support USB 2.0 in the near future. At least for now, however, if you want a high-speed Multi-Format device, your options are somewhat limited. If you want high-speed Interface support and are using only two formats, you might want to consider purchasing two Single Format devices; but our information indicates that more USB 2.0 Multi-Format devices will be on their way before too long.