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Bridging The Flash Format Gap With Multi-Format Readers/ Writers

Belkin - 8-in-1 Media Reader & Writer - F5U148

The Belkin F5U148 8-in-1 USB Media Reader & Writer.

Belkin continues to break new ground in its continuing development of new USB devices. The F5U148 8-in-1 Media Reader & Writer is one the newest USB devices to come from the labs at Belkin. Belkin's ongoing strategy of offering new, cost-effective niche products, in addition to their known mainstream products, will continue to keep them in the forefront.

ModelF5U148
InterfaceUSB
Formats SupportedCF I & II, MD, SD, MMC, SM, MS/MG
Form FactorExternal
Web Sitehttp://www.belkin.com
WarrantyLifetime Warranty
Special FeaturesAdditional Software Bundle
Suggested Retail Price$54.95 US

The F5U148's claim that it supports the incredible number of eight formats might boggle the mind. We explored this claim further, and discovered that Belkin was counting some formats twice. For example, Belkin counts Memory Stick and MagicGate Memory Stick as two formats; but, in fact, they are two formats that use the same form factor and same slot on the reader. While the number of formats may be subject to interpretation, we thought this double counting was somewhat over the top. The F5U148 does support all of what we define as six major formats: CompactFlash Type I & II, Microdrive, SmartMedia, SD (Secure Digital), MMC (MultiMediaCard), and Memory Stick.

A close up look at the F5U148. The additional bundled software does add to the F5U148's value.

Belkin chose an external design for the unit that is compact, but not so small that you will have problems using it. The F5U148 is set at an angle, like many of the other Belkin products, which in this case actually aids in inserting and removing flash memory cards. The F5U148 is light, and will usually require that you hold the base of the unit down while removing the flash memory cards. The appearance of the unit, while not as flashy as some might prefer, is very neutral and will fit in with most PC color schemes.

Unlike all of the other products in this review, the F5U148 includes an excellent bundle of software from Ulead with the unit. Ulead's Photo Express and Cool 360 are bundled with the unit, and for Mac users, includes Photo Explorer. Belkin is the only company to offer additional software with their card reader/ writer. If you happen to already have these programs from a previous purchase, then this will not matter much to you, but this package includes some great programs with which to get your feet wet. Of course this bundled software is reflected in the cost of the product.

The F5U148 is compatible with Windows 98/ME/2000/XP and offers Mac support, as well. Once connected, the unit will indicate three drive devices representing each of the slots on the unit. The connection of the F5U148 to our test system had no problems. The manual offered with the F5U148 is a combination manual that covers all five of Belkin's media reader/ writer family. We found the manual to be average, but still better than the manuals and documentation offered by most of the other units.

The F5U148 performed well and we encountered no problems with the unit. We liked this unit and feel it is a good buy, particularly if you include value of the software in the purchase price. We have seen the F5U148 discounted, so you might be able to find it some places at a rock bottom price; however, if you only need the reader/ writer, other sources can provide less expensive solutions while offering the same performance.