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

Carry - FISDMC - IEEE 1394 6-In-1 Card Reader/ Writer

The Carry 1394 6-In-1 Flash Card Reader/ Writer.

The Carry FISDMC 1394 6-In-1 was the only Multi-Format Flash Reader/ Writer submitted for testing. We found this to be unusual, since a number of 1394 FireWire Single Drive CompactFlash units already exist. To compound the problem, the availability of the Carry unit is 'spotty,' depending on your locale, thus, finding the unit may be a challenge.

Model1394 6-In-1
Interface1394 / FireWire
Formats SupportedCF I & II, MD, SD, MMC, SM, MS/MG
Form FactorExternal
Web Site
Suggested Retail PriceEstimated at $90 - $100 US

The FISDMC 1394 6-In-1 has a very strange design. The right-hand side of the unit is for the CompactFlash and Microdrive cards, while its top has connections for other flash formats that the unit provides. This would not be a bad design, if the 1394 cable was not required to be plugged into the left side of the unit. The 1394 6-In-1 is designed to be turned and operated sideways, but we are still puzzled by the metal stand that connects to the bottom, which appears to serve no purpose at all, at least from what we could see. The 1394 6-In-1 was the largest of all of the units that we tested, and its design and appearance are best described as rather bizarre. While the unit is portable, it would not be our choice to carry around, due to its large size.

Although the design of the unit is a bit strange with the flash card connections on the top and side, it was the only 1394 Multi-Format reader/ writer that we were able to test and review.

The unit itself does require power, a 6-pin FireWire connection. What is unique, however, is that Carry has developed a slick 4-pin to 6-pin converter that allows you to connect the unit to a 4-pin FireWire port and then connect the split cable to the USB port. With this arrangement, the unit is able to draw its power from the USB port, while being connected via the 4-pin FireWire port. This was the first time we have seen this design, and it will come in handy if you happen to own a device (such as a notebook) that only allows for 4-pin FireWire connections.

The 1394 6-In-1 is basically plug and play. Once connected to the FireWire port on the computer, one drive will be mapped to each of the flash card ports on the unit. The documentation that comes with the unit covers the connection to your computer, but it is very basic and not very helpful beyond the obvious. The 1394 6-In-1 is compatible with Windows 98/ME/2000/XP and offers Mac support as well, which is nice if you happen to need the unit to do double duty on both systems. The quality of construction of the unit is good, and we didn't encounter any snags during the setup or use of the unit.

The 1394 6-In-1 provided the best scores during our testing and, without a doubt, was highly capable of delivering performance due to its 1394 connection to the computer. We liked the unit's performance; however, from an aesthetics point of view, it just didn't make the grade. The 1394 6-In-1 performed well, and we recognize it as the best Multi-Format flash card reader/ writer that is currently available with 1394 support. Carry might want to consider a redesign of the outside of the unit to make it a little more attractive; in fact, the current outside appearance may be holding sales of this unit back. Also, the 1394 6-In-1 performance comes at a price, which makes this unit the most expensive unit we tested.