Review: Transcend USB 3.0 “Super Speed” Multi-Card Reader


Memory card readers aren’t that exciting right? You put in a memory card, and your computer, like, reads it. Woot.

However, in this era of ridiculously large memory cards and DSLRs that shoot HD video in 4GB chunks, moving large quantities of data from one device to another can be a time consuming activity.

Or should I say WAS a time consuming activity…

We’re in for an interesting transition. Moving from USB to USB 2 was pretty fantastic, but that happened during a time when a 128MB SD card was a big deal and people thought 96kbps MP3’s were a good idea. We’ve moved on, and now USB 2 is starting to show its age.

Everybody, welcome USB 3 “Super Speed”.

New gadgets are starting to trickle in like USB3 hard drives, USB3 flash drives, and of course now USB3 memory card readers. After throwing a USB3 PCIe card in my desktop, I recently splurged on a Transcend Multi-Card Reader. I didn’t have any other USB3 gadgets, but I DID have a bunch of high speed memory cards which have been languishing on USB2…

See, I’ve had HORRIBLE luck with USB2 card readers. I had a Radio Shack unit where one of the CF pins pulled out of the reader and ruined one of my pro CF cards. I have an IOGear reader which averages about 5MB/s. You read that correctly. Five. Megabytes. Per. Second. Fail. Most recently I’ve been using a pretty decent Sandisk which averages about 17MB/s, but that’s still a REALLY far cry from the 34MB/s advertised transfer rate.
This teeny little Transcend memory card reader has radically sped up my file transfers.

My compact flash cards are rated for 60MB/s, but in the Transcend I’ve seen bursts as high as 120MB/s with sustained rates in the low 80MB/s range. On the shows I produce, the Canon 7D shoots HD video at a rate of about 4GB per 12 minutes of footage. Moving a whole day’s worth of footage would take a while. Each individual file would take minutes. Now I can transfer GIGS of data in tens of seconds. That’s not bad at a street price around $20.

Slots are on board for Compact Flash, SDHC, SDXC, MicroSDHC, and MSXC, so minus that Sony format, the Transcend supports the only memory card formats that matter. The only complaint I have is that the reader comes with a ridiculously stupid-short cable. On my comically large workstation computer case, the cable doesn’t even reach from the middle of the case to the top of the case. I kinda just leave it on the floor by my computer…

So, memory card readers aren’t that exciting, but USB3 is looking very promising. This is the kind of performance we’ll soon come to expect from any device we connect, and we’ll be extremely disappointed when we don’t get it. Maybe that’s the other bummer about progress. When it works this well, we can’t go back…