- Review Price: £11.95
We looked at Kingston’s DataTraveler Reader last year and were reasonably impressed with it. While the internal memory was a little sluggish and the build quality left something to be desired, those qualms where overruled by the great price and the fact that viewed simply as a portable card reader it still made for a brilliant product – adding 2GB of flash memory to that was just the icing on the cake.
One year on and we have what might easily be referred to as the DataTraveller Reader’s little brother, the DataTraveler Micro Reader. The name should give the game away that this particular device is exactly the same principle but applied to MicroSD cards, MicroSDHC and M2 cards. A 4GB MicroSDHC card costs less than £10 currently and such cards are supported by many mobile phones and MP3 players, making a reader able to accept the format fairly attractive.
Moving to MicroSD also alleviates one of the complaints we had with the SD version of the DataTraveler, namely the large size. Moving to a smaller memory card means that the new model is no larger than a normal memory stick. In terms of build quality, however, the same problems are present.
As with its predecessor the Micro Reader utilises a sliding plastic tab mechanism. This works well enough, but it feels cheap to use and doesn’t give the impression that it would stand up to much abuse – not that we’d ever recommend subjecting it to any in the first place.
Other than those small gripes, though, the DataTraveler Micro Reader seems well built and should stand up to the rigors of day-to-day use. As with the SD-orientated version the Micro Reader can be used with a lanyard, which goes through a hole in the lid and then attaches to the memory stick. It isn’t fancy, but it works.
As one would expect when plugging the device into a PC (or indeed Mac) it will take a few seconds to show up as two generic mass storage devices. Differentiating the internal and card’s storage, the device’s memory shows up as “KINGSTON” by default and this makes it easy to see which form of storage you’re transferring to, while also avoiding an potential confusion between the two.
The last version of the Kingston DataTraveler we looked at wasn’t fast enough to meet Vista’s requirements for ReadyBoost. This version, however, has no such problems and inserting the card with a 1GB MicroSD card fitted resulted in Vista offering to improve my system’s performance. This is all very straight forward, though one small issue, if you want to look at it that way, is that despite showing up as two separate devices Vista is clever enough to tell that both use the same USB interface and thus will allow you to use one or the other for ReadyBoost, but not both.
While that small success does give the impression that transfer speeds should be pretty good, the reality doesn’t quite match up. A 700MB file transferred to the internal memory took three minutes and 28 seconds (3.7MB/s), while the same file copied back to the PC in 48 seconds (14.9MB/s). Testing the MicroSD card showed better results; writing taking 69 seconds (10.1MB/s) and reading 47 seconds (14.9MB/s). While this isn’t exactly stellar performance compared to a stand-alone flash drive, it could be a lot worse.
As we said with the first DataTraveler, you don’t want to think of this as a memory stick with a MicroSD reader built in. Instead you need to consider it a highly portable, compact MicroSD card reader that just so happens to have 1GB of flash memory embedded into it.
Viewed in that regard the DataTraveler should be seen much more kindly, although ultimately its fate will come down to price. A quick look around our shopping engine shows a stand-alone USB MicroSD reader can be had for as little as £5.87 – hardly a great expense. Meanwhile. nowhere appears to be selling the DataTraveler Micro Reader just yet, so there’s no way to tell how much of a premium buyers will be expected to pay for on-board storage and acceptance of only one card. Assuming retailers can match or better the £11.95 suggested at launch, though, it offers reasonable value for something that’s potentially very useful indeed.
Kingston’s DataTraveler MicroReader isn’t perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but it is a useful and obvious evolution of its SD-card predecessor. If you’re looking for a memory stick and a card reader, or want to be able to augment your portable storage capacity as flash memory prices fall then you could do a lot worse.
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