Most people know Kingston Technology for their memory products. Maybe you're familiar with their solid state drives or their USB flash drives. But they also have some supporting products too, like the full line of Kingston card readers. No, they might not be quite as sexy as something like the Wi-Drive, but they're arguably even more essential. You do need a way to read all your flash cards, don't you?
Today, we're taking a look at two such card readers. The first is the larger, more versatile unit and it's known quite simply as the USB 3.0 Media Reader. The other is super compact for travel and it's called the MobileLite G3 USB 3.0 Reader. Let's see what they have to offer.
Kingston USB 3.0 Media Reader
I know I said this is the larger of the two, but that's only in relative terms. The USB 3.0 Media Reader only measures about 93mm wide, so it's still quite small. They've used a pretty good quality plastic for most of the housing, plus a sleek brushed metal for the top portion. The red Kingston logo on top lights up when a card is inserted and it pulses with card activity. A three-foot USB 3.0 cable is included in the package.
There are four card slots in the front, reading SD/SDHC/SDXC, microSD/SDHC/SDXC, CF 1/II, Memory Stick M2, MS Duo, and MS PRO Duo (MSPD). This should cover just about every memory card that you have for your various cameras and other portable devices. No, it's not terribly exciting, but the Media Reader appears to be very reliable and well-built.
Kingston MobileLite G3 USB 3.0
The best feature on the MobileLite G3 is the pair of sliding covers. On the card reader side, there is a slide-out cover portion that will better hold your cards in place to prevent jostling or breakage. The USB 3.0 connector can be equivalently protected by its sliding cover too. While the USB connector is still exposed in the "covered" position, these slide-out portions help to prevent damage when the MobileLite G3 is bouncing around in a backpack or on a desk.
One problem with this product, though, is that it does have some extra width. What this means is that you may have some trouble plugging it into certain USB 3.0 ports on certain systems if adjacent ports are occupied by other devices. This is no small concern.
CrystalDiskMark 3.0 Benchmarks
To test the speed performance of these card readers, I utilized the same benchmark protocol as I do with testing USB flash drives. CrystalDiskMark 3.0 is run using default program settings on my AMD 890GX platform PC with a MSI 890GXM-G65 motherboard running Windows 7 Professional. For the purposes of this test, I used a Patriot LX Series (Class 10) 8GB SDHC card as I did not have an SDXC card available.
The above benchmark results are with the MobileLite G3 connected directly to a USB 3.0 port. These numbers aren't exactly impressive, with a 22.96MB/s read and 10.73MB/s write, but the bottleneck is much more likely to be the Patriot SDHC memory card than these readers. The benchmark with the USB 3.0 Media Reader rendered similar numbers.
To test my theory, I connected the USB 3.0 Media Reader to an available USB 2.0 port instead. The results were comparable. This makes sense, since USB 2.0 has a theoretical maximum of 480Mbps (60MB/s) and USB 3.0 has a theoretical maximum of 5Gbps (750MB/s).
MEGATechie Amazing or MEGATechie Abominable?
Realistically, both of these card readers are neither amazing nor abominable. They both have some features that are quite nice to have -- like the metal construction on the Media Reader and the sliding covers on the MobileLite G3 -- but it's even more important that they are both well-built and reliable. This is what we have come to expect from other Kingston products, so these should be no different. I've purchased really cheap card readers before and they have a tendency to be just that: cheap. I had one stop reading SD cards after only a couple months of minimal usage.
If you're in the market for a new card reader and want the transfer speeds that USB 3.0 can offer, these are both solid options. I'd personally opt for the MobileLite G3 for its compact size and simplicity, but the USB 3.0 Media Reader is obviously the better choice for those of you who need multi-card support.