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Thread: Arrrarggarh!!! All I wanted was a card reader

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    can't remember Tannin's Avatar
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    Arrrarggarh!!! All I wanted was a card reader

    I can't believe how difficult it is to get a damn flash card reader for my new laptop.

    My old, perfectly servicable Delkin PCMCIA reader, of course, won't work anymore because the T400 doesn't have a PCMCIA slot. Lenovo kept dual slots for longer than anyone else, but now all you get is an Expresscard 54 slot (which is also compatible with an Expresscard 34 card, so either sort will do).

    Delkin make a couple of different Expresscard Compact Flash readers (high speed ones - you have to watch out with CF readers: astonishingly, you can still buy cheap PIO-only CF readers that take several hours to download a 16GB card).

    I hit all the AP advertisers looking for a card reader. No dice.

    I googled for Delkin products in Australia. No dice: some other Delkin things (memory cards, for example) but no card readers.

    Right, thinks I, I'll get one from the States. Went to Delkin's site, they want US$40 for the card. That seems a little steep, but to hell with it, I'll pay it. I guess it's the rec retail. Turns out Delkin won't ship anywhere except the USA or Canada.

    Hmmm ... Ah! B&H! They will have them. Good reputation too. Sure enough, they do, and they are cheaper as well, at US $26. I place an order. Freight takes it to just over US $40, which is silly for an item the size of a credit card and not much heavier, but there you go. (They have 4 different freight options, this one is the slowest and cheapest.) No, wait! That is extra, not total! B&H want to charge me US $41 FOR FREIGHT ALONE! - They are actually proposing to sell me a $26 item for nearly $70 US! To hell with that!

    Try Adorama. No dice: they don't stock it. (And it's a wonder they sell anything with a website that hard to navigate.)

    What about Amazon? Worse! They have an Expresscard 34 version (which is fine, either one will do me), but they won't ship it outside the continental USA. Plus they too have done horrible things to their website and keep trying to sell me two other things I don't want at the same time.

    Back to Google, searching for "Delkin" and "Expresscard". After numerous blind alleys, it throws up Naturescapes.net. At last! A decent company to deal with (I've bought from them before an am already a member). They are charging an outrageous US $60, but that's still better than the crazy price B&H are asking. Oh no! That's plus US $40 freight!

    This is crazy!

    All I want is a bloody card reader. No USB nonsense and dangling cables, this is for a notebook and it should fit into the Expresscard slot that is specifically designed for exactly that task and which every reputable notebook made for some years now has has as standard equipment.

    It this too much to ask?
    Tony

    People say nothing is impossible, but I do nothing every day.

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    Odille

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    Administrator ricktas's Avatar
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    A very common day I think Tony. I reckon we have all probably done that at some stage with something we wanted.

    I had a work PC hard drive failure the other day. OK, the boss wants it fixed ASAP, so off I go to get an internal hard-drive in the Hobart CBD. NUP, everyone stocks lovely cased external drives, but do you think I could find a single computer store that had a good old (new!) internal hard drive. Ended up several blocks outside the CBD in the end when I found one. Took me about 15 shops and 90 minutes of wandering around Hobart on a nice cold winter's morn.
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    Is it possible to do a group buy on the forums Rick, and split the postage costs from BH?
    Tannin there might be a critical mass of people wanting similar small items from BH and spreading the postage cost around might be an alternative.
    Just a suggestion.
    "Knowledge is a single point, but the ignorant have multiplied it."

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tannin View Post
    No USB nonsense and dangling cables
    If you do decide to go to USB I can highly recommend this card reader. I lack in patients when it comes to downloading from flash media and this thing is fast. I can load up my 4GB cards and give you download times on my 3 different machines if you decided to go that way.

    I also found this and this. But at that price you may as well buy the ones out of the US.

    Remember, you're after quite a specific product and sometimes you have to pay a premium or suffer some inconvenience to get what you are after.
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    Using Nikon & PS CS5.

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    Administrator ricktas's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nisstrust View Post
    Is it possible to do a group buy on the forums Rick, and split the postage costs from BH?
    Tannin there might be a critical mass of people wanting similar small items from BH and spreading the postage cost around might be an alternative.
    Just a suggestion.
    The only issue is that the items would all have to be sent to one place in AUS, then unpacked, repacked and shipped to each individual member again, thus adding another level of freight, to each item. Customs would probably hold it up as well if it was quite a few items, and tax would need to be paid..adding more cost

    So although a good suggestion, I think it would end up being rather complex

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    In Training MarkChap's Avatar
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    Good links Odille, have to keep them for future reference

    None of those card readers you listed will read Compact Flash cards though. (from their lists)

    Tony is a canon man and needs to read C/F
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    It's all about the Light!
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    CD's are dead, DVDs are old hat, BluRay in the ants pants (this week)
    USB 3 is on the way. http://www.everythingusb.com/superspeed-usb.html
    SDXC is on the way (2 terrabytes). http://www.sdcard.org/developers/tech/sdxc

    Bottom line - expect to change technology (and media shift your backups) every few years.

    Mate.... don't stress .... Just get a $20 USB / CF reader
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    Analog: thanks for your handy links. Alas, those are all SD & assorted card readers, not compact flash readers. But by poking around and looking for related things, I did track down a couple of no-name ones, both from Hong Kong Ebay sellers. I'd have to be a bit desperate to try them: fleabay is bad enough at the best of times, and the thought of sorting device driver problems with a card from a no-name manufacturer is not a happy one.

    So, yes, it pretty much does have to be Delkin, or another reputable manufacturer that is contactable (Sandisk, Lexar, companies like that).

    Well-spotted links, BLWNHR! I thought about them for a while - thy are probably perfectly usable products. But for something I will use every photographic day for the next five years or so (that's about 100 days a year), it's worth getting it as right as I can.

    Kym, I have a $20 USB CF reader. It's cra.. um ... not very good. I bought it when I bought the emergency get-me-out-of-trouble ASUS Netbook in Gawler a couple of weeks ago. Not even a no-name, a D-Link or a Dynalink or some such. (These are quasi-names: better than no-name, but still a bit questionable.)

    On three different computers, it immediately complains about being plugged into a USB1 port (which it isn't), and I was damned if I was going to muck about trying to fix that in any sustained way in the middle of a trip, in a tent, with no internet access (or at best dial-up) in the pouring rain. So I did use it at its glacial speed a bit (just as well the netbook has decent battery life), but mostly I used the 1D III as my card reader! I plugged the CF cards from the other four cameras, one by one, into the CF slot on the 1D III, and used the menu to copy all the images over onto SD cards, and then put the SD cards into the builtin reader on the netbook. Hell of a method, but it worked - and a bit of a testament to the amazing battery life of the 1D III, by the way.

    OK, not all USB readers do that sort of nonsense, but it is more common than I like, and I need systems to be reliable. Secondly, USB is a non-starter on connectivity and form factor grounds. The last thing you need when you are in the outback uploading pictures in a hurry (on a trip you are always in a hurry) is extra damn cables everywhere, and the significant extra chance of damaging something (such as a USB port) by plugging stuff in and out all the time. In any case, on a laptop, USB ports are at a premium: you don't want to wate them because there are so many other things that use them: trackball, external keyboard sometimes, external hard drives for backup evey night, and (if in mobile range) wireless internet. I've been using a USB SD reader, and although it's a tine little thing with no cables (Sandisk Micromate), it's still awkward and you have to mess about thinking about what order you can do things in so as to have enough USB ports to go around. Not to mention messing about making sure you don't drop stuff in the dirt or lose anything in the dark.

    In other words, an internal reader is the only sensible answer, and my old Delkin PCMCIA DMA reader was excellent. It can stay in the machine all the time, and the only thing you have to do is plug your cards into it. Perfect.

    So all I want is the same functionality I already had before the old laptop died.

    In the end, I spent another two hours this morning hunting around and then gave up and ordered it from B&H.

    Sigh.

    Thanks all for your generous help!

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    guess i'm a bit late, but I spent awhile looking around for an older USB sandisk model which only read CF, only to find out it is no longer stocked/sold. Instead I got the all in one sandisk imagemate (really a bit larger than what i wanted). it is however incredibly super fast, i'm very impressed with it read/write up to 34MB/s

    hope it works out with your new version PCMCIA.. i've got one of those express things on my laptop, haven't had reason to use it yet.. infact the laptop just sits there doing nothing..lol waste of a good gaming laptop
    Carly - DSLR N00bie

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    Thanks, Carly. The reader arrived a couple of days ago. Typical bloody Delkin product: it has a poorly thought-out physical design, and the driver support sucks.

    First, the physical side of it: it doesn't sit flush with the laptop, and sticks out quite a way - just asking for accidental damage, that is. (Their PCMCIA card reader was similarly clumsy.)

    Second, the drivers: it arrived without any driver software at all. Obviously, I thought, it's just plug and play. When you plug it in, Windows recognises it and at first all seems well. Then you discover that you can't actually copy anything off the cards!

    Closer inspection of the packaging reveals some fine print: "drivers required" has been added at the last moment via a sticker on the box. Sloppy.

    So I downloaded the drivers, and they installed without trouble - a nice change from the Delkin PCMCIA drivers which are weird and need manual fiddling to install.

    Away we go downloading ..... and hte bloody thing has a data transafer rate of 1MB per second - i.e., 1/40th of the speed they advertise. OK, that was using a not-very-fast old 2Gb Transcend CF card, but Delkin's own PCMCIA reader does something like 8 or 10MB/sec on that same card.

    I haven't tried to troubleshoot any further at this stage, but I have to say that Delkin seriously sucks. The previous Delkin product I bought has been fast, solid, and reliable, so I was prepared to forgive the poor physical design and driver software mess. And in any case, it's not as if there is a quality company standing up and giving them any real competition.

    This one looks like being another epic to debug and get to work as advertised.

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    can't remember
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    Time to update this thread. Short summary:

    DO NOT BUY A DELKIN PRODUCT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES

    The Delkin card reader was hopeless, and crashed regularly. A few weeks later, I tried again. They have updated the drivers numerous times in the meantime - that alone tells us that they were having a lot of trouble getting the software to work - and the latest version of the Delkin driver software is no longer likely to freeze two-thirds of the way through a download more often than not. Nope, the latest version works just fine for a random lenghth of time, then reboots the entire computer. This, remember, is on a brand new T Series Thinkpad in perfect condition - i.e., the laptop computer that most people would regard as the benchmark for quality and reliability.

    Short answer: Delkin sucks. Big time. Don't touch them with a bargepole.

  13. #13
    Way Down Yonder in the Paw Paw Patch jim's Avatar
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    Bit late, but I think the answer to the original conundrum would have been to buy from B&H, but to wait until there are several items you need from them and get them all together. Initial shipping charges are outrageous, but adding extra items makes barely any difference at all.

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    I know this isn't a great deal of help given Tannin wants PCMCIA
    but for those with a desktop PC the Addonics CF Card reader connects directly to a SATA port on your motherboard and has very nice download speeds

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    can't remember
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    Jim, that's essentially what I did, except I needed the card reader promptly so the other stuff I ordered with it to spread the outrageous freight cost around was fairly low priority - spare lens cleaning pen and stuff like that.

    Oldfart, noy at all. That's a great tip for desktop PC users. But note: PCMCIA aka PCCard went out a few years ago and has been replaced by Expresscard. I already had a perfectly functional PC card reader, but new laptops don't have a slot for them, so I had no choice but to go with a new one.

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    I purchased the Delkin Expresscard 54 UDMA for my HP notebook and it works great as long as I use ViewNX (free Nikon RAW converter) as a browser. Using Windows Photo Viewer in Vista/Windows 7 is an absolute nightmare though as it crashes every 2 minutes and is horribly slow.

    Cheers
    Leigh
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    Have you tried DealExtreme? I bought a SD->ExpressCard there and it works well. How about this one? http://www.dealextreme.com/details.dx/sku.16161 For 15 bucks delivered, can't really go wrong even if it does end up breaking down.

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