If a month ago you had said I would be writing a review on memory card readers, I would have laughed; it seems odd, and if you’re like how I was, you might buy the cheapest product available–this would be a huge mistake. I hope this page is of some help to you :).
Why review USB memory card readers
When I reviewed my Samsung Galaxy Note 7 phone, I went to war with my transcend memory card reader and ended up buying a much better Kingston Mobilelite G4 memory card reader. After that, I got quite interested in different USB products. I read a blog post by a Google employee, mr. Benson Leung, and in his post he explains how many manufacturers are not sticking to the USB-C specs e.g. they’re implementing the wrong resistor. This can prove fatal for any device. He has begun reviewing various products on amazon. After further research, I found a spreadsheet with products that have been “certified” as working. Unfortunately, the devices in this review page (excluding the Google USB adaptor) have not been tried but I’ve had no problems with them. It is certainly worth looking at if you’re interested in buying a USB device. As these are just memory card readers, it’s unlikely they’d ever try to draw too much current–it’s not like trying to charge a battery from your phone.
Transcend USB 3.0 Memory Card Reader
I bought the transcend memory card reader a while ago, and you can put in a micro SD card or a normal SDHC card but you cannot mount both devices simultaneously; this isn’t a fault of the phone or my computer but a fault with the memory card reader’s design. As the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 switches to USB 2.0 when two SD cards are mounted, with a dual card reader, this doesn’t really matter too much for phone use. But this particular card reader has other issues.
I spent an hour trying to figure out how to plug in both cards and copy the files from one to the other. I then thought, “hang on a moment, I’ll try this in my PC”. Sure enough, it doesn’t allow sequential read writing i.e. you can’t plug in both cards at the same time. It’s a bit poor if you want to transfer files from one to the other! The memory card reader also gets extremely hot when it’s plugged into a USB port, and I would honestly avoid buying it even though it’s cheap. The only thing in its favour is it’s lightweight and there’s an LED–great if you’re fascinated by lights.
Kingston Mobilelite G4 memory card reader
The Kingston Mobilelite G4 memory card reader is fabulous. It is not USB-C unfortunately but it can be adapted; this adds weight. If you’re plugging this into a phone, your case might not support certain adaptors and this adds weight as you’ll likely need to buy the Google adaptor listed further down this page. The Kingston Mobilelite G4 memory card reader allows sequential read writing, so two cards can be plugged in at the same time. It feels far more durable than the transcend as it’s made of aluminium. It’s the most solid memory card reader I’ve found and it doesn’t seem to get hot if it’s left connected to the computer.
Satechi USB-C memory card reader
For connecting to a phone, this memory card reader is tiny and it would be great. It was given to me for free, and Satechi seem like a lovely company. It’s lightweight, weighing slightly less than 8 grams. Unfortunately, the first one I was given failed to work at all, and the second seems to work sporadically.
It’s small, it’s portable and the connector is built such that it will fit on cases where there’s not much room to fit a plug e.g. Spigen cases. The Satechi USB-C memory card reader also supports sequential read writing, and it’s the only dedicated USB-C memory card reader to support this that I’ve personally tried. It has an aluminium casing that feels nice to the touch, and it’s innards are plastic, helping to keep the weight down. I hate to say this, but it’s not built as well as the Kingston Mobilelite G4 memory card reader.
Satechi USB-A and USB-C memory card reader
This Satechi memory card reader is extremely lightweight given it’s a multi function design. At one end of the memory card reader is a USB-A plug and on the other is a USB-C plug. This Satechi memory card reader supports sequential read writing and it is definitely the most versatile memory card reader I’ve seen. It’s perfect for travel as you don’t have to take a load of extra wires to adapt cables. If you want to plug it into a computer, a laptop, a tablet, a phone, it doesn’t matter–this device does it all.
If you have bought the Kingston Mobilelite G4 memory card reader, then you’ll need an adaptor to plug it into a USB-C device. The google USB-A to USB-C adaptor is my favourite adaptor currently available but it’s also the heaviest, this is unfortunate. 16 grams might not seem a lot but when we consider the weight of the Satechi memory card readers listed above, it is a bit too heavy. I need the lightest products available, and you might not think an extra 20-50 grams makes a difference but you only need 10 items and that’s a lot of extra weight.
If you’ve bought a USB-A memory card reader for use in a USB-C phone, it’s most likely that the little Samsung adaptor shown above with the Kingston Mobilelite G4 memory card reader won’t fit in your case, as such you’ll need the Google USB-A to USB-C adaptor. Additionally, the Google adapter seems to provide faster speeds.
As you can see, the total weight is considerably more than the Satechi devices.
Satechi USB Charging station
This Satechi multiport USB charger is awesome. It too was given to me, but I use it 24/7. I can’t fault it. It’s 60 watts, you can plug in up to 6 devices while only using one wall socket, and it feels well made. I’ve found that I seem to collect USB devices. For example, from this one unit I can charge three camera batteries (one in camera and two in a multi-charger), my phone, my watch, a USB power bank and still have spare for one more item.
If you’re travelling to a hotel and you have limited space to plug in USB chargers, this device only requires one wall socket to charge six items. You can even plug in a wireless USB charging station into it. I’ve heard a few photographers say they struggle to charge batteries in time when they’re travelling; I’d definitely check out this Satechi multiple USB charger. For long distance hikes and whatnot, this is too heavy, but if you’re staying at hotels regularly, it’s worth taking.
- Ignore the transcend memory card reader completely
- If you need a USB-C memory card reader, I’d get the Kingston Mobilelite G4 memory card reader and use an adaptor
- If you’re only interested in a USB-A memory card reader, something that’s permanently attached to your computer, then I would suggest the Kingston Mobilelite G4 memory card reader as well
- The Satechi multiport USB charger is a durable well made piece of kit that doesn’t take up too much room and is great if you need to charge multiple items in a short amount of time, e.g. when you’re travelling to different hotels
Note: Satechi provided me with sample products.