USB Readers Play the Cards

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Apple's iMacs and the recently introduced blue Power Macs G3's–lacking the familiar serial port–pose a challenge if you want to download images from a digital camera. Even if your Mac has a serial connection, transferring pictures to your hard drive can be painfully slow. Fortunately, there are alternatives: San-Disk (408/542-0500, ), Newer Technology (316/943-0222, ), and Microtech (203/482-9402, ) have introduced inexpensive USB devices that can quickly transfer images stored on CompactFlash or SmartMedia cards, the most popular storage media for digital cameras.

For cameras that store images on CompactFlash cards, SanDisk's $89 USB ImageMate–currently shipping–transfers images at up to 750 Kbps. Another CompactFlash option is Newer's $99 uFlash CF, which downloads images at 900 Kbps. For cameras that use SmartMedia cards, Newer's $89 uFlash SM offers the same transfer rate. Both Newer readers are scheduled to ship by the time you read this.

Not sure which media you'll be using? Microtech's $89 USB CameraMate reads both. Set to ship by the time you read this, the CameraMate can download images from CompactFlash or SmartMedia cards at up to 1.2MB per second.

The matchbook-size CompactFlash cards, which can store up to 48MB apiece, work with digital cameras from Kodak, Agfa, Nikon, Epson, and other companies. Cameras that support SmartMedia include models from Toshiba, Olympus, and Fuji. The cards, which are much thinner than CompactFlash media, hold up to 16MB each.

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