First things first...I was provided a card reader by the manufacturer to review.
This card reader is 2.5 inches on each side, just under 0.5 inches thick (7/16" to be exact), and the cable is about 5 inches long. There is no software to install - just plug the card reader into a USB port. Windows 7 had no trouble recognizing the card reader.
I did some benchmarking with this card reader and an SD card, specifically a SanDisk Extreme 32GB SDHC Flash Memory Card
(you can read my review of that card there). The SD card is normally installed in a Canon 60D; I used pictures on the card for the benchmarks. I only tested how fast I could read from the card reader...I rarely write to SD cards.
For the first test I moved 208 files (a 50/50 mix of raw and jpg) totaling 3.07 GB from the SD card to an SSD installed in my quad-core Windows 7 desktop. The Uspeed card reader was connected to a USB 3.0 PCI-E card unless otherwise noted. I did 3 runs for each configuration and averaged the results (all results for a given run were similar, no outliers).
- Uspeed card reader: 1 min 23 sec (37.0 MB/sec)
- Internal card reader: 4 min 5 sec (12.5 MB/sec)
- Uspeed card reader (using USB 2.0 port): 1 min 53 sec (27.2 MB/sec)
This last result really surprised me. The Uspeed card reader, plugged into a USB 2.0 port, was over twice as fast as the internal USB 2.0 card reader. I know the internal card reader is USB 2.0 because I assembled this computer myself using parts I bought. Just to confirm my results, I moved the Uspeed reader from a USB 2.0 port on the motherboard to the USB 2.0 port built into the internal card reader. The Uspeed card reader performed as well as it did when plugged directly into the motherboard. I don't want to think about all the time I've wasted transferring pictures using the internal card reader...
For the second test I created a single 3.99 GB file containing random data and copied the file to the SD card. I wanted to test the throughput of the card reader without the overhead of creating new files.
- Uspeed card reader: 1 min 36 sec (41.6 MB/sec)
- Internal card reader: 5 min 12 sec (10.7 MB/sec) - I have no idea why my internal reader is even slower with a single file
- Uspeed card reader (using USB 2.0 port): 2 min 6 sec (31.7 MB/sec)
I suspect I reached the maximum real-world speed (as opposed to the advertised "up to" speed) of the SD card with the card reader plugged into a USB 3.0 port. What surprised me is how fast the Uspeed card reader was when plugged into a USB 2.0 port. I know now that my internal card reader is a dog but I still would have expected a lower transfer speed.
The card reader has an LED on top - you can see it in the manufacturer's product pictures. The LED is green when the reader is plugged into a USB 3.0 port and red when plugged into a USB 2.0 port (amusingly, the product picture shows the reader plugged into a USB 2.0 port). I only had an SD card to test - the card goes in easily and feels secure when fully inserted.
Clearly this product is targeted at laptop users so my only complaint isn't really much of a complaint since I'm using the reader with a desktop computer. The slot labels (SD, CF, etc) are printed on the bottom of the reader. I'd love to attach this reader to the side of my desktop computer (once I buy an extension cable)...it's small, thin, and sleek. If I put double-sided tape on the bottom I won't be able to see the labels; if I put tape on the top so the labels show, well, the reader is just not as pretty on the bottom. Don't worry though, I'm sure I'll be able to overcome this trial...
I have no trouble recommending this USB 3.0 card reader - it performs great when plugged into a USB 3.0 or a USB 2.0 port.