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Dazzle’s Universal 6-in-1 Reader.

One of the reasons 35mm film remains popular is because the media is ubiquitous. You can go into any Wal-Mart from Boston to Beirut and buy a roll of film that fits every model and brand of 35mm cameras made since WWII. This is not true with digital cameras. In fact, there seem to be more image-storage options now than ever before.

SmartMedia and CompactFlash remain the two most popular media; the IBM Microdrive uses the thicker (5mm) Type II CompactFlash form factor. Sony digicams offer storage options that include floppy disk, mini CD-R, and its proprietary Memory Stick. Iomega attempted to launch its Clik! format, and Agfa even built a camera using it, but Agfa has left the North American consumer digital-imaging market. The most popular new formats are MultiMedia Card (MMC) and Secure Digital (SD). Because of their postage-stamp size, these cards are popular with such new digicams as Leica’s Digilux 1.

This media proliferation is why serious digital imagers need a multifunction card readers. And Dazzle’s Universal 6-in-1 Reader, which accepts six different kinds of media is the most versatile available. Which six media? How about the usual suspects of SmartMedia and CompactFlash, and CF’s twin, the commodious IBM Microdrive? Then there’s MultiMedia Card, SecureDigital, and Sony’s Memory Stick. Dazzle does this using a dual slot configuration that takes CompactFlash I and II in its top slot, and the others in the bottom slot. Although there are two slots, Dazzle suggests you only insert one card at a time.

Setting up this smaller-than-a-mouse peripheral is easy for Windows or Mac OS users. Just install driver software and restart. For Windows Me or XP users, it’s even easier; just plug and play. For Mac users, all you have to do is restart; plug the reader into an available USB port and you’re ready to go. Running under Windows, the drive shows up as two new drives with appropriate letters assigned. Under Mac OS 9.2, any media inserted into the readers shows up on the desktop as a floppy-disk icon.

No power is required because the 6-in-1 draws current directly from the USB bus–which also may be the source of its only glitch. It occurred when I moved the Dazzle’s cable from a Power Macintosh G4 to one of the two USB ports on the back of Apple’s 15-inch Studio Display LCD monitor. Nada. I installed Keyspan’s 5-port USB 2.0 PCI Card in the G4 and plugged Dazzle into it. More nada. So I played “swap the cords” and cleared a space in one of the G4’s two built-in USB ports, and the Dazzle 6-in-1 Universal Reader performed perfectly. If you must use a USB hub for Dazzle’s 6-in-1 Universal Reader, make sure it’s a powered hub.

One of the biggest complaints of COMPUTERUSER readers regards the built-in obsolescence of most digital imaging tools. But because this one accepts six widely divergent types of digicam memory cards, Dazzle’s 6-in-1 Universal Reader is a perfect accessory and won’t become extinct any time soon.

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