Having a vital file on a piece of media that I have no reader for is a small problem, but an irritating one. Sometimes the media is a floppy, but more often it's some kind of memory card—typically something harvested from a PDA or a camera.
It's doubly annoying when the media in question is an offbeat variety, or something proprietary that's only supported in certain circles, like Sony's Memory Stick, which is broadly supported on Sony devices and absolutely nowhere else.
Someone at Ditech, a USB hardware manufacturer based in Hong Kong, must have been thinking of me when they created the 55-in-one Bluetooth Card Reader and USB Hub. For $29, Ditech has packed an insane amount of functionality into a device the size of a deck of playing cards. No separate power brick is needed; it plugs into a powered USB slot and draws all the needed power from that.
Aside from being a three-port USB 2.0 hub (two for data, one powered) and Bluetooth 1.6 transceiver, it supports more than 50 types of memory cards, including multiple varieties that fit into the same slot size but aren't always supported by the same system. Sony's Memory Stick is supported, along with all forms of CompactFlash, SD, MS and MMC card types. There's no support for the dwindling SmartMedia format, but you can probably get around this by using an xD-to-SmartMedia adapter.
Brando also makes a 51-in-1 variety of the readerthat's almost the exact size and shape as an iPod Shuffle. It's $14, but can only read the MicroSD/MiniSD formats with a card adapter.
About the author: Serdar Yegulalp is editor of the Windows Insight, (formerly the Windows Power Users Newsletter), a blog site devoted to hints, tips, tricks and news for users and administrators of Windows NT, Windows 2000, Windows XP, Windows Server 2003 and Vista. He has more than 12 years of Windows experience under his belt, and contributes regularly to SearchWinComputing.com and SearchSQLServer.com.