A memory card reader is a device that can read flash memory cards and transfer their contents to a computer. Flash memory cards come in various types and formats, providing removable storage for digital equipment like camcorders, cameras, MP3 players and cell phones. There are single and multiple card readers, and while the former can only read a single memory card type, the latter can read a variety of formats.
Without a memory card reader, a person has to directly connect the physical device that uses memory cards to the computer. This is usually done with a Universal Serial Bus (USB) or Firewire cable. The advantage of a reader is that memory cards can be read directly on the computer without attaching the device. This greatly simplifies using, storing and organizing the cards. It also saves batteries and wear-and-tear on the camcorder or other digital device.
It is common for people to own more than one device that uses flash memory cards, with each device using a different type of card. A multiple card reader will accept a variety of formats, making it useful for all of your memory card needs. These readers commonly feature two or more slots to accept different sized cards.
Some memory card readers are extremely compact, barely larger than the cards they read. These plug directly into the USB port and are about the size of a memory stick. Others are designed to be internally installed into a free bay on desktop computers, with an array of choices between these two models. One advantage of the external model is that it is portable, able to be used with multiple computers and/or laptops in the household.
Many newer computers, including many laptops and notebooks, have a card reader built-in by default. Printers and even some monitors may have them as well, so that the information on the cards can easily be printed or displayed. Anyone who has been thinking about replacing an aging desktop, laptop, printer or monitor, might look into these options first.
When buying a reader, consumers should be sure it supports the type of card(s) required. This includes the card's capacity in addition to the format. Some models might not read flash memory cards larger than 1 GB, for example. Shoppers should also bear in mind too that a more flexible card reader that supports additional formats might make the device a little more future proof in the event that hey acquire more digital devices later, or replace the ones they already own.
Memory card readers are typically extremely affordable, and they can be found at many online retailers and local suppliers of computers and digital equipment.