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CARDport Swift Syncro

August 2000 | By Phil Askey


Chase CARDport Swift Syncro card reader review
Phil Askey, August 2000

The CARDport Swift Syncro (refered to as the Syncro from now onwards) is a desktop multiple media card reader. It featuers two primary media slots the top being a SmartMedia (3.3V) card slot, the second a PCMCIA Type II slot (PCMCIA CF adapter supplied). The reader connects to either a Windows PC (98 or 2000) or Mac (OS 8.5+) by USB.

CARDport Swift Syncro specifications

Product Type Desktop multiple media card reader
Connectivity USB 1.1
Operating systems Windows 98
Windows 2000
Apple Mac OS 8.5+
Slots Top - SmartMedia
Bottom - PCMCIA Type I/II
Slot operation Both slots can be used at the same time (two drive letters)
Media support 3.3V SmartMedia (up to 64MB)
CompactFlash Type I (with supplied PC Card adapter)
CompactFlash Type II (Microdrive with IBM PC Card adapter)
PCMCIA Type I/II flash / hard disk storage
Sony Memory Stick (with Sony MSAC-PC2/1 PC Card adapter)
MMC card (with PC Card adapter)
Dimensions 120 x 85 x 25 mm (4.7 x 3.3 x 1 ")
Weight 105 g (3.7 oz)
Price Est. $75 (before tax)

Media Support

Note: cards are not fully inserted in the images below, SmartMedia when inserted sticks out by about 0.5 cm, just enough to pull it out. The rest push completely into the device and are ejected with a small eject button to the right of the slot.

SmartMedia
(native)
CompactFlash Type I
(supplied adapter)
IBM Microdrive
(IBM adapter)
MemoryStick
(Sony adapter)

Installation was a breeze, the supplied CD-ROM contained the latest drivers for all platforms, I also went to the chase-at.com support webpage to check if there were new drivers, it's good to see a manufacturer who maintains a good set of recent drivers. I installed the Syncro on our main Windows 2000 workstation, installation (as with most USB devices) was straightforward, after completition two new drive letters appeared. The first corresponded to the top slot (SmartMedia) and the second the bottom (PCMCIA Type II).

Popping a a CF card into the supplied adapter and sliding the whole lot in I was soon downloading images from my CF card. One problem which dogs all card readers (at least under NT / 2000) is what to do when you want to remove the card. Sometimes if you just take the card out the OS will complain that it was attempting to write data to the device, I personally use a utility called sync from sysinternals.com (for Unix techies it works the same way as the sync command under Unix) and created a shortcut on my Windows 2000 QuickStart bar, this simply "flushes" any data in the Windows 2000 buffers (for the particular drive letter) before removing the card.

Performance

Media Slot Read KB/s Write KB/s D/L 32 MB
FujiFilm 32MB SmartMedia Top 748 138 43 secs
SanDisk 128MB CF Card (adapter) Bottom 650 368 50 secs
IBM 340MB Microdrive (adapter) Bottom 650 268 50 secs
Sony 64MB MemoryStick (adapter) Bottom fail fail -  

Key: Read KB/s - read from card, Write KB/s - write data to card, D/L 32 MB - time to download (read) 32 MB of data from this type of card.

Timings were calculated using a Unix style "timer" utility and a batch file which copies a large file onto / from the card and flushes the buffers before the "end time" is taken. Thus, this is the total time it takes to write / read data before you could possibly remove the card. For some reason the unit we had was unreliable when reading MemoryStick's via Sony's MSAC-PC2 which is interesting because Minds@Work's Digital Wallet also had a problem with the MSAC-PC2 (so maybe the problem is with Sony's adapter).

So overall the Syncro performed well, not blisteringly fast but pretty quick, certainly quicker than reading the card through the USB port on your camera, by about 30%. And if your camera only has a serial connection then you really need the Syncro.

Conclusion

The CARDport Swift Syncro is a good card reader, it's certainly a better bet than buying a single media reader as you'll be able to read almost any media type, it'd be an especially good choice if you currently have a SmartMedia digital camera and are considering your future options (not that I'm saying anything about the future of SmartMedia). Good OS compatibility, solid reliability, simple, regular driver updates and value for money. The Syncro will probably be a permanent fixture on my desktop. For more information or to buy click here.

The Box In the box...
Quick installation guide
CD-ROM
Swift Syncro card reader
USB (A-B) cable
PC Card CF adapter
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