With all of the devices out there today that use memory cards,you’d think there might be a standard, but, as with most things tech related there really isn’t. Most of have have an assortment of memory cards and it can be a pain to access them, you’ve got to have adapters for most all of them. Some companies over the years have decided to make life easier and include built-in card readers in computers, but not all, and most of them can only read a few of the available cards out there. With all of the different cards out there today, you’d think companies would go the extra bit and include true all -in-one card readers, but nope they don’t. I have one and I like it quite a bit, it’s one of the only 3.5″ bay card readers that I’ve ever seen where I can use a microSD card without an adapter, and it’s nice.
Why do we have to have all of these proprietary cards? They all do the same things and have pretty much the same memory chips on them, but yet they have to be a different form factor and size. Why can’t companies just settle on a universal format or two and just make life easier for the consumer? I guess what it comes down to is money really though, the companies make the product and create their own memory card to go with it so you have to give them your money to use the product, so they get you coming and going basically…
Today for review I’ve got a 3.5″ bay style card reader from SilverStone, but it’s much more than that as it does feature audio, firewire and USB on it along with 12v and 5v power connections for your external devices.
The SilverStone FP35B comes in a sturdy little cardboard box with pictures and information listed on it.
Inside we find the card reader itself along with a silver faceplate so you can choose silver or black to match your computer, screws, power cable and a user manual.
The front of the FP35B has connections for USB, Firewire, audio in and out, power for 12v and 5v, and e-SATA connection and of course the card reader itself.
Looking at it closer we find it’s well made with a solid metal closed housing, out of the back comes all of the cables for your connections including a separate molex power connector.
The FP35 is a finely crafted 3.5” drive bay device that combines a powerful card reader and a set of USB/1394/eSATA/audio ports into one. With support for SDHC media card format, it is the perfect accessory for serious multimedia enthusiasts. The DC power through cable is designed to power 3.5” external storage devices without the need to use AC adapter.
-Fits in any 3.5” external drive bay
-Full support for SDHC card
-Additional USB, Firewire, eSATA, HD audio (Azalia) ports
-Support USB 2.0 (480Mbits) for maximum data transfer
-+12V/+5V DC pass through output for 3.5” external storage without AC adapter*
–* The power cable is included in the box and support with +12V 6.4mm type, mini 6Din and min 4Din type.
Enclosure mterial: SECC
Model No.: SST-FP35B
Color: Black with extra silver front panel
Operating system support: Windows 98, Me, 2000, XP, Vista, Mac OS 9.x / X
Dimension(handle bar only): 102mm (W) x 25.4mm (H) x 140mm (D)
Front I/O Ports: 1 x USB, 1 x 1394, 1 x audio (Azalia),1 x eSATA, 1 x MIC (Azalia) ,1 x +12V/+5V pass through output
Interface : USB 2.0 (480Mbps)
Media card power requirement: USB powered
Media card support:
XD / CF I / CF II / MD /CF-Ultra II / CF Extreme /Micro Drive /UDMA CF / SD / SDHC / MMC / MMC II / MMC 4.0 /MMC Micro(w/ adapter*)/ RS MMC / HS MMC / Mini SD(w/ adapter*) / SD-Ultra II / T-Flash(w/ adapter*) / Micro SD(w/ adapter*)/ MS / MS PRO / MS Duo / MS PRO Duo(MG) / MS PRO(MG) / MS(MG) / HS MS PRO(MG) / HS MS PRO DUO(MG) / MS PRO Ultra II / Memory Stick Micro ( M2 ) (w/ adapter*)
weight: 390 g
Installation is fairly easy, at the hardware part of it, it installs just like any other 3.5″ or 5.25″ bay device, slide it in, a couple screws and you’re done. The outside looks nice and clean.
The inside though is where you’ve got a mess of wires, and depending where the headers are located on your motherboard you may have wires crisscrossing across and through your system. The wires though were long enough to reach where they needed to go.
I’ve got a nice Unitek branded all-in-one card reader, it’s similar but with no Firewire of power outputs and I like it very much. One of the main reasons I like it so much is because I do not have to use adapters for any memory card, this thing has six card slots on it and I can use every modern card without an adapter. This is an important feature for me as I access memory cards quite often, I normally do not hook up my phone, camera or over device with it’s USB cable to transfer to and from, I remove the card and do it that way, it’s just how I’ve always done things.
The power connections on the FP35B aren’t that important to me personally, I’ve never used a 12V connection outside of the computer like the one included with the FP35B, but I have used the 5V style, but it’s just a simple USB cable. I don’t use Firewire at all, and never have I don’t think. If the FP35B had included common PSU connections as external power connectors in addition to the included ones then it might be more valuable to me.
The card reader of the FP35B can read many cards yes, but for some of them you must use an adapter, that’s something that I don’t like to do at all, it just adds another step to the process and adds something to possibly lose along the way.
I compared the speeds of the FP35B with my Unitek and they were pretty much the same in terms of performance, from my experience though most card readers have the same performance, it’s rare that I’ve come across is better or worse by a large margin.
The SilverStone FP35B is a nice and useful, well made product, it has features that a lot of people can utilize.
It does though have it’s drawbacks, you’ve got a ton of wires to connect up, if you don’t use them all you can’t easily disconnect the ones not in use, you’ve got to hide them somewhere or take the unit apart and disconnect them. For example I have no need for Firewire, so on my card reader I can just disconnect that wire from the PCB board and put it aside.
The power connection on the FP35 can be useful, but I think they could be made more useful by the addition of standard power connectors like SATA or Molex.
As I’ve mentioned I’m not fond of the idea of having to use adapters for memory cards, I guess you can say I’m spoiled with my current card reader, but it’s a very nice feature.
+Easy to use and install
+Easy access to power for external devices
-Only one USB port
-Tons of wires
-Need adapters for cards