Card Readers

Most digital cameras don’t come with memory cards these days. Instead, many have onboard memory where you can store a handful of images. The amount they include is usually meager, but it’s better than nothing.

The Pentax Optio W60, for example, has around 36.4 megabytes and in a pinch—like when you remembered to charge the battery but forgot to change the memory card—you can record about fifty 1280x960 images. The camera is capable of much higher resolution, of course, but even at this level you’ll get enjoyable images instead of kicking yourself in the pants for not buying an extra card.

This means that camera manufacturers must continue to include a USB cable. And that’s too bad, because you don’t really need it to download images that have been captured to your removable memory card.

Instead of using a USB cable to transfer image files, buy a multi-format card reader. Connect it to your PC and leave it there. Card readers have steadily gotten faster, prettier and more reliable. And they’re not very expensive. If you’re starting to look for the perfect under-$30 gift for Mom or Dad or the graduating student in your life, consider a card reader.

The image above shows Transcend and SanDisk multi-format card readers. Either would look attractive next to your computer. The Transcend is small and travels well with your notebook PC; the SanDisk can be removed from its tripod-like legs. Kingston offers several models as well, as does Lexar.