Memory Card Reader heroSource: iMore

Best SD Card Readers iMore 2020

In the quest to build super-slim laptops and phones, the built-in SD card slot is becoming obsolete. And just like that, memory card readers are back. Using some of the best SD Card Readers available today makes access and transfer of data between a growing number of digital devices effortless. Our top pick is the Unitek USB C Card Reader . This device has three card slots, can read all three cards simultaneously, and has a USB-C connector.

Best Overall: Unitek USB C Card Reader

Unitek USB C Card ReaderSource: Unitek

The USB-C is becoming the preferred standard connector for charging and data transfer. Intel is confident that the USB-C is here to stay, and it will replace the larger USB-A. Therefore, why not future proof your accessories by getting the Unitek Card Reader built with the emerging USB-C connector.

The card reader has three slots for the SD, CF, and Micro SD cards so that you can read the three cards simultaneously. The write and read speed offered by the Unitek Card Reader is remarkable, considering that you can transfer 30GB of data in about eight minutes. Additionally, the card reader is built to plug and play; you don't need to install third-party drivers. You can now conveniently access and transfer data between a memory card and any device that spots the USB-C.

Pros:

  • Reads up to three memory cards simultaneously
  • Has a light to indicate successful connection
  • Compatible with SD, CF, and Micro SD cards
  • Works with devices spotting the USB-C

Cons:

  • Not compatible with the traditional USB-A ports

Best Overall

Unitek USB C Card Reader

Plug and play

This reader is built for both professionals and regular users. Plug and transfer data without installing third-party drivers.

Best Compact: Anker USB 3.0 Card Reader

Anker USB 3.0 Card ReaderSource: Anker

Good things come in small packages. That is precisely what the Anker Card reader is. Measuring just 35mm wide, this card reader is tightly packed but can still accommodate a microSD and an SD card. You can read and write on either card concurrently.

The write and read supported by the Anker card reader are dependent on the memory card. However, the reader is fitted with a USB 3.0 interface, which supports the 5Gbps read and write super speeds offered by modern memory cards. If your computer has a USB-A port, Windows 10 / 8 / 7 /Vista, or MAC OSX, the card reader works just fine. Earlier versions of the operating systems will require you to install patches to support the exFAT file system.

Pros:

  • Offers fast read-write speeds
  • LED light to indicate connectivity
  • Plug and play
  • Read-write two cards simultaneously

Cons:

  • Easy to misplace due to its small size

Best Compact

Anker USB 3.0 Card Reader

Short and sweet

The Anker card Reader is quite powerful for its size. At just 35mm, the reader has two card slots and offers good transfer speeds.

Most Versatile: geekgo SD Card Reader

geekgo SD Card ReaderSource: Amazon

The geekgo SD card reader is one of the most versatile SD/microSD card readers available. The card reader is fitted with four interfaces, a USB-C, a USB-A for computers, a Micro-USB for android phones with OTG function, and an adapter for iOS devices. You can plug the reader into your phone or tablet while capturing photos or recording videos for extra storage capacity. The card reader supports plug and play for all devices except for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod. For those, you will need to download iUSB Pro, a free data management app from the AppStore.

The geekgo is a great card reader, especially when traveling. You can transfer music or videos onto your SD card before traveling, then plug and play. Android devices that use the Micro-USB port need to have the OTG function. This is a standardized feature that enables devices to read data directly from a USB.

Pros:

  • Four different USB interfaces
  • Provides additional storage on-the-go
  • Plug and play on most devices
  • Connects SD card directly to the camera

Cons:

  • Requires an app for iOS devices
  • Not compatible with USB-C connector in iPad Pro.

Most Versatile

geekgo SD Card Reader

One reader, four devices

Say goodbye to constant unplugging and re-plugging your card when transferring data from one device to another.

Best Transfer Speeds: Sony MRW-S1 High Speed

Sony MRW-S1 High SpeedSource: Amazon

Can we talk about data storage and transfer without mentioning speeds? No. Recently, Sony announced the launch of its MRW-W3 hub that incorporates a bunch of interfaces and is the world's fastest SD card reader, offering speeds of 300MB/s. As we wait for the Sony MRW-S3, we have the Sony MRW-S1 High-Speed SD card reader. The card reader has a USB 3.0 connector, which offers excellent read and write speeds. The USB connector works perfectly with the enhanced USB 3.1 Gen 1 interface on modern computers to transfer high-quality files at supersonic speeds. The card reader has a light to indicate connectivity and active transfer status. So, if you want it done fast, this is the one to have.

Pros:

  • Supersonic data transfer speeds
  • Connection light indicator
  • Compatible with SD and microSD cards
  • Has a cap to protect the USB plug

Cons:

  • Chunky and blocks adjacent USB ports

Best Transfer Speeds

Sony MRW-S1 High Speed

Superfast read/write speeds

Built into a compact, pocket-sized design, the Sony MRW-S1 reader offers superfast data transfer speeds, even in HD.

Best Value: UGREEN SD Card Reader

UGREEN SD Card ReaderSource: UGREEN

The UGREEN SD Card Reader has four slots for the SD, microSD, CF, and MS cards, up to 512 GB. The UGREEN reads all the four cards simultaneously, putting an end to the constant need for plugging and unplugging. Fitted with a USB 3.0 interface, the card has phenomenal read speeds of 5Gbps, enabling you to transfer high-definition photos and videos in the shortest time. The card reader has a sturdy build, making it an ideal grab and go device. It also comes with a 1.5-foot long cable that gives you room to use other computer ports while it's plugged in.

Pros:

  • Reads and writes large capacity cards: 512GB
  • Plug and play
  • Reads four cards simultaneously
  • Supports transfer of media in HD
  • LED light indicator

Cons:

  • It doesn't support the CF II memory card.

Best Value

UGREEN SD Card Reader

One reader, four cards

This card reader redefines convenience. You can read and write four cards simultaneously, without the need to unplug and re-plug.

Best Unfussy Design: Transcend TS-RDF5K Card Reader

Transcend TS-RDF5K Card ReaderSource: Transcend

Transcend is a reputable manufacturer of data storage devices. The Transcend TS-RDF5K Card Reader has a straightforward, functional design and works like a charm. At just 56mm long, the card reader has two slots for a microSD and an SD card. Using a USB-A connector with a USB 3.0 interface, the card reader supports the transfer of high-resolution photos and videos. However, the read and write speeds offered are dependent on the memory card speeds. Regardless, it is faster than connectors with a USB 2.O interface.

Even more impressive is that the card reader comes with RecoveRx software. This is a simple to use software application that will enable you to trace and recover deleted files from your memory card. The reader has an LED light that comes on once plugged in or when transferring data.

Pros:

  • Doubles up as a USB flash disk
  • Small enough to carry around
  • Compatible with all SD and microSD cards
  • Reads and writes high-res images and videos

Cons:

  • Runs hot when in use

Best Unfussy Design

Transcend TS-RDF5K Card Reader

Simple and functional

Enjoy convenient data access and transfer with the little but powerful TS-RDF5K card reader. It doubles up as a USB flash disk.

Bottom line

Having an SD card reader that is in touch with USB connectivity changes will save you a lot of headaches. Our best SD card reader has to be the Unitek USB C Card Reader. This card reader has three card slots, comes with a USB-C interface, and a mini cable that will leave room to access other computer ports. The USB-C connector is the preferred connector with several recent phones and computers, and the card reader has great read and write speeds. Plus, the Unitek Card reader is a plug and play peripheral. You won't need to install third-party drivers and applications to use it.

The number of card slots a card reader has may not be significant, considering most of us use either an SD or a microSD. To avoid unnecessary disappointment, always check if the reader port, memory card, and card storage capacity are compatible with the card reader.

Credits — The team that worked on this guide

Grace Monene is an avid Tech Writer. If she is not reading, she is reviewing or testing new technology. She also probably tweets way too much.

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