Best SD Card Readers iMore 2020

The super-slim laptops and phone trend in recent years has led to the built-in SD card slot becoming obsolete. As data storage is evolving, so is data transfer. With the help of an SD Card Reader, accessing and transferring data between digital devices is effortless. To ease your search, we have gathered the best SD readers available today. 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

USB-C is becoming the preferred standard connector for charging and data transfer. Just look around; you can spot the port in several new laptops, phones, and tablets. Intel is confident that the USB-C is here to stay and it will replace the larger USB-A. The Unitek Card Reader is built with the emerging USB-C connector in mind.

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 great, 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 new phones spotting the USB-C

Cons:

  • Not compatible with the traditional USB-A ports

Best Overall

Unitek USB C Card Reader

Plug and play

The Unitek USB-C Card Reader is built for both professionals and regular users. Just plug and transfer data without installing third-party drivers.

Most Versatile: geekgo SD Card Reader

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. For extra storage capacity, you can plug the reader into your phone or tablet while capturing photos or recording video. 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 just 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-o
  • 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 plugging and unplugging your SD card when transferring data from one device to another. One reader for all your devices.

Best Transfer Speeds: Sony MRW-S1 High Speed

Can we talk about data storage and transfer without mentioning speeds? No. Recently, Sony announced that its MRW-W3 hubwith a USB 3.O Gen 2 interface will incorporate 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 great 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 superfast 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:

  • Offers superfast data transfer speeds
  • Has a 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-in a compact and portable design, the Sony MRW-S1 card reader offers superfast video, image transfer speeds, and supports HD files.

Best Value: UGREEN SD Card Reader

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. Also, it 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
  • Can read four cards simultaneously
  • Supports transfer of media in HD
  • LED light indicator

Cons:

  • Doesn't support the CF II memory card.

Best Value

UGREEN SD Card Reader

One reader, four cards

The UGREEN SD Card Reader redefines convenience. You can now read and write four cards simultaneously, without the constant need to plug and unplug.

Best Unfussy Design: Transcend TS-RDF5K Card Reader

Transcend is quite a reputable manufacturer of data storage devices. The Transcend TS-RDF5K Card Reader has a very simple, 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 amazing 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 from the little but powerful Transcend TS-RDF5K Card Reader. It also can be used as a USB flash disk.

Best Compact: Anker USB 3.0 Card Reader

Good things come in small packages. That is exactly what the Anker Card reader is. Measuring just 35mm wide, this card reader is tightly packed but still able to accommodate a microSD, and an SD card. You can read and write on either card concurrently, so you can't go wrong with Anker.

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 Type-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 USB 3.0 Card Reader is quite powerful for its size. At just 35mm wide, the card reader has two card slots and offers up to 5Gbps transfer speeds.

Bottom line

Having an SD card reader that is in touch with the changes in USB connectivity will save you a lot of headaches. The Unitek USB C Card Reader remains our top choice. 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 itself 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 really important, considering most of us just us either an SD or a microSD. To avoid unnecessary disappointment, always check if the reader port, memory card, and card storage capacity are all compatible with the card reader.

Credits β€” 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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