Kodak CompactFlash to PCMCIA Adapter Review

Author: Austin Bailey
Editor: Howard Ha
Publish Date: Tuesday, November 7th, 2000
Originally Published on Neoseeker (http://www.neoseeker.com)
Article Link: http://www.neoseeker.com/Articles/Hardware/Reviews/kodakpicturecard/
Copyright Neo Era Media, Inc. - please do not redistribute or use for commercial purposes.

Kodak Picture Card Adapter

We are one of those unfortunates who have an old digital camera that uses a serial interface for file transfers. Now that most cameras use the much faster USB port for their transfers, it almost pains us whenever we have to take pictures and transfer them using the dog-slow serial cable.

The solution is quite simple, either a CompactFlash card reader using a USB port, or for those with laptops, a CompactFlash to PCMCIA adapter. In this case, we were gunning for the former, but the latter really catches the eye because it costs a fraction of the cost of any other solution: How does $12 sound?

The Kodak Picture Card Reader is a simple little compact flash adapter that takes your CF card and makes it compatible with a standard Type II PCMCIA slot. When installed, the CF card acts like a small disk, using the high throughput of the PCMCIA bus to make CF transfers a quick and painless procedure.

The Adapter does not come with any software drivers, instead, all the drivers should already be on your Win9X/WinME/Win2000 install or within the base drivers ofyou’re your Windows CDROM. The instructions are simple, but the booklet does warn that some notebooks may not detect the card properly without an update to the PCMCIA drivers. Even though I upgraded my PCMCIA support, my Thinkpad 1400 had problems using the adapter.

At that point, the instructions were woefully inadequate, and for several hours I played around with the unit. It turned out that I couldn’t use the Adapter when both of my PCMCIA slots were occupied (I had a NIC card in the other slot). So when the Kodak Adapter was the only PCMCIA device in the system, everything worked fine. Presumably this is a problem that only affects a handful of systems, because there is no warning of such a limitation in the documentation online or in print.

The Adapter gives you disk like access to your CompactFlash card. Using explorer you can drag and drop files as you wish. Although Kodak calls it their Picture Card Adapter, and proclaims loudly on the box “Compatible with all Kodak Picture Cards”, the adapter should actually work with any standard CompactFlash card. We used a few cards from different manufacturers and none exhibited problems, so I think it is safe to say that the adapter is compatible with most CF cards.

From a performance standpoint, there is no complaint. The PCMCIA Bus ver2.1 spec, which is the current spec in use, is a 16bit standard rated at a theoretical bandwidth limit of 20Mbps. That’s even faster than the current USB bus ver 1.1 spec, which is rated at a maximum of 12Mbps. Until USB 2.0 becomes available, with its amazing 480Mbps connectivity, the PCMCIA bus is actually a better alternative for this type of transfer :P.

We wanted to include some hardcore benchmarked performance data to supplement these figures, but we only have a 32MB card on hand, and 1-2 second transfers are notoriously hard to time accurately. Suffice it to say that if you have anything 256MB and less in size, you will be very satisfied with the performance of this adapter.

When you consider the price, which is actually around 1/4th the price of the cheapest external USB CF reader we could find, this thing is a steal! The only concern is whether or not the card will give you any grief, if you have more than one PCMCIA slot in use. We have found that the problem exists in several IBM Thinkpads, but we haven’t tested on any other brand of notebook. Just be aware that there may be some compatibility issues for systems with more than one PCMCIA device installed. Our solution was to remove the other devices before using the card. Because of this slight inconvenience, and because of the potential that this may affect you, I’ve limited the score to 92%. Otherwise, with this kind of price, this thing is hard to beat!!!

Overall Score: 92%

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