A card reader with point-and-shoot convenience

The MediaGear 15-in-4 Camera Reader handles just about every type of memory card.

The New York Times
Published: Monday, January 2, 2006 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, January 1, 2006 at 9:50 p.m.
Even the most elaborate digital cameras can be operated in one-button point-and-shoot mode. But moving photos from a digital camera to a computer is rarely so simple - a program must be opened on the computer and told where to look for the image files.
Things become even more complex with cameras that use different memory card formats: Either separate card readers have to be juggled for each format or a multiformat reader must be used. Also, some multiformat readers show up in a computer's file manager as a panoply of separate "drives," forcing the user to guess which one is needed.
The MediaGear 15-in-4 Camera Reader ($25) gets around those problems. It handles 15 types of memory card, like Compact Flash, Memory Stick (including the Pro and Duo versions), SmartMedia, xD, MultiMediaCard and RS-MMC, with just four card slots.
To copy images or other data from card to computer, just press the sole button on the reader. MediaGear's software automatically finds which of the reader's slots holds a memory card and saves all the files on the inserted card to a PC or Mac computer.
The 15-in-4, which is available at web.mymediagear.com and many electronics retailers, features a USB 2.0 cable and LED's that show when data is being transferred. But it is the single control button that is so appealing.
  • A RAZR FOR MANY RAZRLESS: Until recently, Verizon Wireless subscribers could not partake in Motorola Razr mania. Earlier versions of the superslim cell phone, now available in black, blue and magenta, were built with GSM cellular technology, which worked only with Cingular and T-Mobile service.
    This month, Verizon Wireless put its customers on an equal footing. It released the Motorola Razr V3c, an updated version using Verizon Wireless' CDMA technology, making the thin phone available to millions who might have hungered for it.
    Available at verizonwireless.com for $199.99 after a $100 rebate and a new two-year contract, the 3.5-ounce V3c is slightly thicker than the half-inch GSM version. Verizon has brought it out only in a charcoal brushed-metal hue. But it does allow both Bluetooth connections and file transfers, and it has a booming speakerphone, voice dialing and 30 megabytes of memory.
    It can download and play video clips from the high-speed V Cast network of Verizon, which costs an additional $15 a month. And it contains a 1.3-megapixel camera that shoots video - all in a package that fits easily into a hip pocket.
    ADDING COLOR TO YOUR HARD DRIVES: LaCie, a hard-drive manufacturer, is trying to think outside the silver-and-black box. Its new Brick line tries to improve on the typical rectangular storage device with brightly colored desktop and mobile hard drives.
    The drives look like children's plastic building blocks and come in three colors: the 160-gigabyte drive is white; the 300-gigabyte is blue; and there are two models in red, with 250- and 500-gigabyte capacities. The drives can be stacked to save desk space, although each uses a separate USB or FireWire connection to the computer.
    "People can use each color for a different thing, like music, pictures or data," said Philippe Spruch, a co-founder of LaCie and its chief executive.
    The mobile versions of the new drive, available in January, will get their power from their computer connection instead of a transformer, making them even more portable.
    The offbeat design, by Ora-Ito, is a result of one of LaCie's collaborations with well-known designers. Others have featured work by Philippe Starck and F.A. Porsche Design. Did LaCie have to arrange licensing with a certain toy company? "Oh, we never use the 'L' word," Spruch said. "These are Bricks."
    DO YOUR IPOD SHUFFLE ON THE SUNNY SIDE OF THE STREET, AND RECHARGE IT: For decades now, solar power has seemed like the stepchild of the energy industry, a technology with potential but few popular uses. But now a product called the Soldius1, made by a Dutch company, is putting solar power to use in popular gadgets.
    Plug your iPod or cell phone into the Soldius1, and place the charger in direct sunlight to recharge your device in two to three hours. (The charger works on overcast days as well, but it takes longer.) The Soldius1, available at mysoldius.com, does not need batteries and is small enough to fit in a pocket. It is powered by photovoltaic cells and can be used anywhere there is sunlight.
    It can charge the iPod Mini, Nano and Shuffle, and more than 250 cell phones, including popular models from Nokia, Samsung and Motorola. The cell phone charger ($89.99) is red; the one for iPods ($99.99) is white. A version that can charge both kinds of devices costs $109.99, and comes in several colors.
    The Soldius1 is a handy alternative to searching for a free outlet. Just remember that it will not work if you plan to charge your devices in an office cubicle or if your iPod runs out of juice on the subway.
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