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Memory Card Readers for Your Camera

Camera memory storage comes in a number of different formats, from SD cards to memory sticks. An external memory card adapter lets you switch formats and connect to new kinds of memory storage, while memory card readers allow you to transfer your photos onto a computer, whether they're snapshots of family and friends or captures of scenic landscapes. Finding the right device will depend on your needs.

What do the different format types mean?

When searching for a new memory card reader, the first thing you'll want to keep in mind is the type of cards you need to read. Many adapters work with multiple card types, while others work only with specific formats. Here are the common types that are available:

  • SD card: SD stands for Secure Digital and refers to fingernail-sized, flat plastic cards.
  • TransFlash or MicroSD: TF and MicroSD refer to the same technology. TF is another term for MicroSD cards, which are slightly smaller than standard SD cards.
  • MMC: Multi-Media Cards are the same size and shape as standard SD Cards. This memory type works with SD slots, but SD cards do not work in MMC-only slots. Most memory card readers support SD cards and will also work with MMC. However, a reader listed as working only with MMC will not read SD Cards.
  • SDHC: An upgrade to the standard SD Card, SDHC holds high-definition video files. It acts like an SD Plus, offering the same size with slightly different functions. Because of upgraded connections, this card type may not work with all SD card readers. If you're planning to use SDHC cards, make sure to use a compatible reader.
  • MS: MS stands for Memory Stick. This memory storage type was originally designed for portable gaming systems. Standard MS cards require compatible readers designed specially for memory sticks.
  • M2: The next evolution of the original MS type, M2 stands for Memory Stick Micro. This smaller memory stick version has approximately the same dimensions as an SD card, but it requires a separate slot.

Will this reader work with your camera or mobile device?

In addition to different memory types, you'll also find three common connector types. All three types use USB connectors.

  • Mini USB: Most memory card readers and most cameras come with Mini USB, which is the standard for external memory. This port looks like a rectangle.
  • Micro USB: Slightly smaller than Mini USB, this connection type is used mostly in mobile phones and other mobile devices. This port looks like a narrow slot with rounded edges.
  • External cables: In addition to ports directly on the reader, some cards come with external cables or adapters. Usually, this type of device uses standard USB cables that plug into the reader.
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