IWill CR611 6-in-1 Card Reader

IWill CR611 6-in-1 Card Reader


Introduction

After a few years of having flash memory cards, the world still hasn't settled on one particular standard. There are currently 5 main competing standards (Compact Flash (CF), MultiMedia Card (MMC), Secure Digital (SD), Smart Media (SM) and Memory Stick (MS), all strong in a particular area - but none dominating the market. This makes sharing files with others difficult, if for example their digital camera takes a different format to your own. Having to plug in a different USB cable into your PC for each different type of flash card product you have can also get rather annoying when you have an MP3 Player, Digital Camera, PDA, etc...

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The IWill 6-in-1 card reader

IWill have released their CR611 6-in-1 USB Card Reader to try and deal with all of the competing standards in one small product. All of the 5 types of cards will work in it, making it a universal card reader for any flash memory products you have. It is slightly confusing (yet understanding) that they call it a 6-in-1 when there are only 5 standards, the final standard comes from the ability to read IBM Microdrives in the Compact Flash slot. Although technically the Microdrive is an actual Compact Flash compatible card, it isn't always compatible with Compact Flash readers - but in this case, it is.

Specifications
  • Supports : Type I/II Compact Flash, IBM Microdrive, Smart Media, Secure Digital, MultiMedia Cards, Memory Stick
  • USB 1.1 Interface
  • Plug and Play / Hot Swap
  • Weight : 55g
  • Dimensions : 77mm*58mm*16mm
  • Windows 98/NT/ME/XP/2000 and Mac OS compatible
The IWill card reader also allows you to insert a card in each slot and copy between any of them, not all card readers will allow this, so it is worth bearing in mind if you will be performing this operation. The CF Type I/II and IBM Microdrive share the same Compact Flash slot, as do the Secure Digital and MultiMedia Cards.

Included Items
  • CR611 6-in-1 Card Reader
  • Carrying Case
  • Instruction Sheets
  • Installation CD (including Photo Explorer SE Basic)
  • USB Cable
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Contents of the CR611 Bundle

This is quite a comprehensive bundle for such a small little device, with one of the items being a carrying case. This can be extremely useful if you are going to be using this device with a laptop on the move, as it just tucks away with all the cables needed and even includes some pockets for flash cards. IWill also include Photo Explorer SE Basic on the Driver CD, whilst basic, it will suitably function as a photo viewing and basic manipulation program.

Installation

Installation of the flash card reader is extremely simple and is fully USB plug and play. Under Windows ME/2000/XP you don't need a driver CD at all, just plug the card reader in and Windows will detect a "Mass Storage Device" 4 times (if you are using Windows 98, simply point the driver wizard to the driver CD that comes in the pouch). You will see that 4 new "removable drives" will appear:

IWillCR611Drives.gif

Each one of the drives corresponds to one of the slots in the card reader, and the drive letters are assigned automatically by Windows (but these can be changed). IWill also include some software to assign an icon to each drive under Windows Explorer - this is just to let you know which drive is CF/MMC/MS/SM. Once the drivers are installed you can plug in the device when ever it it needed and the drivers will quickly load back up and allow the unit to be used in about 2 seconds.​

Conclusion

The card reader was able to read 3 brands of Compact Flash, 2 Smart Media and 2 MultiMedia Cards without fail. They all gave about the same transfer speeds as my digital camera docking bay and generic card readers. The performance of a unit like this isn't going to vary greatly on the USB 1.1 connection, but a future version based on USB 2.0 may yield some better results - that said, USB 1.1 is compatible with almost every computer going and still has speeds fast enough for convenient data transfer.

The unit itself looks very smart compared to the usual cheap plastic readers that are its main competitors - which look fine by themselves, but the IWill unit puts them to shame in comparison. The brushed aluminium front and back perfectly matches that of the Lian-Li cases, looking very elegant next to one. The CR611 is no more expensive than any other universal card reader available, but it equals them in speed and beats them in aesthetics and accessories.​

Author
Ian Cunningham
First release
Last update

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