Review: VST Tri-Media Reader
Jeff Keller, DCRP Founder/Editor
Originally Posted: Monday, July 3, 2000
Last Updated: Wednesday, July 5, 2000
I've got a problem: I'm a floppy-less Mac user who reviews lots
of cameras. When I recently reviewed
a Sony Mavica camera, I had to use my PC's floppy drive, then move
the files over to my Mac. I'll have a SmartMedia-based camera one
day, and a CompactFlash-based one another day. Instead of using
USB cables and installing a myriad of drivers, I wanted something
that could read everything.
was flipping through a catalog and I discovered that someone had
answered my prayers -- VST Technologies, best known to Mac users
as a manufacturer of Powerbook peripherals. VST has created what
I believe is the first Tri-Media Reader, which supports floppies,
SmartMedia, and CompactFlash (Type I and II). So, I went to their
site and ordered
it for $159.
now that it's here, I'm very happy with it -- there's not a lot
of detail to go into, but here's the basics:
Supported: The Tri-Media Reader (TMR) supports any USB-equipped
Mac or PC (running Windows 98).
There's only one plug on the back, for the included USB cable. Yep,
no power plug to worry about -- it gets power straight off the USB
bus. The drive is small and light, and you can hot-swap it (thank
you, USB) at will.
The top level of the reader is a standard issue floppy drive. I
haven't had a floppy drive on my Mac in so long, I forgot how slow
they were! The floppy on the Tri-Media Reader doesn't eject automatically
-- once you unmount the drive from your desktop, you just push the
button and out comes the disc. There is an access light to show
when the disc is being used.
On the lower left side is the SmartMedia slot. The TMR supports
3.3V (only!) SmartMedia cards, up to 128Mb. This is one of those
spring-loaded slots, like on most cameras. There is an access light
for this as well.
Type II: On the lower right is the CompactFlash Type II slot.
It'll read whatever you stick into it! There's an access light,
and an eject button for these too.
about Microdrive support: VST includes a note saying that they
do not "recommend or support" putting an IBM Microdrive
in this slot. I asked VST about this, and they said that it will
work, but you cannot have any other media in the drive at
the time. The Microdrive takes a lot of power, and since the TMR
is using the USB bus for power, if you have a floppy in there too,
there might not be enough power for the Microdrive, and it could
the various types of media is just as you'd expect-- they all mount
like discs on the Mac desktop. You need to be sure to unmount them
before you eject them, or else they could be damaged, or your computer
Mac users, the VST Tri-Media Reader is a great investment. A floppy
drive alone costs around $100, and for only $60 more, you get two
types of flash memory readers! I definitely recommend it!