DCRP Review: Microtech ZiO! SmartMedia card reader
by Jeff Keller, DCRP Founder/Editor
Originally Posted: Saturday, March 3, 2001

Last Updated: Saturday, March 3, 2001

Back in the days before digital cameras had USB connections, a card reader was a must. Transfer rates with serial cables were terrible, and those floppy adapters weren't much better. A USB card reader made waiting for your photos a thing of the past.

Now that most cameras have USB support, I admit that card readers aren't as relevant as they used to be. But if your camera lacks USB, or you don't want to get the USB cable out every time, then you may still want a card reader (heck, I still use one).

The Microtech ZiO! line of card readers are available in three different flavors: SmartMedia, CompactFlash (Type I/II, including Microdrive support), and MultiMediaCard. All three are priced at $39.95. I chose to test out the SmartMedia version.

The ZiO card readers are about as small as possible. As you can see in the photo at the top, it's only a little larger than the SmartMedia card.

The ZiO gets its power from the USB bus, so there are no power cords to plug in. In fact, if your USB ports are in a accessible place (which they're usually not), you can plug the ZiO right in without any cables.

But for the rest of us, there's a 1-meter extension cable (shown above).

On the ZiO, you'll find a slot for the card, and a yellow light to show that it's on. My only two complaints about the ZiO are that (1) there's no indication on the unit as to what side of the SmartMedia card faces up or down. Of course that's what the manual is for. Also, (2) there's no access light -- just the power light.

Before you can start using the ZiO, you must install the software. On both Mac and Windows systems, this is a snap - just install and restart and you're ready. By the way, the ZiO is compatible with Windows 98, ME, and 2000.

After rebooting, you can insert a SmartMedia card (3.3v only, up to 128MB) and it appears on the desktop (on the Mac at least) as an "Untitled" disk. From there the rest is pretty self-explanatory - you can copy or open files to your heart's content.

On Windows, it's pretty much the same as on the Mac.

There isn't much else to say (it is a card reader after all). The ZiO is light, easy to use, and inexpensive. If you're in the market for a card reader, I'd definitely give the ZiO line a look.

Jeff always appreciates your comments and questions.

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