gadg-et-oid [gaj-it-oid]


1. having the characteristics or form of a gadget;
resembling a mechanical contrivance or device.

Plugable USB Type-C Memory Card Reader Reviewed

It’s been a while since I last covered a USB-C peripheral, but true to my determination to try as many as I can get my hands on, I’m back with more.

Today it’s the lean, mean and green Plugable Memory Card Reader which sports the fastest card reading chipset they could get their hands on. It supports a dizzying variety of Secure Digital and Memory Stick cards including the newest high-capacity SDXC and MSCX.

Plugable aim to produce high-end products, catering for the discerning geek, and providing reasonably detailed technical information. The USB-C memory card reader claims support with Windows, OSX 10.10 and newer (since earlier Apple products with earlier operating systems lack USB-C ports) and Linux variants running kernels 2.x or 3.x with USB mass storage support. Even though Linux support is pretty standard for mass storage devices, having mention of Linux on a product page is a good start.

My main reason for reading/writing SD cards is for the Raspberry Pi- so I tend to write great big files (full OS images) in one fell swoop. Having the fastest possible reader is invaluable here, but is usually thwarted by the not-exceptional SD cards I tend to use.

A close second is dumping photos or videos from my camera, which is also made easier, or at least less time consuming, by a high throughput.

To this end, I sometimes also want to read/write multiple cards. Unfortunately the microSD and SD slot in the Plugable card reader are connected, so trying to use both at the same time yields some quite bizarre results. This probably wont be a problem for 99.99% of customers, and seems to be the norm with multi-card readers, but it’s a shame because two is better than one!

My technique thus far has been to use multiple USB microSD card readers, one in each available USB port. However having experienced using 9 readers connected to USB 2.0, what you gain in not having to swap out cards when batch writing, you lose to the speed limits of the USB bus. USB 3 over USB Type-C could lead to some pretty handy products in this respect.

The Plugable USB-C memory card reader isn’t my night in shining armour for bulk programming cards, and I never expected it to be, but it’s still a fast reader for a single card and fairly essential for a new Touchbar MacBook Pro owner. Since I’ve got regular USB 3 ports, however, I still use slow, cheap microUSB 2 readers quite frequently, but reach for this whenever I need to read a full-sized card from a camera.

If you need a card reader and you have more than just USB-C ports, then the regular USB 3 version might do just as well. From what I’ve seen of Pluggable on Twitter, and when talking directly to them, they’re an extremely technically conscious and approachable brand who make great products and who I’d be quick to choose over larger incumbents.

Sunday, April 9th, 2017, Personal Computing, USB Type-C and Thunderbolt 3.