Kingston MobileLite Card Reader

Author
Aron Schatz
Posted
January 28, 2008
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25645
Kingston MobileLite Card Reader
The MobileLite 9-in-1 USB2 card reader from Kingston combines a great design with mobile usability. Mobile users should take note of this product.

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Intro:

Another year goes by and I get to meet and greet many companies at CES. I was happy to see David from Kingston Technology once again. It turns out that Kingston is going to be making a large push for the consumer flash market. They want to have a much larger presence and compete with big players such as Lexar (owned by Micron). Kingston has the resources and today, we will look at their MobileLite 9-in-1 USB2 card reader.

Disclaimer:

I have finally made the jump to building a lightbox for taking proper photos. These photos will be getting better in time as I get the lighting and shadows exactly where they should be. I'm truly sorry for not doing this simple step before, but it is better late than never.

Packaging:

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Kingston packages the MobileLite in the amazing blister package. Grab a pair of scissors to break it open. It is very interesting to note that the package contains not only a magnetic strip but a RFID tag as well. We are really starting to see many companies using RFID to track their products. That is some scary stuff.

Parts:

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Included in the box: The card reader, a USB extension (very small), and a keychain strap. There is an insert in the package for instructions that basically say to plug the reader in and use the card.

MobileLite:

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The reader itself is not much bigger than a normal sized USB flash drive. Granted, the MobileLite can only handle SD and MMC (and its variants including micro and SDHC), there is much versatility in its use. Since it is hardly bigger than a normal flash drive, you can use it as one with no problem. Imagine keeping a mini-SD card in the slot and having the other slots free for other memory cards. This is a very handy device.

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The MobileLite opens like a butterfly. The two protective flaps open up to reveal the internal card insertion points. On one side you have the micro and mini card sizes and the other contains the standard size cards. This reader handles SDHC as well with no problem. The MobileLite features the USB plug built into the device itself. You only need to worry about carrying a cable if the device doesn't fit into the USB port on your laptop due to physical limitations sourrounding the port. If you need a small extension, Kingston includes ones with the device.

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Here is an example of using the drive as a normal flash device. Just close the protective lid after locking the card in and you are good to go with unlimited mobile storage from one device. Since the reader is so small, you don't need to worry about bulky devices or extra cables to stock up on. The card in the device is an 8GB SDHC made by Kingston. ASE Labs will have a review of this card this week.

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One other design choice that really makes this product shine is the way the keychain holder works. Not only does it loop through the device itself, it also passes through the cap. Now you won't be able to lose either device. This was a very ingenious move on Kingston's part and I hope other companies follow suit. It is bad when the strap is on the cap alone so the device falls off when you have it on your keychain.

Testing:

The MobileLite was tested against the »Lexar RW022 that was previously reviewed. The cards tested were limited to the regular SanDisk SD 2GB and the SanDish Ultra2 SD 2GB. Testing was done on Kubuntu 7.10. The blue color indicates the MobileLite and the gray indicates the RW022.

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Here are the read and write benchmarks. The MobileLite is generally slower than a bigger unit such as the Lexar RW022. You are trading some speed for more mobility but you also lose the ability to reader nearly every card on the market as well. Interesting trade-off.

Conclusion:

For about $20 at Amazon (which includes a 1GB SD card), you can own this nice little device. Since this devices reads only MMC and SD variants, make sure your memory will work. Most consumer electronics are using SD, so most people should be happy to own the MobileLite. It is a great mobile reader.

I'd like to thank David from Kingston for making this review possible.
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