Imation FlashGO! Memory Card Reader

Imation FlashGO! Memory Card Reader
(OS X Compatible)

Company: Imation
Price: $69.95

This is going to be a short review, as the Imation FlashGO! card reader does exactly what is designed to do, no more, no less.

The FlashGO! is a small USB device that will read from and write to removable memory cards. It can accommodate SmartMedia, CompactFlash Type I and II, Sony Memory Sticks, MultiMedia Cards, Secure Digital Devices, and IBM Microdrives. That covers the waterfront, as far as removable memory cards are concerned.

Why is the FlashGO! useful? If you want to transfer a file between computers that are too big to be easily emailed, or the machines cannot easily be networked or interconnected, your options have been limited to carrying a separate hard drive with you. That means hassling with SCSI cables (and the attendant driver issues), or using a FireWire drive. Don’t forget power cords!

That’s a lot of bother to move a 10MB file from one computer to another. The Imation FlashGO! is a small, USB bus-powered device that you can carry in your pocket. Simply fit the memory card of your choice into the FlashGO! and then insert the unit into the USB plug on your computer. The FlashGO! will automatically mount on your desktop, and you can copy to your heart’s delight.

When you have the files copied, unmount the FlashGO! as you would any other removable drive (Macintosh users will drag the drive icon to the Trash, or highlight it and select Eject.) Then insert the FlashGO! into the USB plug of the next computer, and the drive will mount. Copy the files, and you are ready to go.

FlashGO! is also suited for transferring digital photos from your camera without needing the camera powered up. You simply remove the card from the camera, and slide it into the FlashGO! This will help improve the always too-short digital camera battery life. For the many users who do not need to move files between computers, picture transfers will likely be the primary use for the FlashGO!.(iPhoto from Apple will work just as well for importing pictures just as it would if a digital camera directly connected to your Mac Ð Editor)

I tested the FlashGO! on a Dual 800 PowerMac G4, and a PowerBook G4, both in OS 9 and OS X. While a CD is provided, no driver installation is required for OS 9 or X. OS 8.6 and prior does require a driver to be installed, as native USB support for removable drives is not provided in pre-OS 9 systems.

I began testing by taking a 64 megabyte SmartMedia card out of my digital camera, and sliding it into the SmartMedia holder. The holder fits into a slot in the back of the reader, and it is keyed so it cannot be improperly inserted.
With card in place, I plugged the FlashGO! into the USB port on the G4 PowerBook. OS X recognized the reader in about 5 seconds, and it appeared on the Desktop as another hard drive. Copies to and from the reader went at normal USB copy speeds. I transfered 14.3 megabytes from my Dual 800 G4 Desktop to the FlashGo in about 28 seconds. Copies from the FlashGo to the G4 were slightly faster. While copy speeds vary depending on the amount of traffic on the USB bus, most transfers averaged about .5 megabytes/second under both OS X and OS 9.

I unmounted the FlashGO! drive by dragging its’ icon to the Trash. When the drive icon was gone from the Desktop, I removed the unit, and popped it into the PowerBook. The trusty Titanium was running OS X, and it performed just as well as the desktop Mac. In 5 seconds, the FlashGO! icon appeared, and the files were ready to be copied to the PowerBook internal drive. Again, copy speeds were normal.

I duplicated the tests with both Macintoshes running OS 9, and found no real difference.

The unit simply worked. No muss, no fuss.

For those of you who have cross-platform needs, the FlashGO! is compatible with Windows 98/SE, ME, 2000. USB 1.1 or 2.0 compliant computers are required. Windows XP is not mentioned in the documentation.

My personal cross-platform need was thwarted, as Windows NT 4 does NOT support removable USB devices, so I was out of luck trying to swap files with my NT machine at work. For the many of you who have to tolerate a company network that uses Windows NT machines, a removable USB device is not in your future.

If you have a need for a memory card reader to eliminate battery drain from your digital camera, or want a convenient pocket-sized device for transferring files up to 128 megabytes, this is a great little gadget.

If you plan to use the FlashGO! primarily for file transfer, you will need to provide a removable memory card, as Imation does not include one. Be aware that the largest Compact Flash memory cards hold 256 megabytes, while the largest SmartMedia cards currently top out at 128 megabytes.

MacMice Rating: 5 out of 5

David Weeks

Leave a Reply