Card Reader

So, for the past year or so I’ve been using my Palm Tungsten E2, with 1-gig SD card and headphones, as a portable mp3 player, because it’s there, and it works. It’s actually kind of cool — I can play games, read e-books, etc. on the Palm while listening to music. It’s quite the thing if you want to completely tune out everything around you. Yeah, the Palm-as-mp3-player thing leaves a bit to be desired — the bundled player software (RealPlayer) sucks, and there’s a constant background hiss reminiscent of my old 1980s Sony cassette walkman. Quite nostalgic, but this is 2007 — but like I said, it works.

Up till recently I used a software package called Softick Card Export II to copy music to the SD card on the Palm. It’s a nifty package that makes the Palm emulate a USB mass storage device (one wonders why the Palm doesn’t do this out of the box, but I digress). And it works, but it’s e-x-c-r-u-c-i-a-t-i-n-g-l-y slow. It takes, like, 20 minutes to copy a couple of CDs worth of 192kbps mp3s to the card. You have to wait forever for the initial copy to happen, then wait forever again for the data to “sync” to the card, so you can remove it safely. I grudgingly dealt with this for a year or so, because I figured that’s just how it was with these things. Then this past Christmas, the wife got a dedicated flash-based mp3 player. And while playing around with it, I couldn’t help but notice that file transfers to it were light-years faster than transfers to my Palm through Card Export. And I began to think, well, maybe it’s the Palm and the software-based USB storage emulation slowing things down for me. So, I went to Best Buy and paid $15 (a buck less than what I paid for Card Export, BTW) for a USB SD card reader/writer. And indeed, it’s absolutely light-years faster than Card Export.

When I initially bought Card Export, I figured a card reader might be a little faster, but I had no idea it would be this many orders of magnitude faster. Live and learn I guess. I’m not knocking Card Export here, as it definitely has its niche, but it looks like the card reader is the way to go for larger transfers.