Kingston FCR-HS3 USB 3 Media reader review

Price when reviewed

Kingston’s FCR-HS3 looks much like any other card reader, but it’s the first USB 3 model to land in the PC Pro Labs. With the fastest memory cards on the market boasting transfer speeds upwards of 60MB/sec – beyond that of USB 2’s theoretical capabilities – this Kingston looks ideal for videographers and photographers.

Kingston FCR-HS3 USB 3 Media reader review

There’s no shortage of supported formats: CompactFlash, Memory Stick, Memory Stick M2, MicroSD and SD cards are supported, and only xD is conspicuously absent. Both SDXC and Micro-SDXC capacity cards are supported, too, allowing for SD cards that push above the 32GB limit of SDHC. The only other feature of note is the red illuminated Kingston logo on the top of the unit, which flashes to indicate when the media is being accessed.

Kingston USB 3.0 Media Reader

We borrowed one of Kingston’s high-speed SDXC cards, the 64GB ultimateX 233x, and ran our usual suite of storage tests. First, with the card inserted into the SD slot of Dell’s Vostro V131, we saw read and write speeds of 16MB/sec and 14MB/sec. On a laptop with a better built-in card reader, Apple’s 13in MacBook Air, that rose to 30MB/sec and 23MB/sec.

Next we ran the same tests using the Kingston FCR-HS3. Connected via USB 2, it managed read and write speeds of 26MB/sec and 20MB/sec – hardly exciting rates. But on a laptop with USB 3, those speeds soared to 58MB/sec and 36MB/sec. The USB 3 interface allowed the 64GB SD card to perform only a whisker away from Kingston’s claimed figures of 60MB/sec reads and 35MB/sec writes.

For the many people using cheap, and hence relatively slow, SD cards for their cameras and camcorders, Kingston’s FCR-HS3 will make little difference to transfer speeds. But with cards becoming ever cheaper and faster, if you have a USB 3 port on your laptop, the £19 inc VAT price means there’s no reason to settle for anything less.

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