Lexar is about to start shipping a new reader to complement its line of 300X Professional UDMA CompactFlash cards. First announced back in February, the reader features two slots: one UDMA-compatible CompactFlash slot and one SDHC-compatible SD card slot. The reader's slick design includes an integrated cover for the card slots. If you press buttons on the sides of the reader, the middle portion pops up and the slots become accessible. When you're done, just push the middle part down and the slots are covered, so you don't have to worry about dirt or dust getting inside the slots while you're toting the reader from one shoot to the next in your bag. A mini USB jack on the back lets you connect it to your computer with the included mini-to-full-size USB cable.
Lexar was kind enough to loan us a sample of the Professional UDMA Dual-Slot USB Reader, along with a 4GB 300X Professional UDMA CompactFlash card, to try out. When I hooked the card and reader up to a high-end Mac Pro desktop, I was able to get an average write speed (copying JPEG and various RAW image files from the computer to the card) of a little over 20 megabytes (MB) per second. On a not-very-high-end Windows PC I got an average write speed of 15MB per second. In both cases reading from the card and transferring images to the computer happened significantly faster; 35MB per second on the same Mac and 30MB per second on the same PC.
While those speeds might not seem impressive if you know that a 300X card comes with a claim of a top write speed of 45MB per second, if you've ever tested some of these cards, you'll know that the claimed speeds are always much faster than what you can expect in regular use. This reader/card combination's performance puts it among the fastest you can get right now. The Lexar Professional UDMA Dual-Slot USB reader is expected to hit stores around November 15 with a suggested retail price of about $45.