Lexar is now beginning to ship the Pro CompactFlash card readers they first announced in September of 2004. The USB 2.0 version is emerging on store shelves now, says John Omvik, Lexar's Director of Professional Product Marketing, as is the companion 4-port USB 2.0 hub. The FireWire version of the reader is expected to ship from Lexar in late October 2005.
The USB 2.0 version will be one of only a small handful of readers on the market that fully support the CompactFlash v3.0 specification for especially fast card-to-computer transfers with CF v3.0-savvy cards like SanDisk's Extreme III. Both the USB 2.0 and FireWire versions are designed to be stackable; both also incorporate support for Lexar's LockTight and Active Memory technologies (Lexar has yet to ship Active Memory cards).
The FireWire version can be daisy-chained together for simultaneous transfers from multiple cards via a single FireWire port on the computer; the USB 2.0 version can be connected to Lexar's (or any) powered USB 2.0 hub, though daisy-chaining isn't possible. Cables are removable; the ones included with the readers feature gold-plated connectors and are an ultra-thin type.
The production USB 2.0 Pro CompactFlash readers we've received appear to be missing one anticipated feature: a 3-stage card status light that would indicate when the card was (1) mounted and transferring data, (2) mounted but idle and (3) unmounted. As shipped to us, the reader's light does not go out when the card has been unmounted from a G5 Mac, which would have been unique to Lexar's new USB 2.0 readers if the feature had been implemented as expected. We don't have any production FireWire Pro CompactFlash readers in-house yet to see if their status light works the same way.
The minimum advertised price (MAP) for each reader is US$79.99 in the U.S. The MAP for the hub is US$69.99 in the U.S.
Lexar Pro CompactFlash card reader (Photo courtesy Lexar)