Photography, Reviews, Video

Review: ProGrade Digital MicroSDXC Dual-slot Reader

Although you can, of course, offload your footage and photos using a €5 SD-card reader, it pays off to spend that little bit more. A good media reader won’t fail in the middle of an offload, is fast, robust, readily available and unobtrusive. ProGrade’s memory card readers are all of that and more.

ProGrade Digital isn’t as well-known yet with photographers and video creators as Lexar or SanDisk are. Yet, the company was founded by industry veterans in the removable storage and digital photography industries – each, ironically, having spent time at leading companies such as you’ve guessed it, Lexar and SanDisk. These companies have become technology giants, having been acquired by even bigger companies, with a slower innovation pace as a result.

No wonder then that ProGrade Digital’s production team seeks to develop memory cards and readers that appeal to more demanding professional and semi-professional users who can appreciate innovation and quality. The MicroSDXC dual card reader reflects this.

The ProGrade Digital readers are portable and compact at about 5cm width and length and 1.5cm height. They’re made of tough plastic with a magnetised bottom that connects the reader to a laptop when paired with the included stick-on metal mounting plate. They’re small. The MicroSDXC dual-slot reader is more squarish than the comparable Lexar Workflow reader I still have and use, but it’s lower, taking up less space in a photography bag or case.

The test unit came with two 40cm long USB-C cables (one of which was a USB-C to USB-A model). A LED indicator above each of the media slots allows you to see whether the device is active.

With the MicroSDXC dual-slot reader, you can theoretically achieve transfer rates of up to 1.25GB/s. In my trials I managed to achieve throughputs of 175MB/s with Hedge, simultaneously transferring 18.5GB of data from UHS-II cards in both slots via a USB 3.0 port to an OWC Envoy Pro EX(EV) connected through one of the two Thunderbolt 3 ports on my 2017 iMac 27in. Connecting through the iMac’s Thunderbolt 3 / USB 3.1 port cranked up the volume to a respectable 360MB/s per slot. On newer iMacs, I’m sure you can come closer to the theoretical maximum, but not on my 2017 model.

The magnetic bottom plate is a splendid idea but does require you to be careful with placing this reader on or very close by exposed hard disks and SSDs (e.g. mounted in a dock station). I’m not sure if you risk damaging external disks inside aluminium enclosures as the magnet seems quite powerful to me.

Wrapping up, I’d say the ProGrade Digital MicroSDXC Dual-slot Reader is a high quality product with a fast offload speed and a design that makes life easier – and isn’t that what technology is supposed to do? The reader is available at the ProGrade Digital website and on bhphotovideo.com. It costs $79.99.