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How to Choose an SD Card Reader or Adapter That’s Right for You

An SD card adapter allows you to access the contents of your memory card, such as videos and pictures captured with your smartphone or digital camera, on a host device that does not have a card reader. These affordable adapters consist of a card reader on one end and a USB plug on the other. eBay is a convenient source for all kinds of new or pre-owned adapters.

Which devices are compatible with these adapters?

The adapter should work with any device that has a USB port. That includes desktops, laptops, tablets, video game systems, and printers.

What are the different types of adapters?

SD card adapters can be generally classified in the following ways:

  • Card readers and hubs - This device resembles a hub or box and connects to another device through a long cable. A hub typically accepts multiple types of card formats, such as CompactFlash or microSD. If it does accept multiple formats, then it will say something like x-in-1, with x representing the number of cards it accepts.
  • USB thumb stick - This device resembles a USB drive. A USB plug is built directly into the device without a cable, so it sticks out of the USB port. Most thumb sticks only accept one type of card format, but some models may have multiple types of card slots.
How do you choose the right adapter?

Both the SD format and the USB format can vary in multiple ways. Here is what you need to know about them:

  • SD card form factor - The SD format comes in both standard and micro sizes. If the adapter accepts both form factors, then it will need to have separate card slots.
  • Type of SD card - The three most common types of SD cards are SDSC, SDHC, and SDXC. They stand for standard capacity, high capacity, and extended capacity, respectively. Due to a slight difference in the file system, these formats are not generally backwards compatible with each other. SDXC is compatible with the other two types, but SDSC is not compatible with SDHC and SDXC. However, most readers released after 2010 should be SDXC compliant.
  • Type of USB - Type A USB is the format found most often in desktop and laptop computers. Type C and microUSB are found in smartphones, tablets, and other portable devices. These types are not interchangeable because they require different ports. However, some adapters do have multiple types of USB plugs built into a single device.
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