Lexar has offered stackable card readers in the past, but the company’s latest product, the Lexar Professional Workflow Solution (yeah, the name is a little long-winded) takes the concept of simultaneous media card downloads to the next level.
The LPWS is a 4-bay hub that accommodates individual card readers for CompactFlash UDMA-7, SDHC/SDXC UHS-1 and XQD media. The readers are removable, so you can mix and match them to whatever type(s) of cards you use. And, if you’re working in the field or traveling, you can simply remove the card reader you need and take it with you.
The hub—and the readers—use USB 3.0 and, although we haven’t tested the device yet, one Lexar representative said it took about 4 minutes to download 50GB of data. Of course, that will vary depending on the card speed, operating system and hardware specifications.
Also keep in mind that not all software programs support concurrent downloads. Adobe Photoshop Lightroom does not, but Photo Mechanic does, for example. The hub and readers are backwards compatible with USB 2.0 and is Mac (OS® 10.6+) and Windows (7 and 8) compatible. And, at 3.3 x 4.3 x 6 inches, the hub doesn’t take up much room in a camera bag or on a desk.
I wish the hub had been available earlier this month during New York Fashion Week. After a long day crowded into the photographer’s “pit,” offloading images from ten CF cards is the last thing I wanted to do at night. The LPWS would have saved me a lot of time and maybe, just maybe, I could have grabbed a couple of extra hours of sleep before the next full day of shooting.
But even if you’re not sleep-deprived, anything that saves time is a plus, and it seems that this device has the potential to speed up most photographers’ workflows.
The hub costs $80 and comes with a USB 3.0 cable and power supply. CompactFlash and SD card readers cost $30; an XQD reader is more expensive at $45. All readers come with a USB 3.0 cable and a silicone hood that can be placed over the slot to prevent dust and debris from entering.