CF, SD and MicroSD card memory might be an integral part of your camera system, but they’re so often overlooked. Recently with the steady stream of new cameras offering bigger resolutions and faster frame rates I’ve suddenly found myself forced to consider the quality on the storage I’m using, at which point the MobileLite Duo 3C arrived.
This ultra compact card reader is designed for the photographer on the go, and unlike the more usual multi-card readers only offers a single slot for a MicroSD card.
This does limit the user base that this reader will appeal too, but then these days I know enough photographers who use microSD cards over standard SD due to the size.
The compact form of microSD over SD seems to make little difference in use when it comes to storage capacity of speed, with the latest cards offering the U3 standard of minimum write speed.
As long as you’re using microSD cards then the MobileLite Duo 3C should appeal, and as the name suggests it’s all about being on the move.
Natively microSD cards are commonly found in almost every action camera including the new GoPro Hero 6 Black, Yi 4K+ and Garmin Virb Ultra 30. microSD are also the common choice for Android mobile phones.
Build and handling
Essentially the MobileLite Duo 3C is a microSD card reader with two ends that offer a USB Type-A and USB Type-C and a small slot for a single microSD card.
The main construction is metal with a blue plastic cap that helps to protect the USB Type-C connector. The Type-A has for whatever reason been left exposed to the elements possibly showing that it’s a standard that is on the way out.
The small cap and the body of the card reader both feature a small loop which meets perfectly when the cap is in place. This loop is ideal for attaching a cord so that it can then be strung onto a key ring if you so wish.
The overall size is incredibly compact at just 43mm x 18mm x 11mm and weighing in at 11g with or without the MicroSD card loaded. Yes MicroSD cards really are that light.
According to the Kingston website this card reader will work in temperatures from 0 through to 60º, which is about 30º more than me. It can also be stored and then expected to work at temperatures between -20 and 70º which is impressive.
When it comes to compatibility the reader is designed to work with MicroSD/MicroSDHC UHS-I/MicroSDXC UHS-I. The reader was supplied with a microSDHC/SDXC UHS-I U3 90R/80W 32GB which I’d been using in the GoPro Hero 5 Black and transfer speeds seemed impressive.
Being designed to be mobile means that it really does have to be resilient to the odd knock. I’ve been using the reader for a good month and have had it attached to a set of keys, stuck in my pocket and at the bottom of a bag and it continues to work perfectly.
I tested the reader on a few operating systems to see if there was any difference in performance with a Windows 10 machine showing the fastest read and write times and an old 2011 MacBook Pro, that is showing it’s age, still averaging a good 25mb/s write and 35mb/s read.
On the Windows and Linux machines the values were considerably higher but altered depending on what card was used. The card reader is also compatible with Chrome systems.
The card reader is also a tail of two connectors, USB Type-A and Type-C. In this test I mainly tested the reader using the USB Type-A connector as at present they are still far more common that machines fitted with the Type-C connector.
Using a 2016 MacPro the results of the USB Type-C transfer were as good as with any other highend card reader.
I also have to say the slim design without cable is extremely neat.
Kingston MobileLite Duo 3C review Verdict
There isn’t a great deal to say about card readers, do they work? Do they recognise the cards you’re feeding them? And do they transfer data at a decent rate?
For all the above the Kingston MobileLite Duo 3C performs outstandingly, but with this small card reader it’s also has the benefit of the compact size and dual connection.
One feature that I had hoped to see was that I would be able to charge the GoPro Hero 5 Black or Yi 4K + using the USB Type-A to Type-C connector, unfortunately power didn’t seem to flow. It is after all a card reader not an adapter.
Overall I was impressed with the rugged build which felt like it would last a good few years, and it’s good to know that it comes as standard with a two year warranty.
I would always recommend a dedicated card reader whatever type of photography or camera you use. For action camera and mobile phone photographers the Kingston MobileLite 3C is a perfect compact solution.