This is a first - a budget multi-format memory card reader that fits into the increasingly popular ExpressCard slot now found on many laptop computers. The tiny 16g ExpressCard 34 device comes from Greenhouse Japan and will be available there from the end of this month.

The ¥2,880 (£12) outlay will net shoppers the GH-EX25AD card and the ability to read a variety of memory cards at speeds far faster than possible using the PCMCIA/PC card standard that ExpressCards are gradually replacing. SD/SDHC, MMC, xD and all flavours of Memory Stick fit the bill nicely.

The transfer speed tops out at 480 Mbit/s, which is ten times the rate of the older format. Although it might not be a big deal when handling documents and photos, the massive amounts of, for example, video data filling SDHC cards these days make such speedy card readers a wise investment.