Alexander: Tablet PCs with no USB ports - really?

  • Article by: STEVE ALEXANDER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: October 18, 2011 - 5:37 PM

QThe generally efficient iPad has for many users a serious deficiency: There is no easy way to print important content. I try to overcome this by forwarding the material to a computer with printing capabilities, which is cumbersome, to say the least. Are there any devices or workarounds available to fix this problem?

LAWRENCE FISHMAN, MIAMI

AThe lack of USB ports on many tablet computers is a major flaw. Why spend several hundred dollars for a PC and still not be able to easily connect it to a printer, flash drive or card reader?

The key phase is "easily connect." You can buy separate USB adapters that allow you to connect some tablet computers to external devices, such as printers. There are external USB adapters for the iPad (tinyurl.com/3hqsrbv), Samsung Galaxy Tab (tinyurl.com/3pb9wfg) and Motorola Xoom (has a micro USB port, but for an adapter for standard USB see tinyurl.com/3pygx3v.)

A few tablets, such as the Lenovo ThinkPad, include a standard USB port.

I suspect some tablet makers are keeping it hard to connect to local storage devices in order to sell online storage capacity that's "in the cloud." There's iCloud for Apple, and Box.net for Motorola.

QThe SD card reader in my eMachines T3116 PC works with 2-gigabyte memory cards, but won't read a SanDisk 4-gigabyte card. I get the message "G:\ is not accessible. The request could not be performed because of I/O device error."

I downloaded a new software driver for the card reader, but that didn't fix the problem. I've read that the PC can read the 4-gigabyte card if I leave it in my camera and connect the camera to the PC with a USB cable. What should I do?

CHARLES STEIGERWALD,

APPLE VALLEY

AThe card reader in your PC is too old to read a 4 gigabyte flash memory card, which uses the SDHC (Secure Digital High Capacity) storage format. It was able to read your 2-gigabyte memory card because that card used the older SD (Secure Digital) format. (The specifications for your PC's card reader can be found at tinyurl.com/5v6t3ne.)

Why the switch? The SD format could only handle capacities up to 2 gigabytes. To increase card capacity, it was necessary to change formats, and, in the process, make your PC's card reader obsolete.

There are two ways to read the 4-gigabyte card. Connect your camera to your PC via USB cord, which allows your camera to read the card for the computer. Or you can buy a $7 to $15 SDHC external card reader that can plug into one of your PC's USB ports (see tinyurl.com/3qoarsp.)

E-mail tech questions to steve.j.alexander@ gmail.com, or write to Tech Q&A, 425 Portland Av., Minneapolis, MN 55488. Include name, city and telephone number.

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