No ExpressCard slot, no problem


I must admit that I was a little taken back by Apple’s decision to eliminate the ExpressCard slot, in favor of an SD slot, from their New MacBook Pro 15" models. However, I can’t argue the reasoning. If most buyers aren’t using this slot then it probably does make since use the space for something more usable like an SD slot although personally I would have preferred a Compact Flash slot on the Pros and an SD slot on the regular MacBooks, but oh well. Then I got to thinking about the ExpressCard devices that I currently use and realized that I only have 3 of them. I have a Verizon V740 EVDO 3G Modem, a Synchrotech ExpressCard Compact Flash Reader and a Belkin Multi-Card Reader (reads SD, Memory Stick and a bunch of other formats). Although I don’t have any plans of getting a new MacBook Pro anytime soon, I like to be prepared by transitioning my peripherals to the new standards ahead of time so that when I do upgrade, it will be a lot less painful. Well the good news is that I can live without the Compact Flash reader because I already have a Firewire 800 Compact Flash Reader by Synchrotech that I use most of the time anyway. I could also live without the Multi-media Reader because the New MacBook Pros will have an SD slot built-in and I so rarely use the other formats supported by the reader that I could have a USB reader if need be. However, there is the issue with my Verizon ExpressCard Modem…


No problem, Synchrotech has an answer


Even before Apple made the switch from ExpressCard to SD on the 15" MacBook Pros and introducing SD on the MacBooks, Synchrotech already made an ExpressCard to USB adapter. Now keep in mind that the ExpressCard standard is MUCH faster than USB, so this adapter is ONLY designed to work with ExpressCard devices that operate at USB speeds anyway, such as the ExpressCard modems, card readers, etc. So out of my 3 devices this adapter would easily work with 2 of them. It works with the Verizon card and the 12-in-1 Card Reader because both of those devices work at USB speeds. However, it will NOT work with my Compact Flash reader, which is designed to work at the full ExpressCard speeds. There was no software to install. I just plugged in my Verizon V740 card into the adapter and then the whole thing into my MacBook Pro and the modem lit up and was usable right away. I also tried the Belkin Media Reader and it worked too.


The Bottom Line

Apple’s move away from the ExpressCard slot just goes to show the "majority" of consumers are either using USB or Firewire for their peripheral needs. I’m also sure that I could trade in/upgrade my Verizon card to a USB model, or simply stick it in my CradlePoint 3G router when I’m stationary and not even need the adapter. However, since I’m not ready to spend the cash (nor is my employer) on a Verizon card upgrade right now and I still have an ExpressCard slot in my current MacBook Pro, this adapter just gives me one more way of connecting my gear. It also allows me to use the Verizon card on computers that didn’t have an ExpressCard slot in the first place such as the MacBook, desktop computers, etc. The Syncrotech MicroU2E-MV USB 2.0 to USB Mode ExpressCard 34/54 Multi-Voltage Host Adapter goes for $48.

12 Replies to “No ExpressCard slot, no problem”

  1. Leaving the ExpressCard slot out presents a nightmare option to people like me who need to access eSATA devices. I’m honestly looking at a situation where I’m contemplating switching back from FCP to Avid, and moving to a PC laptop, because there’s simply not a laptop that Apple make now that I can use. The 17″ is just too big….

      1. USB 3? Doesn’t help the current Mac Book. I’m with trace — I depend on the ExpressCard slot for high end use. They have a lot of nerve calling this a “Pro” machine.

  2. I’m torn… I really could use/want the new 13″ MBP.. with fw800… but the old 15″ with express slot would be ideal for editing video on road.. using the Sony EX1… no need to plug in camera or have card reader…

    the SD slot.. not working at all for me.. have the FW400 reader and will get an 800 version..


  3. um… USB 3 is *NOT* faster than the PCIe based ExpressCard format and is much much SLOWER than the new ExpressCard standard due out soon…

    USB blows and sucks, has always blown and sucked, and will continue to blow and suck..

    the SD card slot is fracking *USLESS* and whatever braintrust came up with the idea to replace the expresscard slot w/ a SD slot needs to be fired.. from a cannon! (yes, even if it was Ive himself)

  4. Yes, as a professional music production user, the loss of the ExpressCard slot is a *huge* setback. In addition to eSATA data access of large sample libraries, the ExpressCard slot is also used by some third-party plug-in makers for DSP. Apple made a bad decision here.

  5. Hey Terry a little off topic, but i really wanted to hear you take on SSD drives in the Macbook Pro’s How do they stack up against 7200 HD with photoshop & Lightroom. I know that they are more $ & the load times of Apps & start ups & shut down are off the chart, but i haven’t seen any 1 review them with some big file moving in Lightroom & Photoshop & copying a 8gig UDMA card full of Raw files.

    1. Hi Jared, I haven’t done any testing in this area yet. We have a MacBook Air here with an 128GB SSD drive in it and I don’t notice any major speed increase. However, again I haven’t done any side-by-side comparisons either.

  6. To any of the “pro” users who like to do *professional* audio or video with a MBP, the lack of an ExpressCard slot is a profound disappointment.

    Panasonic’s P2 memory card system for video are sized to the PC Card format. Us video types can get away with a PC Card to ExpressCard adaptor, but it’s a PITA. We will have no choice but to purchase the magic boxes from Panasonic which work with FW800, but those solutions cost a lot more.

    Perhaps the idea is to separate the riff-raff from the pros?

  7. I would just like to second all who say that Apple taking away the slot on their 15 and 13 inch MBPs is a huge disappointment, because it really is. Come on, Apple, really? This is just another way to screw serious Pro users into buying their most expensive computers. Just another reason I refuse to buy into the crap apple tries to sell.

  8. This is the ‘dark’ side of apple, slowly squeezing out the pro now. They could at the least make their roadmap for hardware a bit more public so we don’t make VERY expensive purchases that turn out to be bad investments.

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