This question is asked a lot during the purchase of a game camera, as many accessories exist to make the buyers life easier. But even if you have a wireless trail camera that lets you upload the photos, the answer is yes, you do need a reader for your game camera. In a situation where the wireless in the camera drops out or isn’t efficient, having direct access to the information on your card could make the difference between a successful season and a bad one.
There is also the need to view the photos and videos on a screen larger than the standard 2-2.5 inch screen that a lot of the cameras offer. With the average size of an android phone being 4.5 inches, and the average size of a tablet being 7 inches, these are bigger and better options for getting better detail into what your camera is taking a picture of. None of these options for sale are complicated in any way, and many offer plug and play installation. The question then becomes what is the best option for you as the consumer, since there are about 2-3 different types of readers available for consumption. Here is a small sampling of the memory card readers available that may be of benefit to buy with your game camera.
Best Memory Card Readers
1. Game Camera Viewer for Android Phones
From Boneview comes this fun way to view information from your game camera by using an adapter that plugs directly into an Android device. The times have changed where every other accessory on the market was for iPhone, and in this case Android users get a low priced device that is small enough to fit in your pocket. Supporting both SD cards and Micro SD cards, this little unit works by inserting the card into the card reader portion and then inserting the micro USB part into your Android phone.
Depending on what your default photo viewer or file manager is, you’ll instantly be able to pull it up and view, edit, delete and even share all of your photos. Although the free app called file manager is said to be required for advanced features, providers like Samsung and Motorola have since added stock functionality to their newer products and it isn’t required.
This is an exciting alternative to the bigger and bulkier viewers that are becoming popular in the market, as this one is a fraction of the size and doesn’t run on batteries. Compatibility issues may be a concern if you have an older Android phone, but for most new phones 2014 and later this will not be an issue. The company keeps a pretty updated list of incompatible phones, so if you see your device on that list it would be a good idea to look elsewhere on this list for an alternative. For everyone else this is a solid device that is worth a buy.
2. Trail Pad Handheld Card Viewer
Wild Game Innovations VU50
Second on the list is this mini 4.3 inch viewer from Wild Game Innovations that operates on only 4 AAA batteries. The design is thin enough to be able to fit in a vest pocket, but robust enough to where you can see the details of your photos. It handles regular size SD cards and also has support for viewing videos directly on the device.
At its core, it is an SD card manager with a screen, so you are stripped from any compatibility issues, firmware updates, wireless needs or any extra buttons you don’t need. It is a low priced solution that even has a mini USB socket and a headphone jack. Picture options while viewing include a simple zoomer, and the entire viewer is dressed up in Realtree Xtra Camouflage.
The difference between this product and the last is that it is meant specifically for trail camera use, meaning there really wouldn’t be a use for this outside of viewing what’s on your game camera. In comparison to the first product, you could use it for other applications as long as the end product had a mini USB port. But for viewing videos directly onsite using a roomy screen this is one of the better options, and should rank high on a couple of lists. Consumers should give this one a try and see if it fits their needs or not.
3. Stealth Cam SD Card Reader and Viewer
Stealth Cam SD Card Reader
Staying in the low price category is a product similar to the last, but with a bit more care added to the overall package. It uses a similar 4.3 inch LCD screen and supports SD cards up to 16 GB. Where the two differ besides the supported capacities would be the actual materials and setups.
It uses an ABS plastic housing with rubberized grip that is both easy to hold onto, and designed well enough to be used for everyday activities other than viewing your game hunting photos. The buttons are conveniently located to the right side of the unit, and are so simple in nature that they don’t need explaining. Consumers can plug in the SD card and start using it right away without any type of manual.
Photo and video operations include scrolling, zooming, deleting and even playing MP3 audio and listening to it through the speakers or a headphone jack. Additional features are a wrist lanyard for carrying and an automatic shutoff to save the power of the four AAA batteries. Of these types of viewers, this is the best on the list if you have an SD card that is not larger than 16 GB. For buyers with 32 GB cards you may want to look elsewhere on the list.
4. Whitetail’R PhoneREAD’R Trail Camera Viewer
This low price memory card reader takes the best features of the first device on the list and expands it, adding better compatibility and some neat features. Supporting android phones with OS 4.0 or higher, this small device lets you instantly have access to your photos and videos on your game trail camera’s Sd card, and all without downloading an extra app.
You can delete, save, share and even edit images directly from your phone. To ensure that the device lasts a long time without common errors associated with readers, it has a shield that closes off the port when not in use. This protects it from weather, debris and general usage errors.
As an added bonus if you’re not sure if your phone is compatible, you a can download a free app called USB OTG Checker and if all checks out, you can use the device without a problem on your android phone. As a great alternative to bigger viewers, and not requiring any batteries, this is a pretty cool device to have that works for more than just game trail cameras. This is one of the best on the list, and highly recommended for maintaining your photos and videos across all media.
5. Wild Game Innovations VU100 Trail Pad
Wild Game Innovations VU100
As a mid-priced item and the best device on the list, this is also the most technically capable since it is a full functioning android tablet. The display size is a full 7 inches with a high resolution touch screen that allows you to surf the internet and view websites, play games, and basically do anything you would do if you were sitting at your computer.
There is 8 GB of internal memory, so once you insert your game cameras SD card to view videos and photos you can also copy it directly to the device, leaving the camera in place and taking the media information with you. Even with the heavy duty real tree extra housing, this is a light and portable solution that won’t get in the way. It’s built around an upgradeable android 4.1 OS and has a dual core processor meaning it can process videos and photos faster than any device on this list.
It is both water resistant and weather durable so it isn’t just a table with pretty housing, it is actually built for the outdoors. This is hands down the most powerful device on the list, but for some it may be overkill. Since it has a lot of desirable features like built in storage and the largest screen, it will attract a lot of interested customers. Definitely worth a look if you want to be ahead of the current technology being offered.
Viewer vs. Adapters vs. Tablets
There are 3 main types of ways to view what’s on an SD card plugged into your camera, and those ways are through adapters, tablets, and viewers. There is a pretty large pro and con list for each, and in this condensed version there are some highlights that potential buyers should pay close attention to. In some cases there will be options that are favorable that overlap with the cons. Since all of these devices minus the tablets are low cost, it is not unheard of for people to buy both versions and alternate between the two, using what suits their current mood.
Viewers are an interesting bunch because they are basically a stripped down version of a tablet, and act exactly as the name suggests-to view content on a card. They are simplistic devices that have no more than 5-6 hard buttons that allow you to view, zoom, pan, and delete photos. These are the easiest devices to use out of the three, and they even come in different types of housing.
Consumers can opt for a housing that is camo, one that blends in with the background, or even just a heavy duty one that can take a drop or two. They are pretty much all the same in one way or another, and the only way they really differ is in how they offer their functions. While some viewers have rubberized buttons on the right, some viewers may have touch sensitive buttons at the top. Battery life is pretty good, and they usually run on 4 AAA batteries. If deciding on a viewer you can just as easily go by price, as the differences are minimal.
The cheapest out of the 3 are adapters with mini USB plugs. They use your existing Android phone to give you direct access to the media on the SD card. This can also be the most complicated to setup, but is rewarding for the more technical user. Most of these devices have a free app you can download to check for compatibility, as different phones and different versions of the Android OS will cause compatibility issues.
Even when it is working, it requires you to have a little know how with your phones file manager or photo viewers to be able to access the media on the device. While some may instantly pop up with a notification one you plug the adapter in, others may not alert you at all, leaving you to hunt in a folder hierarchy in your file manager. It can either be really easy with these, or incredibly frustrating. The one thing a lot of the makers of these devices won’t tell you is that you can actually plug it into any android capable device, including tablets. This is a bit of a game changer and allows you to take something like a Galaxy 10.1 inch tablet and view all of your media from the large screen of the device.
The most expensive option is the built for game hunting tablets, which is the most powerful from the list but also the most expensive. This is for the power user, because once they really configure it they are basically the master of their own domain. This technical option is a good one, but only if you are an experienced user.
With the flood of memory card accessories on the market it is easy to get bogged down in the details, but the most important detail is that you need one of these devices if you plan on purchasing a game camera. Even if you feel you don’t need it now, purchasing one of the lower priced options will save you a headache later on when you come to the realization that you really do need it. Pick from any of the three options and enjoy your new purchases.