PCMCIA stands for Personal Computer Memory Card International Association. The cards are named after the association that oversees the standards for this device. The Association has recently re-named them PC cards, but many still use the term PCMCIA cards, or PCMCIA memory cards.
Despite the presence of the word "memory" in the acronym, the cards aren't similar to the type of memory cards used in digital cameras. There are several types of PC cards; each has the same dimensions, however they're getting progressively thicker. You can use a thinner card in a thicker slot, but not conversely. The most popular PCMCIA card types and their typical uses are:
1. Type I is 3.3 mm thick and used mostly for memory devices (flash, SRAM cards), making them truly PCMCIA memory cards.
2. Type II is 5.0 mm thick and commonly used for modems and wireless networking. This is the most common type of PC card.
3. Type III is 10.5 mm thick and can have internal parts that rotate, allowing it to be used for mass storage devices.
Buy PC cards online from PCMCIA suppliersPC cards are harder to find now that wireless networking capability is built in to most laptops. You can purchase a number of cards from PCMCIA suppliers for use in your PCMCIA slot. Add connectivity to S-video or composite video so you can watch TV, or Bluetooth to connect to your smartphone.
Purchase PCMCIA adapters to allow you to connect to a variety of devicesAdapters allow you to connect to a variety of connectors. A USB to PCMCIA adapter is probably the most common, but you can connect to firewire or even serial or parallel cables. You can also find adapters that permit you to read flash memory cards.
Replace or install PCMCIA card readers in your computerPCMCIA card readers can be installed in computers that don't have them. You can purchase one to replace a broken card, as well.
Download drivers for PCMCIA cards and card readersPCMCIA card readers or the cards themselves often require software drivers in order to work. You can download drivers online if you need them.
- If your laptop has a PCMCIA slot, consider looking for a card that functions in whatever may be lacking in your laptop--if you never have enough USB ports, buy one that is a USB adapter. If you're short on hard drive space, buy one that is an extra hard disk.