Ask Lifehacker: What Should I Use My ExpressCard Slot For?

Dear Lifehacker, I want to take advantage of my ExpressCard/34 slot on my laptop. I only have 2 USB ports and was thinking of getting a USB 3.0 Express Card adaptor. But are there any other cool uses for ExpressCard out there? (I know of the usual suspects, USB adaptor and wireless broadband.) Thanks, Dan

Dear Dan,

The relatively dull-sounding option of expanding your available USB ports is probably the most useful. Realistically, there are far more USB devices that ExpressCard ones, so that will give you the biggest range. While getting a USB 3.0 reader for backward compatibility might sound tempting, there aren't many 3.0 devices as yet and power access could be an issue.

I don't claim any special expertise here, though, as I've personally never owned a machine with an ExpressCard slot. So let's put it to Lifehacker's readers: what have you found handy to plug into an ExpressCard slot? Tell us in the comments.

Cheers Lifehacker


    I got an SD card reader for mine (cheap Deal Extreme one). Handy if your laptop doesn't already have one.

    I leave my iPod Nano 3rd gen in mine.
    It fits fine plus I can't lose it.
    I attempted to put the ipod cable in there like a dock but haven't got around to it yet.

    TV card. Good models include AM/FM (!!)...

    I rejuved an old dell that way for a mate -> ubuntu, inbuilt wifi (not always the case with older models!) + tv/radio card made for a cheap ($0) but effective multi-purpose computer.

    You could grab a wireless card compatible with network pentesting and use it for securing your home wireless connections.
    Alternatively, an upgrade to gigabit ethernet if the laptop in question doesn't already support it.

    if you're running integrated graphics, give this a shot:

    it's an external graphics card, the equipment sans-card itself is less than $100 and it can make any business notebook an absolute gaming monster.

    I second the TV card. I bought a Leadtek Winfast DTV2300Ex (or whatever it's called). Gives you Windows Media Center on analog and digital, FM radio (haven't tried) and a Windows Media compliant remote control.

    Am swapping that with a Sierra Aircard 880E from eBay to give NextG and GPS (haven't fully tested this one yet though, have been having trouble with its reception).

    If anyone's aware of a surround-sound (ie, optical) and/or MIDI sound card for expresscards slots I'd be interested too.


    Save up to buy a new laptop

    I got an 48GB SSD on an ExpressCard from these guys:

    In my case, I boot and run OSX from it for a much-increased speed boost over running from the HDD.

    I use the internal HDD for data and bootcamp. This way I keep the internal HDD encrypted using PGPDisk; but still can have OSX running with Undercover and a Guest Account as a "honeypot" for thieves to fall into (hopefully).

    One word of warning though, although its worked fine for me on a Late 2008 MBP, there are some other people with different versions of the MacBookPro that haven't been able to boot from it. Google is your friend here, there's a lot of discussion threads about it.

    I have an external harddrive connected to my laptop on esata through express card slot.

    I bought a Digitech esata expresscard for my Macbook pro and it's not recognised, even by the Bootcamp Win7

    it may as well be an icy pole stick for funtionality

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