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Royal SCR1 SIM card reader/writer review: Royal SCR1 SIM card reader/writer

The Royal SCR1 SIM card reader/writer is an ideal way to back up your SIM card contacts.

Kent German Former senior managing editor / features
Kent was a senior managing editor at CNET News. A veteran of CNET since 2003, he reviewed the first iPhone and worked in both the London and San Francisco offices. When not working, he's planning his next vacation, walking his dog or watching planes land at the airport (yes, really).
Kent German
4 min read
Royal SCR1 SIM card reader/writer

A SIM card is one of the best things about GSM cell phones. Because they store your phone number and your contacts, SIM cards make it easy to transfer both your identity and your phone book to a new handset. But there is a slight catch to this convenience: if you ever lose your SIM card, all saved names and numbers are lost for good. That's why it's best to treat your contacts like the most important files on your computer and back them up for safekeeping. The new SCR1 SIM card reader/writer from Royal Consumer Information Products can help you do just that.


Royal SCR1 SIM card reader/writer

The Good

The Royal SCR1 SIM card reader/writer has a simple, easy-to-use design and offers some surprise features.

The Bad

The Royal SCR1 SIM card reader/writer accommodates only one SIM card at a time. Also, it does not let you clear contacts directly from its memory.

The Bottom Line

The Royal SCR1 SIM card reader/writer is an ideal way to back up your SIM card contacts, though we wish it was a bit easier to use.

Though it's small enough to attach to a keychain, the SCR1 can be indispensable if you're a little too lost-prone. Once you transfer your contacts from your SIM card to the SCR1, it will hold them for safekeeping should ever need to retrieve them. True, you can use your computer to save your contacts, but the SCR1 is an equally good option. It works exactly as advertised, with a simple, user-friendly design plus a couple of extra features. And at just $19.99, it should be standard equipment for any GSM phone owner.

The black-and-silver SCR1 looks very much like a 1980s travel clock you'd get after renewing your subscription to Newsweek. At 2.6 inches by 0.9 inch by 0.4 inch, it's small enough to fit into a pocket; and at 1.28 ounces, it won't weigh you down. A monochrome LCD covers almost the entire front face of the device. Besides showing the time when you're in standby mode, it also serves as your interface for scrolling through the menus and activating the different functions. Three buttons line either side of the display. On the left is a menu control and a pair of scrolling buttons; an enter key and another pair of scrolling buttons sit on the right side. Though the menus are exceedingly simple, it can take a few tries to get to get the hang of the buttons because the same control can do a several things. We suggest reading the instructions first.

On the right side of the device is a short keychain and ring. The SCR1 isn't something we'd carry around all the time, but the option is there if you want it. The left side holds the SIM card slot, and the battery cover and a tiny reset hole are on the SCR1's back. It's important to note that the SCR1 doesn't have an off switch in the traditional sense; you can only make it sleep between certain times. Though that option saves juice and the battery is user-replaceable, we'd prefer a switch.

To back up your contacts, just insert your SIM card into the reader and select the "Backup" option from the menu. After the checking your card, it will then direct you to transfer your contacts. The actual onscreen prompt ("Clear") is a bit confusing at first, but it makes sense when you realize that whenever you transfer contacts they will overwrite the destination memory. In other words, if you transfer contacts to the SCR1 they will replace any information already saved there. The same goes for when you transfer data back to a SIM card, as whatever names are on the SIM will be replaced. As a result, the SCR1 works with only one SIM card at a time.

While we could get past the above complaints, it's ridiculous that there's no Clear or Delete command on the SCR1. In other words, you can't remove saved contacts on the unit itself. As far as we can see, the only way to clear the SCR1's memory is to put in a new SIM card with no saved contacts and then perform a transfer. Besides being a rather tedious way to accomplish something exceedingly simple, it also means you'll need to have a second SIM card sitting around. And how many people have one of those?

That warning aside, the transfer to the SCR1 takes a matter of seconds. Storage is limited to 250 contacts, but that's not an issue since SIM cards store only 250 names to begin with. Once the transfer is complete, you can remove the SIM card and put it back in your phone. All contacts are stored alphabetically on the SCR1, and you can scroll through the entire list. Multiple numbers for each person are indicated by the type of number ("M" for mobile, "H" for home, and "W" for work). It was a tad annoying that the screen can't display a full 10-digit number. Rest assured, the last number is saved but you must use the scroll buttons to see it. You can protect the contact list and the backup options with a password, and the SCR1 supports SIM card PINs as well.

As previously mentioned the SCR1 has a clock and shows the date. It also offers a stopwatch, a world clock, and a countdown timer. It comes with three very basic yet somewhat entertaining games: Slot Machine, Dice, and Lotto (gambling is an obvious theme). As for personalization options, you can change the change the screen's contrast, the font size, the display mode for the date and the time, and the language. The SCR1 supports German, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, English, Italian, and French, and it's important to note it can't display characters from non-Roman alphabets. The battery life can be viewed via a menu option.