With the dropping prices on digital cameras and digital media in the past few years there is really a need for a quick reliable transfer method for your pictures to your personal computer.
Using the USB cable directly to your camera works to transfer pictures, but it's a waste of your battery and is often quite slow. Also some cameras don't seem to connect properly without specialized software from their manufacturer.
My favorite work around for this problem is purchasing a 7-in-1 card reader, there are all sorts of digital media card readers, some of them support even more than seven different kinds of media. These card readers generally run you about $15 to $50 USD and will save you loads of time and money (on batteries).
These card readers hookup to your computer via the USB port and don't require an additional software. Normally when you plug them in a series of drives will appear in your drives list in My Computer. As you put the different types of digital media in to the card reader the device will pop-up on the screen and you can transfer your files, delete the files, and basically treat the new media as a small hard drive.
These devices are great to have around the house, or in your camera case, they are generally very small, about the width and length of a credit card and about 1-2 inches in height.
Have you ever had a big party and wanted to compile all the pictures from every persons camera but weren't able to because of the wide variety of media? If you had a card reader you wouldn't have this problem, and again as I've mentioned several times, you are taking the pictures off the media directly, as opposed to using the USB link cable, and wasting the batteries of the cameras!
Next time you are at the computer store or shopping online, take a look at the different types of media transfer devices and card readers out there. Card readers are a great tool, will save you time, and money and the occasional head ache!