I think which is better may depend on the camera & the card. I have an Olympus C2100UZ & for that I use a Cameramate Card Reader. It's very simple to use. I'm very careful to never allow the computer to do anything but copy what's on the card, and once the copies have been made, I use the camera to format the card. This is because I've read that Smart Media cards can often be ruined if you let your a computer do anything but read what's on them.
On the other hand I have Canon A300, and for that a Canon driver program is installed on the computer that makes transferring pictures from camera to computer every bit as quick as with the Olympus pictures - and the Canon program is even more convenient because it asks whether I also want it to delete the pictures from my camera - I always say 'yes' - & that way I never need to remove the card from the camera. The card, by the way is the Compact Flash sort.