It most certainly does work with card readers on laptops.
On my desktop system, putting an sd card in the slot is not detected by vl-hot, unless I do "sginfo -l" which does a "media refresh". There is an icon for this in the xfce launchers (at least in the 5.9 deluxe edition).
However, I also find that this cannot be run as a normal user, so ended up having to add "sginfo" to /etc/sudoers, and change the launcher line to "sudo sginfo -l".
VL-HOT is a great application. If you happen to mind having to mount cd's with the mount applet, and (perhaps) cards with the "media refresh" launcher, maybe HAL is best.