Feeds

Buy Smarter: what you need to know about... Memory Cards

File stores for the disconnected

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

Buyer's Guide Until the day when broadband is much faster, all devices have wireless internet access and sync'n'store services such as Dropbox or Google Drive are ubiquitous, memory cards will remain the most convenient general-purpose, pocketable storage.

They help everyone to move documents, photos, music and videos around safely and simply. But which to choose?

Memory cards come in half a dozen different shapes and many more capacities and speeds. They are the de facto portable storage standard, but selecting the best match to the gear that uses them is not as simple as it might seem.

It is not just a question of buying a Memory Stick for a Memory Stick socket, or a Secure Digital (SD) card for an SD slot. There are ranges of different capacities and different speeds. You don’t need the same speed for saving audio in a media player as you do for saving video in a camera.

Watch Video

Card types

Some memory card types have fared much better than others over the years. SmartMedia has completely died away and xD-Picture Card (xD), only used by Fujifilm and Olympus, is supported by very few new cameras.

CompactFlash mainly survives because high-end digital SLR cameras from the likes of Canon and Nikon still use them.

MultiMediaCards, which have the same physical dimensions as SD, have been subsumed and offer no real advantage over SD.

SD and Sony's Memory Stick between them, in their various guises, are by far the most popular types of card. SD is particularly so since it is an open standard backed by dozens of companies, including Samsung and a host of others.

More recently, the high-capacity SDHC and extended capacity SDXC cards have enabled storage up to 32GB and 2TB, respectively, although the 1TB and 2TB cards are not yet readily available.

The SD card has spawned Mini SD – now a dying breed – and Micro SD variants, mainly used in smaller devices such as smartphones and media players. Memory Stick is available in Duo, Pro Duo and Pro-HG Duo, as well as its basic form.

All cards are available in different capacities and some also in different speed grades; the choice is, of course, dictated by the device you are using. Few bits of kit can take more than one type of card, with the exception of multi-card readers in PCs and printers.

If your computer lacks a certain kind of memory card slot, USB-connectable adapters are commonplace.

Capacities

As memory technology has advanced, card capacities have grown from kilobytes (KB) through megabytes (MB) to gigabytes (GB). Specifications are already in place for terabyte cards.

Typical capacities today range from 1GB up to 32GB, with 64GB, 128GB and 256GB available for specialist uses.

The best advice is generally to go for the highest capacity you can afford, but there’s a proviso. If you have the cash for, say, a card that can store four hours of video or for two that can store two hours each, the two-hour ones might give you more flexibility.

You might find it useful to categorise your videos and keep one card for each category. It could help with the data housekeeping, and also prevent you losing all your data if a camera goes missing.

Intelligent flash storage arrays

Next page: Buying options

More from The Register

next story
Xperia Z3: Crikey, Sony – ANOTHER flagship phondleslab?
The Fourth Amendment... and it IS better
Don't wait for that big iPad, order a NEXUS 9 instead, industry little bird says
Google said to debut next big slab, Android L ahead of Apple event
Microsoft to enter the STRUGGLE of the HUMAN WRIST
It's not just a thumb war, it's total digit war
Back to the ... drawing board: 'Hoverboard' will disappoint Marty McFly wannabes
Buzzing board (and some future apps) leave a lot to be desired
Ex-US Navy fighter pilot MIT prof: Drones beat humans - I should know
'Missy' Cummings on UAVs, smartcars and dying from boredom
A drone of one's own: Reg buyers' guide for UAV fanciers
Hardware: Check. Software: Huh? Licence: Licence...?
The Apple launch AS IT HAPPENED: Totally SERIOUS coverage, not for haters
Fandroids, Windows Phone fringe-oids – you wouldn't understand
Apple SILENCES Bose, YANKS headphones from stores
The, er, Beats go on after noise-cancelling spat
prev story

Whitepapers

Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.