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Sandisk breaks 128GB barrier with new $199 MICROSD card

Silly amounts of storage on a fingernail-sized sliver

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Ten years ago SanDisk showed off its first microSD card with what was then an impressive 128MB storage. Now the company has unveiled a 128GB model, specially designed for use in Android smartphones.

"The new SanDisk Ultra microSDXC card again demonstrates how SanDisk continues to expand the possibilities of storage so that consumers can benefit from our latest technology advancements," said SanDisk director Susan Park.

"With 128GB of removable storage, consumers will enjoy the freedom to capture and save whatever they want on a smartphone or tablet, without worrying about running out of storage space."

The $199 card will be sold exclusively via Amazon and Best Buy. SanDisk said the new hardware has double the 5MB/s write speed of standard microSD cards, and this latest device is optimized for recording video from handhelds. The card can hold 16 hours of HD video on a single card and the read speed is about 30MB/s.

SanDisk said it has designed the card specifically for Android smartphones and tablets. That's not too surprising, given that Apple isn't keen on removable storage in its phones, but presumably the card will also work with other operating systems from Redmond and elsewhere.

As a further enticement to Android users SanDisk is updating its Memory Zone app for Android, including a new feature called OptiMem which automatically shifts some of the user's data onto the microSD card to free up space in the handset's own storage banks and lets the user know what has been moved.

"The technology used to design the 128GB Ultra microSDXC card is well in line with what mobile users expect, and demonstrates SanDisk's commitment to mobility," said Christopher Chute, research director of worldwide digital imaging at IDC.

"Being able to fit this much capacity into a microSD card smaller than a fingernail is a game changer, and expands the possibilities of what people can do with their mobile devices. The 128GB Ultra microSDXC card frees users from constant concerns around storage limitations."

While the tiny card will be welcome news for some, there appears to be a shrinking market for the technology. Both the Nexus 5 from Google and Motorola's X and G handsets eschew removable storage altogether, on the reasoning that people should be using the cloud for their storage, not removable hardware.

Thankfully for SanDisk, there are enough people out there that don’t want to be reliant of an internet connection to get their data, and manufacturers recognize that. But the longterm trend appears to be towards cloud as a storage medium and, for smartphones at least, SanDisk will have a tougher time of it. ®

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