Technology | Media | Telecommunications

Saturday, March 03, 2007

All SD Memory Cards are Not Created Equal

The CES event in Las Vegas featured many new and interesting products, so you may be surprised when I tell you that the introduction of a secure digital (SD) memory card actually caught my attention.

You see, I have been using a 128MB standard SD memory card for a long time. I originally used it to store video clips that I could view on my Dell pocket PC, which has an integrated SD card slot. Later I started to use the card with my pocket-sized Kodak digital camera to take short video clips.

The standard memory card has some limitations, such as my outgrowing the 128MB memory size for video clips, applications where I needed to shoot photos in quick succession, and the transfer speed between either the digital camera or pocket PC and my notebook computer.

Put simply, I was already primed to upgrade to a better memory card. I replied to the vendor who sent me the press release about their new 150x card and requested a sample to test. Weeks passed as the vendor's media relations folks apparently stalled for time, but no sample was available. So, I contacted their two primary competitors, and Lexar Media promptly delivered a 1GB card.

By definition, these high-speed memory cards are designed to perform faster than earlier version technology. A speed rating means that each card is guaranteed to be at least as fast as its stated rating. It also means that the devices can write to the card faster, and that card readers can perform downloads from the device more quickly than before.

The "Lexar Professional 133x" secure digital (SD) memory card is perfect for sustained, rapid-fire picture-taking and full-motion video. Granted, this card has a slightly slower sustained write speed, when compared to the 150x card. However, the Lexar card is available now, and it comes with a lifetime warranty and free technical support.

I'm covering the South by Southwest (SXSW) interactive and film conference next week. In addition to interviewing panelists and presenters for an upcoming column, I'll be shooting video clips of some of the technorati in attendance that I'll be using in future multimedia mash-ups.

Based upon the test applications that I've performed thus far, I would recommend Lexar products to anyone who wants to explore the real benefits of a high-speed and higher-quality memory card. Clearly, all SD cards aren't created equal, and these new and improved memory cards are now affordable to most mainstream consumers.