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Double standard or review of joint SD-USB memory card

The competition of various flash-card standards several years ago resulted in practically two survived standards Compact Flash and Secure Digital (and SD compatible standard Multi Media Card). Such cards as xD and Memory Stick got very poorly spread and mainly in the products of those companies that created the standards. In fact we though the memory standard struggle was finishing for some time, but the tendency to integrate memory card slots into mobile phones leaded to various standards of tiny flash cards; however, we are not speaking about them today. Such standards as CF and SD are widely spread in PDAs (usually a PDA has either one SD slot or both SD and CF), communicators, digital cameras.

Now there is no any problem transmitting information from memory cards of digital cameras. Just connect a USB cable and write the info to a PC (the camera acts as a usual card reader then). However due to the hardware and software specificity transmitting from PC to PDA and vice versa is rather slow. And that's why PDA owners have to buy an extra card-reader. It helps writing music and other files much faster. It costs little (an optimal solution will cost about 15-20 USD maximum), but that means extra wires and space, which is sometimes inconvenient.

The solution is simple, that is a joint SD-USB card. No excess wires or devices for reading memory cards. And you can connect to any computer almost any time and take a necessary data at high speed.

We got a 256 MB DeluXe SD Plus (the manufacturer is a Taiwanese TwinMOS, and inside the company line the product is called TwinMOS SD Combo Card). At first sight that is a usual green SD card.

The upper part of the card (juts plastic) may be removed baring USB contacts; it is some kind of a cap. Now it may be connected to a PC or a notebook via USB, no problems. The computer will identify the card as a USB 2.0 drive with no drivers necessary. A light indicator is seen through the plastic, it blinks when using the card. The card heats up while working in a USB mode, in ten minutes it gets very hot, however no consequences are observed.

When closed the cap holds well and doesn't fall down accidentally. A rope may be passed through a corresponding hole, and then the card is carried as a USB trinket, usual USB-drives are often carried this way. The back of the card slightly projects, that's why you'll have to put some effort when plugging the card into some devices, and sometimes the card is not identified. For instance, the Palm Tungsten E2 and Palm LifeDrive don't recognize the card, but take the cap off, and they start working. The Pocket PC card reader (tested on FS Pocket LOOX 720 and BenQ P50) caused no troubles.

We used a test package Aida32 to measure operating speed of the card. And the 1 Gb SD Transcend 45x card was used, PDA Palm Tungsten T5 connected as a USB drive. The operating speed of the card on HP iPaq hw6515 was measured approximately by copying a 29 MB file via a synchronization program ActiveSync.

The tests show how faster information is written (15 times faster than on Palm Tungsten T5 as a USB drive, 25 times faster than on Pocket PC via a synchronization program). And that is to remind once more without any extra wires and reading devices.

Such solutions will appear on the market mass in the nearest future. The idea is plain and demanded. And here is one more SD-USB card that is SanDisk with another construction for this time. It has just been launched. Now SD-USB cards are a bit expensive, but SD cards of the same capacity cost 30-40 USD more. And to conclude we'd remind there are similar CF cards joint with USB.


Anton Kotov (anton.kotov@mobile-review.com)
Translated by Maria Mitina (maria.mitina@mobile-review.com)

Published - 4 July 2005

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