17 June, 2012

SD Cards With Built-In USB Plugs

This is one of those products I think is a great idea, and I can't figure out why they discontinued.

A few years ago I bought a SanDisk Ultra II USB SD card. How many years ago? About the time when 2 GB of memory cost around $50.
The unique feature of this is it had a built-in USB plug, so you could use it on any computer without needing a card reader. I used this as my USB disk for a while. I think SanDisk meant for this to be carried around, because it came with a special SD card case too. I can't find the case right now, but it opened by swiveling, not plastic living hinges like all the other cases.
This is what it looks like half open.
I love the hinges on this, they're proper hinges that click into place. The card also clicks open and is really fun to play with.
This is it fully open, showing the USB connector. The hinge actually has 2 pivot points, allowing the card to flatten out.
They even put a tiny light on the card! (Yet their Blade USB drives don't have any lights)

I'm quite sad that SanDisk has stopped making these. At the last PC Show (June 2012), I came across another SD card with a built-in USB plug.
Sharpen "USD" card (USB + SD = USD). I'm a bit hesitant storing my new photos on an unknown brand. This USB plug is implemented differently.
The bottom of the card is just shaped to fit the USB port.
Advantages: no moving parts. May not block any USB ports (SanDisk's card juts out on both sides of the USB ports and blocks the other one on my MBP)
Disadvantages: may be difficult to remove from some SD card slots.

Ok since I have 3 SD cards here I thought I'd test their speeds. How will the old Ultra II perform? The third card is a Kingston Class 4 that came free with my camera.
Just copying a 139.3 MB file.
  • Kingston Class 4: 30.8 seconds (5 MB/s)
  • SanDisk Ultra II (USB port): 15.2 seconds (9 MB/s)
  • Sharpen Class 10 (USB port): 8.3 seconds (17 MB/s)
I only tested the USB ports because my MBP's SD card reader is not working properly and for some reason SanDisk's card only appeared as read-only (old problem).
Wow! The Ultra II is surprisingly fast for such an old card! And Sharpen's card matches quite well with the speed on the box (20 MB/s).

Added 13 July 2012
I tried cleaning the contacts on the Sharpen card with alcohol and this ink came off! I wonder what it's there for.

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