PDA, Notebook and Phone Reviews and buyers guide

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Flash Memory Card Reviews:

SD Cards
ATP Mini SD and SD cards High Speed 60x
Kingston Elite Pro 50x
Kingston Ultimate SD Cards 120x
PQI SD & mini SD High Speed
Ridata PRO 66x
SanDisk (Standard Speed)
SanDisk Extreme III High Speed

CF Cards
Butterfly Media
Delkin eFilm
Kingston Elite Pro High Speed
Ridata PRO 80x

Memory Stick / Memory Stick Pro

MMC Cards

RS-MMC Cards

PC Card Hard Drives
Toshiba 2 & 5 gig

Multifunction Drives
Ridata QuattroDrive

USB Flash Drives
Kingston DataTraveler Elite
Crucial Gizmo

Card Readers
Asante Gini 6 in 1
Crucial 6 in 1 Reader

Dazzle 6-in1 Reader
Proporta 7-in-1 Reader
Sandisk ImageMate Memory Stick Pro Reader

Card Cases

Handspring Springboard
MemPlug CF & MemPlug Smart Media

Kingston Elite Pro High Speed SD and CF Cards, prices vary with capacity, 5 year warranty
by Lisa Gade, Editor-in-Chief, Feb. 2004

(Read Storage Options for your PDA: an explanation of the different types of cards here.)

Normally we don't devote a separate review to storage cards, but the Kingston Elite Pro high speed cards are definitely something to write home about. As PDAs become more powerful, our readers crave more speed from cards so that they can play large, high quality videos from cards, load large databases and play demanding games which are stored on SD (Secure Digital) and CF (CompactFlash) cards. Many folks use the same card in both digital cameras and PDAs, and wish to view images shot with those digicams on their PDA's lovely screen. Today's digicams average 3 to 5 megapixels, and that means large files which run from 1 to 4 megs in size each. These can take a long time to load from a card, so having a faster card can really make a difference. We were so impressed by the speed of Kingston's Elite Pro line, that we decided to do a dedicated review of these cards.

Kingston SD card

Manufacturers of cards express their product's speed in varying terms (SimpleTech says theirs are 4x faster than standard cards, Lexar uses a range of value such as 12x, 32x and so on, but those numbers don't have a direct correspondence to other brands' speed labels. SanDisk calls their fast line Extreme, and Kingston calls theirs the Elite Pro and Kingston actually provides real numbers for read and write speeds which is ever so useful and clear.

Kingston Elite Pro High Speed SD (Secure Digital) Cards

Kingston is a large and well known maker of computer memory, even offering hard to find RAM for less common notebook PCs such as my Sony Vaio TR2A and the Sony U101. In addition they make flash memory cards for digital cameras, MP3 players and PDAs. They're a name to trust with a great track record for reliable performance. We received their 256 meg Elite Pro SD card for review, which offers transfer rates up to 10MBps average. These cards are MUCH faster than standard SD cards, and use Single Level Cell Technology (SLC). Kingston claims that both read and write speeds are significantly faster (write: 1.5 megs/sec. vs. 5 megs/sec, read: 2 megs/sec vs. 10 megs/sec). I've not only benchmarked the card using VFSMark on Palm OS and seen how fast this card is (it attains a VFSMark of 651), but experientially it's hugely faster than a regular SD card too. I tested it in a Sharp Zaurus C860 for movie playback, which is probably the best test of card speeds in a PDA. Using 3 different video players, I saw no discernable dropped frames and got perfect audio/video sync when playing movies encoded at 300k bit rates. Using standard SD cards, as Zaurus users know, movies do not play smoothly and audio often falls out of sync. I tested the card in a Toshiba e805 Pocket PC and was similarly impressed. I no longer bother with CF cards (which use a faster data bus than SD cards) for movie playback because the Kingston Elite Pro does the trick perfectly. And that's important to PDA owners whose models have both CF and SD cards because you'd rather keep that CF slot free for networking cards, GPS and more while using the SD slot for memory.

VFSMark has become the standard for measuring card speed and it runs on Palm OS devices. Regardless of which platform you'll be using the card on, VFSMark scores will reflect the relative speed of cards in your device. On a T3, a VFSMark score around 300 is quite good, and over 600 is fantastic.

VFSMark Speed Comparisons using a Palm Tungsten T3
Each 60% full of data. A VFSMark of 100 corresponds to a Palm V + 16 meg SD card. Higher numbers are better.

256 meg Kingston Elite Pro SD Card

File Create: 140%
File Delete: 82%
File Write: 31%
File Read: 725%
File Seek: 1475%
DB Export: 845%
DB Import: 1230%
Record Access: 928%
Resource Access: 893%

VFSMark: 621

256 meg SanDisk Standard SD Card

File Create: 37%
File Delete: 18%
File Write: 26%
File Read: 311%
File Seek: 453%
DB Export: 20%
DB Import: 393%
Record Access: 425%
Resource Access: 384%

VFSMark: 229







Kingston Elite Pro High Speed CompactFlash Cards

Kingston offers two lines of CF cards: the standard speed and Elite Pro high speed CF cards. We received the Elite Pro card, which uses Single Level Cell Technology (SLC).

Kingston CF card


While Kingston states that read speeds are similar for their standard and Elite cards (both very high at over 6 megs/sec), I found that read speeds were much faster with the Elite Pro card compared to regular CF cards by other manufacturers. Videos encoded at high bitrates (600K) stuttered on my Pocket PC and Zaurus C860 using "regular" cards, while they played perfectly from the Kingston Elite Pro CF card. Write speeds are more than 3x faster on the Elite card (1.5 megs/sec vs. 5.2 megs/sec). Kingston CF cards are fast at reading files from the card (viewing digital photos, playing games). If, like many of us, you also use the card in your digital camera, or are saving images taken with a PDA camera to the card, you'll definitely appreciate the write speed performance boost. If you've got a 3 megapixel or higher digital camera, you know how long you have to wait between shots while the image is being saved to the card. With the Kingston Elite Pro card, I found that image save times were MUCH faster with my 5 megapixel Olympus digicam! In addition, their flash memory cards offer automatic bad sector re-mapping, which ensures data integrity., price varies with capacity, lifetime warranty







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