Storage/Memory Card Tips

Not a day goes by when we hear about a new kind of storage technology and the increasing capacities of the flash memory cards. It is an area which is full of innovation, and where MooreÌs Law is in full effect.

The multimedia applications are driving the need for more storage. Operating systems such as Windows XP and OS-X incorporate significant multimedia advancements for their respective audiences, and are driving the need for more storage. If you’re just using the computer for word, excel, etc, you won’t have the need for much storage. But digital photography and digital video are new applications that are becoming mainstream and these apps require larger capacity drives, more RAM, more robust processors and hard drive space.

Given this is the holiday season, and most people are busy buying digital gifts, I decided to write a quick essay and tips on buying Flash Storage, with some help from my friends at Lexar Media, and Toshiba. Here is a breakdown of how much storage you may need for a particular device:

PDA: Here I think the best capacity is 256 MB for you can save a couple of Mp3-albums, documetns and email archives. This is one device where more is good. However, please don’t spend more than $100 on a memory card. the prices fall so quickly that you may be overcome with buyer’s remore.

Cellular Phones: It all depends on what is the end application for the storage. However if you have a smart phone which can take a SD card, then you can easily settle for 64 megabytes of storage, which is enough for some documents, backing up address book and calendar and keeping emails archived. If you have a camera phone then 64 MB is good enough to hold a lot of photos, which despite progress made in camera technology are still of poor quality and thus take up little space.

Another thing to keep in mind is that Mini SD, MS DUO, and RS-MMC are the form factors that are going in to cell phones. They are smaller in size than their larger cousins, and because of that, the capacities will never be as large, because there is less room to pack flash.

Digital Cameras: People should probably start with 64MB. However, we expect to see the cameras in cell phones increase in mega pixels before too long and the higher capacity cards for them will become standard. However my recommendation is that consumers should buy 128MB at the very least and opt for 256MB. Because the cameras have increased in quality, (i.e. Megapixels) 256 MB card is the best bet, for it is affordable and has enough capacity to keep the photo record of a family vacation.

Video Camera: These need tons of storage. So perhaps the best bet is the traditional tape or some cheaper medium. However, if you have a video camera with flash memory slot, then my advice is go for the biggest cards you can afford, but because you can never have too much storage. In other words its like you cannot be too rich or too thin.

As one word of caution, I think you should remember, that paying lots of money for say 512 MB or 1 GB card is not prudent. Wait for nine months, the capacity will double and the prices will fall. A 512 MB card next year could be going for $75 and a 1 GB card for about $125.

Link to camera capacity chart

Memory Cards Explained

Storage Tips for your PDA

All about Flash Memory Cards from PC World

Digital camera Buying Tips from Doc Searls