Shopping for flash memory? SD cards are the gold standard in portable memory for cameras, phones, camcorders, laptops and other devices. But there’s a vast array of specifications, formats and other features built-in to SD cards that make one card different from the next. For instance, take the SanDisk 2 GB Secure Digital Memory Card and the SanDisk Extreme III 16 GB Secure Digital High Capacity Memory Card. Both will work in your typical digital camera, both come from SanDisk, but one costs $129.99 while the other costs just $9.99. So, what’s the difference? What justifies paying $120 extra for a memory card? Read on to find out.
What’s the Same?
Both of these cards are SD cards manufactured by SanDisk, one of the top names in flash-based memory, and both are approved according to SD Association standards. That means both will work in standard SD slots and are perfect for storing photos, videos, backing up data and other common functions. As standard size SD cards, they fit into normal-sized slots that are usually used in camcorders, digital cameras, laptops and computers with card readers. They won’t fit in cell phones.
The SanDisk Extreme III 16 GB is obviously bigger, and that plays a large role in the much, much larger price tag. At 16 GB, it can hold eight times as much as the SanDisk 2 GB SD card. That means eight times more photos, eight times more video and eight times more songs. But as you may have noticed, the SanDisk Extreme III is much more than eight times the cost of the SanDisk 2 GB card.
This is where the SanDisk Extreme III really differentiates itself from the SanDisk 2 GB SD card. The SanDisk Extreme III is a Class 10 card, meaning it has write speeds above and beyond 10 Mb/s. It also has the Enhanced Super-Parallel Processing (ESP) technology, which further improves performance. The SanDisk SD Card, on the other hand, is a Class 0 card, meaning it’s speed is 2 Mb/s or slower. This is important for use in camcorders or digital audio recorders that are writing high definition video or audio. The high speed card is necessary for ensuring that all that data gets written without errors or skips. A slower SD card simply won’t cut it, regardless of capacity.
The SanDisk 2 GB SD card has a five years limited warrnaty for parts and labor when you buy it from Best Buy. The SanDisk Extreme III, on the other hand, has a lifetime warranty for parts and a lifetime limited warranty for labor when you buy it from Best Buy.
So, when should you buy the SanDisk Extreme III card? When you’re capturing HD video on a digital camcorder. Otherwise, you shouldn’t bother shelling out the extra $120. A SanDisk 2 GB will be sufficient for most digital cameras and other uses. It may take longer to transfer files to and from your PC or another device, but the speed difference won’t be enough to justify paying the much higher price for a Class 10 SD card.