But whether or not this card is based on a different form factor or not isn’t really important, what is important is how useful it is. As already mentioned, for someone like myself who regularly has to report from large trade shows, a memory card that I can insert straight into my notebook without having to carry a card reader is a real bonus. If this design catches on, it could also mean that notebook manufacturers won’t have to try and squeeze in multi-format card readers into their machines, thus saving weight.
In use this little card performed flawlessly. I copied 342MB of HD video to the card first using a USB 2.0 card reader and then plugging it straight into the PC – both methods turned in times of just over 50 seconds, while reading back the data took just over 30 seconds. I guess the advantage with a card like this is that it can also be used as a USB memory key. It’s clear that SanDisk expects you to use the card in this manner, since it supplies a slim, key ring holder, so that you can carry it with you at all times.
But it’s not all a bed of roses with this card, as how useful it is depends entirely on the location and layout of your USB ports. You see if you have very little space surrounding your USB ports, there might not be enough room to insert the card. But even if you have unrestricted USB ports, it's a bit fiddly inserting the card if there's something plugged into the adjacent port.
The answer to this problem would be to bundle a USB extension cable in the box to get around those awkward USB ports, but unfortunately SanDisk doesn’t supply one.
Another factor to consider is price, but you have to remember that this is a high-speed card, so you’re not going to be able to pick it up for under £30 like a bog standard 512MB SD card. In fact, a non USB compliant Ultra II card will set you back around £43, so you’re actually only paying £7 extra for the USB functionality. Personally I think that the price is pretty reasonable, considering the fact that you’re actually getting a USB memory key and an SD card all in one svelte package.
So, the SanDisk Ultra II Plus USB SD card isn’t quite perfect, but it is revolutionary in the best possible way. Hats off to SanDisk for coming up with this idea, and I sincerely hope that one day all memory cards will work this way.