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CES 2010: Hell Freezes Over - Sony Launches SD & MicroSD Cards

Gordon Kelly


CES 2010: Hell Freezes Over - Sony Launches SD & MicroSD Cards

We've a few more bits and pieces still to round up from CES 2010, but we'll mix it up with this week's news as it breaks (never stops, this stuff). So before it becomes old hat I must admit I didn't think I'd see this day until Armageddon... *looks skyward, checks for horses*

Sony has announced its own line of SD and microSD cards and in doing so all but admitted its days of making Memory Stick gobbling hardware are numbered. That said, it is something of a timid first step as its SD Cards will only come in 2GB to 32GB sizes when 64GB models are knocking around elsewhere and it has been even more cautious with microSD offering just 2GB, 4GB and 8GB capacities when 32GB cards are on the market.

On the plus side, both lines will come equipped with 'File Rescue' software that is bundled on certain Memory Stick lines and it is also releasing 'x-Pict Story' as a free download which enables users to make slideshows out of the card's content (though doesn't pretty much everything do this already?).

Performance? Sony was vague stating just 'Class 4' rather than specific read and write figures. This is hardly barnstorming stuff either since it translates to just 4MB per second - or 26x, when the majority of cards on the market are well beyond the top speed rating, 'Class 6' which is a mere 6MBps - or 40x. Sony does claim both ranges to be ultra-resistant to shock and able to withstand temperature extremes from -25C to 85C, but that is also pretty much par for the course.

Of course Memory Sticks won't die overnight (though I wish they would), since there is a vast array of products that will need supporting for the foreseeable future. Still, it is another brave step (push?) towards open standards from the one time King of Proprietary (a title fast being assumed by Samsung). Then again, haven't all the cool kids already moved onto SDXC...?

snoop 7

January 12, 2010, 7:24 pm

Hell indeed has frozen over! Sony have always tried {and failed} to be standard bearers - their failures:

- Memory Stick as opposed to SD

- Attrac via Mini Disc as opposed to MP3


- Cell processor (co produced)as opposed to what's available via Intel & AMD

Now they've swallowed their pride and embraced the standards that is common in the market. I applaud Sony for innovation but sometimes their stubbornness is their own undoing, unnecessarily incurring huge development costs.


January 12, 2010, 7:57 pm

AFAIK 32gb micro sdhc cards are only theoretically on the market.

I've been looking for 2 since mid last year and have yet to find anyone actually selling them either UK / USA. There are several retailers offering pre-order reservations at £5 a pop, and the usual crop of dodgy eBay sellers, but no genuine listings at the moment..


January 12, 2010, 8:56 pm

Sony aren't the powerhouse they use to be. This just shows how they can't afford to carry on with the proprietary attitude. This result was expected, but came sooner than myself and perhaps others thought...And they said nothing good would come out of this recession ;)


January 12, 2010, 9:00 pm

@snoop_7, if Intel or AMD was viable in consoles I'm pretty sure Microsoft would have used it for xbox360 - let's not forget the big 3 all developed their own chip architectures for the current generation consoles - so you can hardly call Sony out on Cell.

Lee Marshall

January 12, 2010, 9:05 pm

Is Sony actually manufacturing them or are they being made for them by someone else?


January 12, 2010, 9:26 pm

To add to snoop's list:

- Betamax, a challenger to VHS

- Sony Dynamic Digital Sound (SDDS), an alternative to Dolby Digital and DTS

- Super Audio CD

Maybe now Sony has finally won a "format war" with Blu-Ray, they're declaring victory and going home?


January 12, 2010, 10:14 pm

At last! Thankyou Sony for seeing sense. Now let's have SD/MicroSD for storage, mini or micro USB for power/data transfer, and 3.5mm headphone jacks used consistently across your product ranges please.

Incidentally, I STILL don't understand the flak being sent Samsung's way for introducing their own lens mount. In attempting to lock consumers into one lens mount they are simply going where Canon, Nikon, Minolta, Pentax and pretty much everyone else have gone before. There is no open standard when it comes to lens compatibility. The often cited exception, Micro Four Thirds, is not an open standard - it was created by Panasonic and Olympus, for the benefit of Panasonic and Olympus, not as a benevolent attempt to give us all more choice and convenience. Yes it would be nice for us if all lenses fit all cameras, but if Samsung think it doesn't make sense to ally themselves with MFT then I don't see why we should criticise them any more than we would criticise Canon for making cameras that don't accept Nikon lenses.

snoop 7

January 12, 2010, 10:59 pm

@ Epic - that's a fair point, I was struggling to think of other failures so was very much clutching at straws with the Cell processor. The likes of Microsoft and Nintendo developed bespoke processors with key partners but at a far lower cost to the Cell. I vaguely remember Sony putting the Cell on the pedestal to such an extent one would've thought it was going to challenge the likes of Intel and AMD! The Cell {via the PS3} achieves nothing more than the IBM Xenon {via the XBOX 360} achieves in terms of gameplay. Microsoft modified existing technology at the time which Sony could easily have done but as with anything innovative Sony tries to break away from the norm and loses track of development costs which adversely impacts on the company later.

@ John McLean - How could I forget Betamax?! Good examples. The Blu ray is one of their few, but lucrative, victories in the format stakes. Sony are so detached from the real world that they'll always try to establish the next de facto standard even if the public do not accept it, that&#8217s their way.


January 12, 2010, 11:00 pm

Surely Apple are the current King (Queen?) of proprietary?


January 12, 2010, 11:29 pm

Checks calendar. Nope, not April 1st.

I just bought a class 6 8GB MSDHC for £12.99 including p&p and a USB reader dongle. What's the bets that Sony will charge a gazillion times more for a lower speed card?


January 14, 2010, 2:58 am

Bashing Sony over the head for their 'proprietary' way of doing things is pretty much a flawed argument. Gordon's use of the term 'open standards' in the article is also misleading. For a start the memory stick standard existed before SD did. SD was not an open standard to begin with so how is that different to proprietary. DLNA and HMDI are now ubiquitous with Home Cinema products but neither of these are open standards. How long did it take Microsoft to open FAT filesystem? I can't think of any 'standard' where Sony has unnecessarily built an alternative and that includes CD, miniDisc and UMD. One should be careful not to confuse popularity with an *open* standard.

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