How to choose the right memory card

We help you select the right memory card for your digital camera, MP3 player or mobile phone

Shopping Checklist: Memory Cards

• Compatibility

Ensure the memory card you’re buying is the right one for your device. If you are buying a high capacity card, such as an SDHC card, ensure that the device you will be using the card in supports format. While an SDHC card will fit into a regular SD slot, some devices don’t support the higher capacity format.

• Capacity

Consider the amount of data you will need to store at any one time and purchase a memory card with an appropriate storage capacity. If you regularly delete or upload data to a PC, then a high capacity memory card may not be needed. On the other hand, if you travel regularly or need a card to store music and video on, then a larger capacity model may be a smart choice.

• Adapter

If you are using a smaller card, for example a microSD or Memory Stick M2, make sure you purchase an adapter that will allow you to use these cards in a regular SD or Memory Stick slot. Often these adapters are bundled with the cards when purchased, but sometimes they are sold separately.

• Card reader

A memory card reader lets you access the files on a flash memory card and may be handy if you have multiple types of card. There are many variants of card readers, but almost all of them connect via USB, making them easy to slot into a USB port on a PC or notebook computer. There are single card readers that can only read a single memory type, (for example SD), and multiple card readers that can read many memory card formats, including SD, SDHC, miniSD and Memory Stick. These are often called 3-in-1, 4-in-1 or 5-in-1 card readers, depending on the number of types of card they can read.

• Speed

Memory cards offer a variety of data transfer speeds. For the average consumer, this isn’t a big concern. But for professional photographers, for example, it can make a difference to image capture and transfer rates. Many new cards claim fast transfer speeds – some claim read and write speeds of up to 20MB per second. If this is important, then do consider the speed of the card before purchase.

• Software

Many memory card vendors package software specially developed for the cards. This can include image rescue software for use in cards for digital cameras, for example, or tools to recover accidentally erased or deleted files. The software is sometimes included on the cards, but usually just included in the sales package.

• Video

Many memory card manufacturers have developed cards specifically for video recording. For example, SanDisk offers a Video HD SDHC card, which it claims is ideal for recording high-definition video content from the latest range of HD camcorders.

• Write protection tab

Some SD cards have a sliding write protection tab, preventing the accidental loss of data. Sliding the tab forward means the card can't be written to; that is, any content on the card can't be removed nor can new content be loaded onto it. The write protection tab isn't a feature of smaller memory cards, such as microSD or miniSD cards.

• Accessories

Many memory card vendors provide accessories in the sales package. These can include a card adapter, cases or even a USB card reader. Although these accessories generally aren't expensive, buying them together in single package can save you some extra dollars.

• Multiple devices

If you own multiple devices with the same memory card slot, for example a digital still camera and a digital video camera that both use SD cards, sharing a single SD card between two devices can save you some money if you're on a budget.

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