Flash cards to become even more convenient

For years, camera snappers have relied on pharmacies, service stations and convenience stores to pick up rolls of film for that last minute photo opportunity. Data storage maker SanDisk is hoping to capture that same, albeit digital camera, owner today by supplying low price flash memory cards in the same environment.

The cards, called Shoot & Store, can be in convenience stores within months, said Michael Hornsby, managing director of VME Systems, SanDisk’s Australian distributor.

VME is close to snaring a deal with a large convenience store chain, but did not disclose who that company was.

According to Hornsby the cards will be priced at or around AUD$27.95. The cards currently sell in the US for US$14.99. The cards will be supplied in four formats: CompactFlash, SecureDigital, SmartMedia and Memory Stick Pro.

Although the cards have a mere 32MB or 64MB flash capacity, they will be branded Shoot & Store 50 or Shoot & Store 100, representing the amount of images that can be saved onto the card.

Because the cards are to retail at a low price point, SanDisk has marketed them as ‘Store’ cards to encourage consumers to take the pictures and safe keep them rather than overwrite like they would for a larger memory card. While consumers don’t have to hoard them (the cards are writable), that is how they will be marketed, said Hornsby.

Hornsby said it makes “perfect sense” to get film from convenience stores. Having convenience stores supply digital “film” is the next logical step, given the amount of customers today in possession of digital cameras, he said.

“The digital world is taking over, so how do we [SanDisk] get into the digital camera space? And switched on retailers say this [Shoot & Store] is a good idea,” he said.

Meanwhile SanDisk has launched its Extreme line of flash storage cards. Available in three formats: CompactFlash, SecureDigital and Memory Stick Pro, the cards are able to write data at 9MBps. Typical SanDisk cards write at 3MBps.

The cards are called Extreme because they are designed to work in temperature ranges from –25 degrees to 85 degrees. For instance, sports photographers at this year's Australian Tennis Open in Melbourne complained that the extreme courtside temperature of up to 50 degrees affected the write speeds to their flash cards. Extreme cards are designed to eliminate this obstacle.

Prices start at AUD$129 for a 256MB CF card while SD and Memory Stick Pro cards range from $149.

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