Review: SanDisk 8GB Micro SDHC + MobileMate Micro Reader

Technology is moving at an alarming pace, allowing you to pack more in to a smaller place. Today I will present a continuation in this process: an 8GB Micro SDHC and the accompanying micro reader. The focus of course being on size and density.

The relatively new format, Micro SD, was introduced by SanDisk Corporation as a replacement for Transflash in 2005 and, along with Transflash, remains the smallest memory card form factor with dimensions 15 mm x 11 mm x 1 mm. Starting with petite 512MB versions three years ago, SanDisk has recently released micro drives capable of storing 16GB. The unit being reviewed is only 8GB, however.

I do not intend to mislead anyone here. Compared to a standard thumb drive, the only advantage of a micro SD card is the size. The main reason for this type of memory card existing is to fit large memory capacities in to small devices. Though, this review will go in depth in to the other benefits of having such a small memory card.

To start with, I loaded the card in to my phone to check the actual memory given. 7782.0MB was reported by my Windows Mobile device. This appears generous as using 1 kB = 1000 Bytes, the method hard drive manufacturers usually use, should report as 7450.6MB.

Quickly, on to speed now. This device is Class 4 but this card also comes in Class 2 and Class 6 versions. The class rating, as defined by the SD Association, specifies that the minimum sustained write speed of the memory card must be 4MB/s. This is in league with larger SD cards that also follow the same minimum speeds proving size doesn't affect speed.

Now, to shock you all.

That's how small these cards are. Forget thumb drives. This is a thumbnail drive.

As you can see by looking at the back of the card, the actual memory crams in to about one-third of the space with the connector taking up another third. This begs the question as to whether it may be possible to create an even smaller form factor soon. Of course the major problem with new form factors is gaining acceptance. As micro SDHC is used in most phones and some digital cameras too, it is not going away any time soon.

I must also mention that I have small hands! In saying this, a better comparison for this card would be to an ordinary thumb drive.

In the above image is a 1GB Imation Nano drive. The capacity is not that outstanding, sure. The reason I used this device was due to its size though. It fits in my wallet! Not all computers have bluetooth and if I want to save to my camera or phone I need a data cable. So, I would cart this thumb drive in my wallet everywhere I went so that I could save university documents and other important files when the need arose.

Well, that was until I received this micro SDHC card. I have had SD and micro SD cards before though. Unfortunately, not all computers have SD slots or even micro SD slots, let alone micro SDHC slots. So what is different about this one? The MobileMate Micro card reader that comes with it allows you to use the card on any computer hosting a USB port while maintaining the small form factor. How small?

Atleast half the size of my Imation Nano. For me this was a very good reason to ditch the Imation drive and remove the clutter from my already bulky wallet. The MobileMate now rides as wingman in my front right pocket.

Finally in the comparison, I decided to test the 'stick out' factor of both USB drives. That is, when they are plugged in, how much of the drive is left hanging. As you can see above, the MobileMate micro reader is significantly smaller. This is an important factor when you consider netbooks. People don't want a thumb sticking out the side of their netbook, not just because it looks unsightly but also due to the off chance it could snap off.

The best feature of the MobileMate is that the cards are pluggable so you could have it resting in your wallet while your micro SDHC card is in your phone. If you come to a computer that has a micro SDHC card slot, then you won't need to use it but it is there when you do.

The package was supplied by Crazy Shopping Australia. On their website, a SanDisk Micro SDHC 8GB Card currently sells for AU$33.95 (US$22.70). It is an additional AU$6.60 for the MobileMate Micro reader. While the card may be quite old now, the news is that such high density memory is now affordable. At this price point it directly competes with the larger thumb drives. Anybody could run down to their local store and get one of these today.

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