What kind of flash memory should I invest in?


#1

I admit it. I am confused and uncertain.

Technology has finally gotten to the point where I can’t keep up, but it hasn’t gotten so bad that I have techno-burnout.

I’ve been bitten before. Back when Iomega was the clear data storage winner with its ZIP drives, I bought 3Ms Laserdisc drive. I thought that was a really cool device. Just the fact that it had a laser in it was cool, and, being silly, I bought it to help the budding Imation. Imation is a 3M spinoff. I’m from Minnesota and I wanted to help the local economy. Ironically, the Laserdisc drive disappeared one day. I rarely used it anyway.

Here’s what’s happening. In a “flash,” data storage has become incredibly compact and capacious. Unfortunately, in the race to monopolize solid state data storage technology, companies have developed different media. It looks like Smart Media and Sony Memory Stick are in the lead, but I could be wrong. Guidance, anyone?! There is also USB plug-and-play memory chips, but I don’t see how that would succeed since they are not compatible with handheld devices.

OK. Here’s where it gets thorny. I am considering buying a PDA and I am also getting into MP3 pretty fast and furious. Then I thought “gee, wouldn’t it be nice if I could just plug my memory stick into an MP3 player and go! And wouldn’t it be neat if I didn’t need an MP3 player and just bought a PDA?” Then I found the Sony Clie. It plays MP3s from a Memory Stick. Sadly, the Memory Stick may not be the storage media for the future. And, judging by some comments I read on the Internet about Sony’s first Memory Stick MP3 player, I don’t know if I want to go that way. Perhaps this Clie gets the bugs out (it also serves as a remote control for TVs &c., cool, eh?)

I guess this is 1/2 rant, but also 1/2 appeal to those who know about solid state data storage and can put in their 2 bits worth on it. Please let me know what you think of Memory Stick as a music media. Sony’s MD never took off, ya know, but maybe the Memory Stick will???


#2

Sony’s Memory Stick is proprietary, whereas Compact Flash is more universal between manufacturers. I don’t know for sure, but Compact Flash may be a standard that doesn’t need to be licenced. Somebody check that please.

You’ll want to check out the following link. It has a chart that shows the market share with different flash memory formats:
http://www.compactflash.org/

My advice: Buy devices with Compact Flash. Don’t buy Memory Stick. No matter what happens, Compact Flash is going to be around for a while. It is widely supported, and there are an abundance of supporting peripherals out there.

HOWEVER, if you want your PDA to have MP3 playback capability (like I do), then I’d go with the Sony anway. Why? Cause I like Palm OS and no other is offering a better Plam OS/MP3 player solution … and in the end Sony’s Memory Stick will be around long enough to see you through the life of your PDA.

I bought a Plam IV two years ago, and now it’s worth giving away. Technology moves quickly and you should get things like this kowing that they have a practical shelf life of about two years. Just don’t invest heavily in a bunch of Memory Sticks. Get a few and be done with it. Sell them on eBay later when you move on to some other technology.


#3

True, the “Memory Sticks” are widely seen as an attemmt to lock the consumer into buying more Sony products. It’s a plan followed by many megacorps who feel they are big enough to challenge emerging standards in a brutish way. IMB, Hewlett-Packard and other mini/mainframe makers did this in the great “connector conspiracy” of the 1970s to make sure you attach only their peripherals to your rig.
But, on the other hand, I have a Sony digital camera that probably coudn’t be as compact as it is if it was designed around any other flash memory card than a “Memory Stick.”
However, my memory will always be more expensive than the standard stuff.
What pisses me off is that Sony doesn’t have one single flash standard. Sony notebooks and PDAs, for example, will accept a Memory Stick swapped out of my camera, but my Playstation 2 takes another type of proprietry Sony flash memory card.


#4

Compactflash is pretty cheap these days I bought a 128Mb card about six moths ago at the Kuanghua market for around NT$3,000 which is cheaper than in the US where the rule of thumb seems to be US$1 per Mb. Compactflash is pretty much a standard, at least for the moment. Thing is you can use it in different devices. I can take the memory card out of my Kodak digital camera and put it in my Psion palmtop if I need to (of course I would have to reformat the card). Guess you can’t do that with a memory stick unless all your stuff is Sony.


#5

I should add though, that “Memory Sticks” can be inserted into adaptors that fit into standard notebook PCMCIA ports though.


#6

It seems that SD (up to 128MB and 256MB in the near future) and CFII (up to 1GB and 4GB in the near future) will be the mainstream if you have not been hooked by Sony’s MS (up to 128MB and 256MB just released). If you want thin, you will have to go with SD or MS. I have both the Palm OS and Windows CE but top sources are telling me that CE will survive the OS war. There are many new PDA’s coming out this year that incorporate CFII+SD or SD-only on the CE platform that are thin attractive and multimedia-ready. My opinion is to get something that fits you today and don’t think of trying to escape obsolescence.


#7

flash memory is cheap these days. sony memory sticks used to be a huge turn off because they were so much more expensive than other types. now they have licenced 3rd manufacturers who produce it like sandisk and lexar. you can get a 128mb stick for under $75 in the us if you look around. cf is still cheaper(you can find sandisk 128mb cf cards for under $50), but the difference isn’t that huge anymore.

quite frankly, with most technology you buy today, why worry about memory when your much more expensive device that uses it will be obselete way before the memory?

btw, pocket pc(not wince anymore) was supposed to have won this war a long time ago.


#8
quote:
Originally posted by jeremy: technology moves quickly and you should get things like this kowing that they have a practical shelf life of about two years. Just don't invest heavily in a bunch of Memory Sticks. Get a few and be done with it. Sell them on eBay later when you move on to some other technology.

I think that really sums up my position. Get a technology and use it until it is no longer helpful. I remember when Netscape Communicator 4.79 was the sleakest, most efficient Internet program. It even had Internet-phone capabilities (which I never had time to test) and stuff! But then, when I had need for Chinese language… it fell on its face!

On this topic, I have another question… ICQ is so cool and full of features, like Internet phone… Does ICQ internet phone work?? HOw about those games you can play on the ICQ network… any fun?


#9

Quirky,

I suggest you start a new topic on the ICQ question. That way more people with knowledge on the subject will have an opportunity to see it. Name it something like, “What’s up with ICQ?” or “What’s the benefit of using ICQ?”

Jeremy


#10

Jeremy,

Thanks for the wonderful suggestion. For now, I think ICQ’s advanced and very sophisotcated Web sites will suffice on learning about these features… I guess monkeying with these things is the best way to learn … until I get frustrated and need help again. That will likely be when I join an applicable usergroup on the matter.


#11

a cf card and a usb cf reader will sort you out nicely for all your memory needs, this is going to be the industry standard the next few years…memory is only going to get cheaper(except for those monopolists at sony that is…)…

talk to u
roq


#12
quote:
Originally posted by lin_ruo_nan: a cf card and a usb cf reader will sort you out nicely for all your memory needs, this is going to be the industry standard the next few years...memory is only going to get cheaper(except for those monopolists at sony that is..)...

talk to u
roq


But i have never heard of cf before! How could it become the industry standard?


#13

Quirky:

Compact Flash(CF) was one of the first flash memory standards to appear. It’s used mainly in Pocket PC PDAs (anything that runs MS), Canon digital cameras and professional level digital cameras($2000+ kinds). It currently offers the highest capacity of all the flash memories at a pretty decent price. Smart Media and SD/MMC are smaller formats but are still more expensive and low capacity than CF.

Having said all of this, I don’t really understand why you want to “invest” in flash memory. Buy the PDA that fits your needs and buy the memory that you need. Same idea with a digital camera. Hoping for cross-usability is somewhat of a lost cause with technology changing so quickly.

PS. Zip drives are still quite popular, but not as popular as 3.5" floppies.


#14

To close out this topic, let me post something about an old “industry standard” problem: The clock dial.

FLORENCE CATHEDRAL CLOCK has hands that move “counterclockwise” around its 24-hour dial. When Paolo Uccello designed the clock in 1443, a convention for clockfaces had not emerged. Competing designs were subject to increasing returns: the more clockfaces of one kind were built, the more people became used to reading them. Hence, it was more likely that future clockfaces would be of the same kind. After 1550, “clockwise” designs displaying only 12 hours had crowded out other designs…