In all my years of carefully avoiding products by Sony (helped in no small part by my being in charge of Sony entertainment products at work which has kept a small burning hatred of anything to do with their company smouldering continuously on back burner, and occasionally flaring up whenever I try to update our third party developer guidelines and templates only to find they've “apparently” renewed them all, but upon downloading and checking the contents discovering the majority are simply the old ones re-uploaded, sometimes with a new version number and no changes, sometimes with changes and no new version number, sometimes a completely different document sharing the same document name and reference number, the list goes on, and the products OH the products, don't even get me started on them...) so you can imagine how it pains me to have to finally reach this sorry conclusion. I genuinely believe it would be advantageous to everyone that uses small handheld electronic devices compatible with flash card memory, such as mobile phones, PDAs, lower range cameras, music players, and even game machines such as the Wii, if the industry adopted Sony's proprietary Memory Stick standard.
This frustration is particularly exacerbated by the very superfluous existence of said proprietary flash memory standard in a market already flooded by open standard devices being a former pet peeve of mine.
However, the Memory Stick has one thing going for it which its closest competing rival the SD Card (and related Mini SD and Micro SD) cannot touch - unlike the SD Card, it does not suck the sweat off a donkey's itchy scrote from 25 yards. The SD Card, unlike the Memory Stick, does. Here is why:
Not all SD Cards are compatible with all SD Card devices. Clearly I had made a grave error in judgement when I assumed this traditionally not to be the case.
Case study #1, I purchase an SD Card compatible phone, and a 256MB SanDisc card to store music and digital photos on it. After a while, I find the photos becoming increasingly corrupted when I attempt to read them at a computer, though the phone continues to have no problems with them, almost as if the phone had its own unique way of writing data to the FAT formatted disc that was extremely similar, but subtly different from the way everything else did. “Obviously you had a faulty disc or a dodgy phone” I hear you say, but on double checking the manual it clearly stated in microscopic print that it is “only guaranteed to work” with SD Cards up to 128MB. WTF!! Either it supports the standard or it doesn't. Compact Flash does not have this problem. Memory Stick does not have this problem either.
Case study #2, I purchase a new phone by a different maker and on a different network that uses the Mini SD standard. This one is kind enough to contain a compatibility chart listing the three most popular makers of SD Cards and what size discs from each it is compatible with. If I recall, SanDiscs were fine for 16, 32, 64, 128 and 256MB, Panasonic up to 128MB and Hitachi up to 64MB. WTF some more - surely a 256MB SD Card made by one company is exactly the same as a 256MB SD Card made by another. That's why it's a standard and not a freeforall. Regardless, feeling safe in the knowledge that this one was actually guaranteed to work, I purchased a 256MB SanDisc Mini SD, which didn't work. Well it sort of worked, but copying protected files on to it didn't, at all. It just wouldn't accept them, which kind of defied all reason. In other words, it didn't work. Assuming there to be a problem with the phone, I went to my nearest AU office and enquired. There, they downloaded a new compatibility chart that had been updated the following evening (superseding what was in the manual) saying that SanDisc is retrospectively not supported at all. Thankfully, Yodobashi were kind enough to refund me for my 256MB Mini SD, and with the money I got a Panasonic 128MB one, which so far hasn't given me any problems as far as my phone is concerned. More on that later. (Chart linked above shows greater compatibility than when this story related too, but still far from complete...)
Case study #3, I reformat my old 256MB SanDisc SD Card for use with the Wii, and put MP3s in a folder so that I can play them with Excite Truck. By accident, an MP3 not becoming bastard-fast offroad trucking slipped into the collection, so I decided to attempt to delete it. The folder containing MP3 had been locked. Locked solid. It could not be opened. It could not be deleted. Even a good old fashioned “sudo” wouldn't touch the bloody thing. As an experiment, I tried putting a different MP3 in a different folder, played it in Excite Truck and that folder became locked too. So my choices it seems are either to reformat the disc and start again (assuming it'll let me do that) or allow my Excite Truck experience to forever tainted by the melodic guitaring of the Drifters.
Even those that are compatible are still way too easily corrupted. That 128MB Panasonic Mini SD I mentioned earlier, still has constant corruption issues when I attempt to connect it to a computer. Messages appear almost as soon as it's inserted to the effect that the disc cannot be read. Sometimes it's enough to reinsert it into my phone, copy a new file to it, or delete an existing file to cure the problem, and sometimes it isn't. It seems to help if the file insertion or deletion is from a file system hierarchy perspective quite close to the file I wish to retrieve, though I'm surprised even Voodoo logic works. And removing it is questionable at best. A little flashing light on the flash drive tells me when it's safe to remove the disc after dismounting, and that just keeps on flashing for a good 10-15 minutes sometimes. No idea what it's doing, but it's definitely something that Compact Flash and Memory Sticks don't have to.
In short, I have never used a single SD Card with a single device that didn't cause considerable problems on a regular basis. SD is clearly not a fitting standard to trust one's mobile storage needs to, nor is it really a standard at all by any common sense measure, and I wish the industry would stop forcing it onto us.
The latest assault was in the form of a high definition camcorder that takes an SD Card for its storage I saw on a news report last night. The bullshit detectors always go off the chart when I hear of these high definition camcorders with FULL-HD printed on the side as if it meant something, as they invariably only support SD-TV (480i) and 1080i, the absolute lowest of the HD standards. And I use the word support very loosely here, as what they call 1080i is actually 1040i anamorphatised horizontally into a roughly 4:3 aspect ratio. Whoever coined the expression “Full-HD” was clearly inspired by Apple's “Fairplay,” Microsoft's “Play's for Sure” and Bush's “Patriot Act” in terms of sarcastic naming conventions. I digress. On one such camcorder that uses regular tape, 15 minutes of high definition video used about 11 GB of space. Seeing the particular SD card they're pushing is only 4GB, how much video are they expecting people to put on this disproportionately expensive media? My estimates of approximately 5-6 minutes, are a little lower than the official figure of 90 minutes. I don't know what planet these guys are from, but I want to go there for my next vacation. A 4.7GB single layer DVD can only reasonably take one hour of standard definition 480i video before the compression artefacts start to become overly noticeable, so how exactly are they proposing that we get 90 minutes of high definition video onto a media that is smaller?! The simple answer is they've gone beyond being merely misleading into downright lying. And even if they weren't, there's no way I'd trust 90 minutes of my life to the travesty that is the SD standard.