Kingston 32GB microSDHC Mobility Kit ReviewnVidia_Freak - June 28, 2011
Category: Storage / Hard Drives
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Portable electronics have been moving away from the use of traditional tape and disk-based storage for quite some time. Be that as it may, just two years ago it was easy to find relatively inexpensive consumer grade camcorders that used either MiniDV tapes or HDDs as a storage medium. Even so, the push for more compact devices was visible. Many of these same devices also supported a form of flash memory, such as SD(HC), microSD(HC), MemoryStick, or CompactFlash. These flash memory storage formats offer a couple key advantages over traditional storage types:
- 1] The obvious advantage is size reduction. One common complaint about traditional storage based devices have been they could be particularly heavy, bulky, and just plain cumbersome to handle. The move to flash memory storage has tremendously decreased the size of tape and HDD devices by taking out the 2.5" HDDs and tape mechanisms.
- 2] Another advantage to using flash memory is the cost reduction of potential upkeep. HDDs are comparatively more difficult to repair and expensive to replace. Tape mechanisms, in addition to also being expensive to repair and replace, require a specialized skill set to do so, thus increasing the cost of labor. Furthermore, replacement parts can be hard to locate and some may even be proprietary in construction, thus driving up the cost of parts even more.
The gains from using flash memory instead of more traditional storage formats are as follows: By reducing overall size, devices are more aesthetically appealing to potential customers because they are easier to handle and use. By removing complex and proprietary mechanisms and parts, thus reducing the amount of material used, the cost of repair and replacement decreases dramatically not only for RMA service, but also for end-user repairs. By extension, the initial purchase price is also reduced. At the end of it all, flash memory storage makes portable electronics easily moveable and more affordable.
Why the background information? I've not only explained how flash memory benefits the mass market, but also how that can lead to a benefit in our niche market. Mass adoption of a technology reduces its cost, increases demand, and thus boosts development, continuing circularly until the technology is no longer accepted. With flash memory, this is most certainly the case. For example, with the SD storage format, not only can SD cards of up to 16GB in size be purchased inexpensively and in any corner store that has a photo department, but the availability of 32GB SD cards has also quadrupled and their cost has decreased up to 50% over the past two years.
As the SD storage format continues to gain popularity, replace USB thumbdrives, and even become a viable alternative to external HDDs, mass adoption is especially important, as stated. Still, there are some expensive SD cards aimed at the performance junkie. Kingston Technology is one such caterer to this type of user, and has recently released a 32GB class 10 microSDHC mobility kit — and at approximately $115, it had better deliver. First, though, let's take a good look at what it is I'll be testing.
This isn't just a memory card from Kingston, but a mobility kit. In Kingston's case, that means a microSD to USB adapter and a microSD to SD adapter are both included along with the card for ultimate flexibility no matter where you are and what's available. Kingston offers its standard lifetime warranty on the memory card, which is somewhat misleading in name. "Lifetime" in this case refers to the lifetime of the card, or until it is no longer manufactured or there aren't any replacements left in stock. Theoretically this could be tomorrow, next week, next month, or next year, but in reality it's up to Kingston's RMA department to decide if it will honor the warranty toward your card. Both microSD adapters feature Kingston's standard two-year warranty, which begins from the moment of purchase. Kingston provides a link on the backside of the packaging to its warranty information where it is provided in thirty different languages.
This offering from Kingston is a class 10 microSDHC card. Class ratings for SD cards of all types are directly related to the minimum read/write speeds in MB/s. So a class 10 microSDHC card, such as the one being tested, should read/write at no less than 10 MB/s. Do understand however, that SD class ratings are for the minimum transfer speeds only, but many cards will outperform their advertised class rating. Class ratings should only be taken as a guarantee that the card will not read or write at speeds slower than its class. The microSD format is a very tiny one, with a surface area measuring just over one and a half square centimeters — small enough to be eclipsed even by my little finger! The ultra-small form factor means that the memory chip inside it must be of higher density than that of SD cards and the high capacity means that this card uses an ultra-dense memory chip. Generally, the denser the memory chip, the faster points within can be accessed, thus files can be read and transferred at faster speeds than using several low density chips to achieve the same capacity. How this turns out in reality remains to be seen.