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SanDisk Ultra II+ SD Card

Sun Feb 5, 2006 - 12:16 PM EST - By Harv Laser


Those wizards at SanDisk, the inventor of flash storage cards, have brilliantly combined the high performance and speed of their Ultra II SD card with the ingenious convenience of a built-in USB connector right on the card. The result of this marriage is the Ultra II SD Plus USB cards.


If you’re new to the Treo, there are two accessories you’ll probably want to buy right away. Some kind of protective case, and an SD storage card. The Treo doesn’t have a lot of internal memory available, so a card is really a must-have, especially if you want to carry around a lot of music, videos, pictures, audio books, or any other big files that run into multi-megabytes each.

The SD card consortium’s roadmap says that by the end of 2007, there’ll be 32gb (!!) cards on the market. The Treo 650 can only (only?) address up to a 2gb card, but I expect forthcoming models to handle much bigger cards. Move over, iPod.

The Ultra II SD Plus USB comes in either 512mb or 1gb sizes and it’s an industry-standard SD card, so of course it’s right at home in your Treo, or in any Palm with an SD slot (or any digital camera, MP3 player, other handhelds and any other device that uses them).

But here’s where it leaps ahead of all other SD cards you’ve ever seen: you can fold it in half and plug it right into any modern computer with a USB 2.0 port and use it as a tiny portable Flash drive, with NO need for an adaptor or card reader. As far as I know, no one else makes an SD card like this. It’s just such a simple, logical concept; you have to wonder why no one thought of it before.

To transfer photos, data, music, programs, or whatever files you want to it, simply flip down the bottom half of the card to expose its USB high-speed connector and plug it into any USB 2.0 port on your computer. Then just copy whatever you want to or from the card, which shows up as a new drive letter, same as any USB “thumb drive” does. PC or Mac, it doesn’t matter. You don’t have to install any special drivers, as your computer should simply recognize it as a USB device and kickstart the appropriate system driver to talk to it.

No HotSyncing needed if you want to load it up with MP3s to play in your Treo. Just plug the card into your computer, drag/copy the files to it, pull the card out of the USB port, flip its bottom half back, (it clicks shut, and it’s not mushy feeling at all), and shove the card in your Treo. Whatever music player or picture viewer you’re using will treat it like any normal SD card.

The beauty of the Ultra II Plus USB card is that there’s no need to buy an SD card reader, adapter, cables, or anything else to lug around or lose. I use it to hold all kinds of data files and programs, and pop it into my Treo when I want to back her up using BackupBuddyVFS. I store a boatload of Mapopolis GPS maps on it, a bunch of my Audible.com audio books and their new AudibleAir program (review coming soon).

After a slightly confusing start, it was smooth sailing.

When I received the review sample from SanDisk I eagerly flipped the hinged half of the card down and shoved it in one of my laptop’s USB 2.0 ports - nothing happened. The computer didn’t see the card at all. Hmm. Was it DOA? Did I do something wrong? I studied it some more. It seemed logical to me to fold the card with its flip half pointing DOWN so the SanDisk label’s logo would be facing UP. An illustration on its packaging even pictured it going into a USB slot that way. Wrong. I had to turn the card upside down so the logo was facing down and the flipped part was pointing up. Only then did the tiny Gold contacts mate with my USB port’s contacts and the computer saw the card and all was fine.

Because the USB end of the card is not keyed in any way, (they had to design it like this, rather than using a standard keyed USB plug, so it would slide into SD card slots, after all), it will fit into a USB slot either way, but only one is the right way, and it will depend on which way the USB ports on your computer are mounted. No big deal really. Once you know which way to plug it in, problem solved.

The manual that came with the card and even the packaging said it worked with computers running Windows 2000 SP4, XP SP2, and Mac OS 10.1.2 . My laptop is Windows Home XP SP1 but it works just fine with it.

Data transfer rate to and from this card is blazingly fast!

On the PDA side, it worked perfectly in my Treo 650, 700w and other Palms I have, as a normal SD card, as well it should, because that’s what it is.

When plugged into a computer’s USB port, the card blinks its tiny but bright blue LED activity light, which is totally invisible when off. The LED on the card is so small I even examined the card with a 10x jeweler’s loupe and still couldn’t see the LED when it’s off. Remarkable technology.

The hinged flip half doesn’t feel all that fragile to me, and I’ve flipped it open and snapped it shut again hundreds of times, but like any precision micro-electronics, don’t treat it roughly.

Because of its slick flip and fold design, there’s no need for a removable protective cap, but in its package, you’ll find SanDisk includes both a standard, milky white SD card holder AND a handy swivel and click ring-equipped keychain holder, so no matter how you like to store and protect it when it’s not in your Treo, camera, or MP3 player, you’re good to go right out of the box. It’s considerate of SanDisk to not force you to buy more stuff to protect the stuff you just bought. Of course, you can store the card in your Treo’s case, if it has an SD card holder too, but I think the keychain holder is slick, so that’s where my card lives when it’s not in my Treo, or plugged into my laptop.

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Product Info
> Name SanDisk Ultra II SD+ Card
> Company SanDisk
> Test unit SprintPCS Treo 650, Compaq Presario XP laptop
> Weight 2.4 g
> Fact Sheet & User Opinions
> Available
> $79.95

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