Sony does SD; Panasonic intros first SDXC cards

Forget the sleek and shiny: the most thrilling news of the show for many of us is the signs of various media, proprietary or otherwise, starting to die.

Lori Grunin Senior Editor / Advice
I've been reviewing hardware and software, devising testing methodology and handed out buying advice for what seems like forever; I'm currently absorbed by computers and gaming hardware, but previously spent many years concentrating on cameras. I've also volunteered with a cat rescue for over 15 years doing adoptions, designing marketing materials, managing volunteers and, of course, photographing cats.
Expertise Photography | PCs and laptops | Gaming and gaming accessories
Lori Grunin
2 min read

Sony liberates its cameras and camcorders from Memory Stick Duo. Sony Electronics

It's the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine: Sony is not only branding its own line of SD cards, but also most of its point-and-shoot cameras and camcorders for 2010 actually have combo slots that can take SD cards in addition to Sony's hopefully-dying-soon Memory Stick Duo cards. The company's dSLRs have long been SD- and CompactFlash-friendly.

For the purposes of digital cameras and camcorders, Memory Stick has always been more expensive yet slower than its SD competitors. Though we long ago resigned ourselves to the knowledge that buying Sony meant buying Memory Stick, we still get e-mails from readers complaining that we fail to highlight the need for Memory Stick Duo as a "con" in our reviews.

And that's just the tip of the dying-media iceberg. Long in a similar position, Olympus has also added SD support to its snapshot cameras, which have been hobbled by proprietary xD-Picture Cards. While Sony and Panasonic have each announced a couple of hard-drive camcorders, no one is offering new DVD-based models, and Canon has gone completely flash. (While hard drives allow for high capacities on the cheap, hard drives are more prone to failure than most media and their relatively large size makes for bulky devices.)

In other SD news, Panasonic announced the first SDXC cards (In my CES preview, I embarrassingly predicted that we absolutely wouldn't see any SDXC stuff, so of course it's everywhere.) Most of the camcorders announced at the show and at least Canon's snapshot cameras incorporate support for the new format. Panasonic's first shipping cards will be rated Class 10 in 48GB and 64GB capacities--at admittedly high initial prices of $449.95 and $599.95, respectively--and use the company's proprietary, error-correction optimized controller technology. They'll be available in February. Toshiba also announced its 64GB SDXC card, but with a vaguer second quarter ship date and no pricing.

The SDXC format, announced a year ago, technically supports capacities up to 2TB and is theoretically capable of a bandwidth of 300 megabytes per second (should we call it "Class 300?"). Right now, no camcorders require much past Class 6-equivalent performance, including Class 10 cards with their 10 megabyte per second performance floor, but the higher capacity will certain come in handy in the interim.