SmartMedia Card

When digital cameras, PDAs and MP3 players became available to the general public the need for the extra digital storage space became greater than ever. In the beginning, many people used 3.5 inch floppy diskettes for backup and for storage. Compared to the storage devices that we have today, the old-fashioned floppy disks are huge, yet were not able to store as much information as a SmartMedia card.

Toshiba released the first SmartMedia card in 1995. It was the first flash memory card available for use by the general public. It is a small portable storage device that makes storage of digital media and data a lot more convenient than the former 3.5 inch diskettes that were formally used. The SmartMedia card has a single NAND flash chip that has been embedded in a small 0.76 mm thick plastic card. One of the major drawbacks to the SmartMedia card was the fact that it lacked a built-in controller chip so it could not perform automatic wear leveling and could not prevent premature wear out of the card. This poses a problem because the cards are continually read and written in the required SmartMedia reader device. That is because the card will not be able to be read or written on any longer once it is damaged or corrupted, making the card virtually unusable. If the card loses data or corruption in the formatting is noticed it is damaged. Many people throw them away. However, sometimes these cards can be repaired with repair software and the lost data retrieved. In fact, most corrupted SmartMedia cards can be repaired.

Storage capacity in the SmartMedia cards range from 0.5 MB to 128 MB. This limited amount of the storage capacity is practically irrelevant or useless in today’s computerized world of digital information storage needs. The SmartMedia cards are no longer being manufactured. However some computers and desktops are still being built with SmartMedia slots and you can use SmartMedia readers to get the information on a SmartMedia card onto the computer or laptop. The SmartMedia reader is needed to transfer images on to the computer using a USB connection. The micro memory stick and the microSD have gained in popularity over the SmartMedia card nowadays however and have taken over the market so not many people buy SmartMedia cards anymore.

The SmartMedia cards were made popular because of the digital camera market. By the year 2000, the camera market dominated the world of digital storage needs. The popularity and domination of the SmartMedia card peaked in 2001 and began to demish when camera resolutions increased and camera sizes were made are smaller and smaller. The newer digital cameras need storage devices that can hold larger amounts of data than 128 MB. Fuji and Olympus camera makers switched to the xD picture card and Toshiba switched to the higher capacity, Secure Digital cards (SD) since there was an increased need for cards that can hold way more than 128 MB.

The SmartMedia card is still acknowledged for its contribution to the technology field but is going the way of the past. It was popular for over 10 years but is now declining rapidly. Storage capacity is just not sufficient enough for today’s modern digital storage needs and there are no plans to make SmartMedia cards that can compete with the larger storage devices. You can still purchase SmartMedia cards to use in PDAs, MP3 players, or some digital cameras from certain vendors. They come in two formats, the modern 3.3V or the older 5V. The V stands for main voltage supply. You need to be careful that the card fits the device. If you try to insert a 3.3 V. card into the 5V only card reader you can permanently damage the card. You can also buy a dual voltage card reader which will eliminate that problem. Many vendors online still sell used or new SmartMedia cards.

This SmartMedia Card Review is Written/Updated on Sep 13th, 2010 and filed under Consumer Electronics. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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