A memory card is a thin plastic square that contains a flash memory chip. It is about one inch long on each side and looks a bit like a poker chip. On the front, there is a label showing the type and capacity of the card. The contacts on most cards are located on the back but there are a few cards that have them on one side. Memory cards can store any type of digital media, but the most common things people put on them are pictures and videos. There are many different types available but the most common is the Secure Digital (SD) card. The SD card is so popular that it is considered the unofficial standard for portable devices. Manufacturers even risk losing sales by not having support for the SD card in their new products.
The XD card was developed jointly by Fujitsu and Olympus back in 2002. The name apparently stands for eXtreme Digital but you rarely see or hear that used anymore. It was designed to be used with their digital cameras and digital voice recorders. While most memory cards have a square shape, the XD card is unique because one of its edges is curved and it has a notch on one of the smaller sides. The flat side opposite the curved side is the one that is inserted into an XD card reader. XD cards are available in capacities from sixteen megabytes up to two gigabytes. There are many different card readers that can read XD cards but they all fall into just two groups.
The first type of XD card reader is a USB stick with a single slot for an XD card. It is very small and easily fits into a pocket or small bag. A USB stick does not need a battery or power adapter because it draws electrical power from the USB port, which is powered by the computer. The only problem with this type of reader is that it can only read XD cards. Other memory cards use different slots that are incompatible with the XD card. This is where a multi-card reader comes in handy. A typical model accepts over twenty different memory cards but only needs four slots. This is because of the similarity between the various cards, most of which are just variations on an original design. Instead of a USB plug, multi-card readers have a USB port or microUSB port and use a cable.
Anyone can learn how to use an XD card reader, including those who don’t normally use digital devices. Simply remove the XD card from the device and placed it in the appropriate slot on the XD card reader. Multi-card readers have slots for different cards so look closely at their labels to find the right one. After the card has been placed in the slot, plug the reader or its cable into a spare USB port on the computer. The operating system should automatically detect the reader and show the contents of the card in the file manager. While it is connected to the computer, the card is treated like any other drive. After completing the file transfers, simply pull the reader out of the USB port and then remove the card.
Like most current technology, the future for the XD card does not look promising. Along with other memory cards, it will probably suffer from the growing dominance and market share of the SD card. Of course, there will always be a large number of people using XD cards with their old digital cameras and other devices, so there will always be need for the XD card reader. The rapid growth of internal memory and wireless technology might even see the demise of all memory cards but that is still many years away. For the present, the XD card reader is an essential gadget that every digital camera user should own.