Monday, September 22, 2008

SanDisk Loads up microSD Cards with Music

SanDisk has developed a logical means of music distribution: microSD memory cards that come pre-loaded with music. Aptly named slotMusic, the cards will include DRM-free tunes from major record labels like EMI, Sony BMG, Universal, and Warner.

I've always been a fan of the flash memory card format, mainly due to its versatility and convenience. They sort of remind me of mini versions of the 3.5mm floppy discs of yesteryear, in that you can buy them pre-loaded, or load a bunch of data onto them, then access said data by inserting the square-shaped device into your PC. Except with flash memory, you can instantly access the data through a host of other devices as well: an MP3 player, a cell phone, a portable navigation device, a voice recorder, a digital photo frame, an SD card-enabled TV or car stereo system: essentially any digital card reader of any kind. The slotMusic cards will come with a small USB adapter to connect them directly to the PC, but I'm surprised that they won't come with SD card adapters, which allow you to insert them into larger, SD card-enabled devices (e.g. a digital camera).

One of the first questions that came to mind when I heard about this product was whether you'd be able to load your own songs onto the card as well. The answer is yes, you can. Each card is 1 GB in capacity, and tunes already loaded onto them will play back at 320 kbps. A really neat addition, however, is that the cards not only store the audio tracks, but also liner notes, album art, videos, and other creative content selected by the artist.

While the concept makes sense, and I'd totally be on board for it, there are some things to consider. First, if you have a Sony Ericsson mobile phone or other portable Sony device, you're likely out of luck since they use the Memory Stick media format. If you have an iPod, you're also not interested in this format since iPods (sadly) don't have memory card slots.

Another concern is the fact that microSD memory cards are tiny and therefore much easier to lose than a CD. While this wouldn't be a major setback with those old 16 and 32 MB cards that were the norm, today's 8 and 16 GB cards can easily hold someone's entire music collection. Would I entrust a small card like that with all my music, even if it were slotted into a postage stamp-sized SD adapter? I'm not sure. But it is something to consider if you're prone to misplacing things.

One thing's for sure: if SD cards continue to become more and more ubiquitous, you can bet your bottom dollar there will be a ton of them floating around pockets, purses, and wallets. If I were an accessory manufacturer, I'd be jumping on this opportunity to design a whole whack of neat, secure, and fashionable microSD memory card holders that can accomodate multiple cards, and fit into a wallet or purse. These may become the way of the future.

Availability and pricing for SanDisk's slotMusic cards will be announced in time for the holiday season; and they will initially be available through Best Buy and Wal-Mart stores in the U.S., with Europe to follow.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This is the next logical step in media. The fact that they can be lost is the reason that the record industry might actually go with this format.