The humble SD card has come a long way in recent years as cameras and other devices have increased their resolution and processing power. It’s not good taking a burst of 20 MP photos within seconds if you then have to wait for ages for them to save to your memory card. The SD card has had to keep up. How do you quickly store massive video files on a small, compact format, and retain backwards compatibility?
First came SDHC and then SDXC, each increasing the maximum capacity of the card. Alongside that a “class” system was introduced to indicate a minimum transfer speed, with the maximum class 10 providing enough speed for full HD video recording. Eventually this gave way to UHS, or “Ultra High Speed”, cards with even faster speeds, designed for large HD videos
Now with 4K video becoming popular, a real step-change has been required. UHS II (or UHS 2), for the first time, introduces a hardware change – a row of extra pins on the card, below the existing one. UHS II ends up providing a minimum transfer speed 3 times that of UHS 1, whilst retaining backwards compatibility.
And, right now, I have my hands on the Toshiba EXCERIA PRO N101 UHS II memory card. And, unless you look at the pins, it looks like any other memory card, albeit without the whizzy gold and black colour scheme. What sets this card apart though is it’s advertised speed – up to 260 MB/s reading and 240 MB/s writing. That puts it in the same territory as some SSDs, and well above the humble mechanical hard drive.
It’s an SDXC card, so as long as your device supports them this will work, although if it doesn’t support UHS II you’re not going to be seeing the advertised speeds.
So, how does reality match those speeds on the box?
Those sequential read speeds are not far off the advertised speeds and is very, very impressive. The sequential write speed is the FASTEST I’ve tested across any storage, including SSDs, and is how cameras are going to be saving their data. The random write speeds are still very good – SSDs are much faster here, but these certainly beat mechanical drives.
With regard to packaging, you don’t get much. A plastic blister inside an oversized box holds the card inside a standard SD card holder. There are no instructions to speak of and no software included. But why would you want it?
The whole thing comes with a 5 year warranty and the card is x-ray proof too, again adding to the “professional” quality of this product.
For professionals, this really is a must. Blistering speeds, particularly where it matters, ensures that saving those huge 4K videos is not going to drag. Bearing in mind, though, that Toshiba invented Flash memory, this probably shouldn’t be a surprise.
Capacities from 16GB to 128GB are available but I suspect a 64GB capacity is the minimum size you’d need.
To put the speed of an SSD inside a card this small is amazing but, well, you pay for it – this isn’t a cheap card, but neither is this intended for the amateur consumer. This is professional grade equipment – you pay the price but, boy, do you get your money’s worth.
Disclosure of gift - I received this product at a discounted price in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.
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