This Ruggedized Pro Line Features Transfer Rates of Up to 90 MBs, Plus a Longer Shelf Life
The cards themselves have a one-year warranty, something you just don’t get with consumer-level SDHC memory, and list for $60 (8 GB), $129 (16 GB) and
$245 (32 GB). A limited supply is available now, with another shipment coming in late June. Explains Crittenden, “I didn’t realize what a hit these would be with our users and definitely under-ordered.”
The other notable feature that sets these cards apart from their consumer-class cousins? They are exceptionally fast, clocking in with 90 MBs transfer rates that are four-and-a-half times faster than the previous generation. Offload speeds have also been clocked at 90 seconds for the smallest 8 GB card and six minutes for the 32 GB card.
Increased transfer speeds and more file control may be reason enough to start recording with these cards, but the stability and longevity of your media, and the peace of mind that comes with it, are sometimes worth much more. To that end, Panasonic has also added an on-board controller, known as a SICS (Super Intelligent Controller System), which Crittenden says can extend the card’s shelf life-and all the footage on it-by protecting against power failures and more evenly distributing the data writing across the entire piece of media. This way, she says, one area doesn’t become overused and potentially damaged with repeated use. Crittenden and her team will be working with key users to field in the coming months, to see just how far and how long the cards can perform under a variety of normal to more punishing production conditions.
There is a catch, however, to matching those transfer and offload speeds and unlocking Panasonic’s free utility software on your own equipment: you’ve got to have a computer with a USB 3.0 controller and use either Panasonic’s UHS-1 USB adapter (model number BN-SDCMAB) or an SD card slot on the computer that supports UHS-1 SDHC media. While USB 3.0 already exists in Panasonic’s latest Toughbook 53 laptops and is coming soon to new PCs made by HP and others, it’s currently not native on the Mac. On top of that, Apple’s recent adoption of Thunderbolt technology, which combines the PCI Express and DisplayPort interfaces into a single I/O, is widely seen as a move away from the USB 3.0 specification. (Some think Thunderbolt might eventually replace all other existing I/O interfaces, including USB, DVI, FireWire, SCSI and SATA.)
But where there’s a roadblock, there’s likely an adapter. Both CalDigit and LaCie last year released USB 3.0 PCI Express host adapters featuring Mac OS X drivers, thus unlocking MacBook Pros with ExpressCard slots to newer, and future, USB 3.0-based media.
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