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Sandisk makes you pay the price for speeding

First INQpressions Sandisk Ultra II 4GB MS Pro Duo
Wed Jan 10 2007, 18:06

Product: SanDisk Ultra II 4GB Memory Stick Pro Duo
Website: WWW.SANDISK.COM
System Requirements: MS Pro Duo compatible device
Price: €120, £100, $140

SANDISK HAS made a name for itself as one of biggest brands in mobile memory, amongst other things. So much so that the 64MB Memory Stick Pro Duo that ships with the Sony Ericsson P990i mobile phone is supplied by Sandisk rather than Sony, who after all only implemented the design.

Having decided that 64MB of extra memory was about as useful as something that isn't very useful we went hunting for more space, settling finally on Sandisk's Ultra II 4GB card.

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All packaged up

After shredding fingers to the bone we finally managed to make enough of a hole in the ridiculous heat-sealed bullet-proof plastic to dig out the card itself and begin testing.

The Ultra II is Sandisk's high speed version of the card format and it is about 15 to 20 percent more expensive than the standard card of the same capacity, But, as our tests prove, it's at least 50 percent faster. We decided that rather than pit the new card against the measly 64MB card we got with the phone we would use a 512MB card that was living in the PSP.

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The two cards side by side and the card reader used for testing

Benchmarking involved firing up Simpli Software's trusty tool HD Tach 3.0 and running both cards a few times over using the 'Long Bench' setting. Happily the results were consistent with the Ultra II card scoring an average sequential read speed of 15.8MB/s compared to just 10.2MB/s from the standard one.

Similarly, the burst speed came out at 16.5MB/s versus 10.8MB/s respectively. The truly astonishing result was the random access test where the Ultra II came out with a blisteringly fast 1.1ms compared to the 12.6ms proffered by the 512MB card. As previously mentioned we reran these tests several times over to make sure it wasn't some strange glitch, but came with the same result every time. Real world usage bore out similar results with file copying being around 40 percent faster with Ultra II card.

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HD Tach 3.0 benchmark results: Blue is the 4GB and Red is the 512MB card

In Short
The short answer is, if you need a memory card buy SD. But if for some reason you absolutely have to get an MS Pro Duo Card then you really needn't bother looking past Sandisk, they offer top quality memory at decent prices. Is the Ultra II version worth the extra money? Well, if you aren't going to be transferring data around the place very often then maybe not, but if you constantly shunting stuff backwards and forwards you'll quickly come to appreciate the jump in speed. ?

The Good
Excellent read and write speeds
4GB should meet most people's needs

The Bad
Significantly more expensive than the standard version
Most expensive memory format around

The Ugly
The industry should have settled on just one memory card format by now

Bartender's Report
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