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DESCRIPTION:

The xD-Picture Card is a type of flash memory memory card. xD stands for extreme digital.
It was developed by Olympus and Fujifilm, who introduced it to the market in July 2002. The Toshiba Corporation manufactures the cards for Olympus and Fujifilm. Other brands, including Kodak, SanDisk, and Lexar, now sell xD cards.

xD cards are used in Olympus, Kodak and Fujifilm digital cameras. Currently they are available in these capacities: 16MB, 32MB, 64MB, 128MB, 256MB, 512MB and 1GB (Type M). An xD card is 20mm × 25mm × 1.78mm and weighs 2.8 grams. The 16MB and 32MB models write at 1.3mb/s and read at 5mb/s. The 64MB, 128MB, 256MB and 512MB models write at 3mb/s and read at 5mb/s. The 1GB (Type M) model writes at 2.5mb/s and reads at 4.0mb/s.

The Type M was released in 2005. It uses Multi Level Cell (MLC) architecture to achieve higher storage capacity than the 512MB. Although Type M capacity will eventually stretch to 8GB, the 1GB card is currently the only card in this range. The Type M suffers some compatability issues with older cameras (especially video recording) and marginally slower readwrite speeds than the 512MB card.


Pictures are transferred from the xD card to computer by plugging the camera into the PC (normally with USB) or removing the card and putting it into a card reader. In both these cases, the computer sees the card as a mass storage device with photos on it, although software or firmware can alter this. Card readers may be integrated into the PC or attached by cable. Adapters are available to allow an xD picture card to be plugged into other readers (and in some cases cameras), including PCMCIA, parallel port, CompactFlash and Smart Media.

Olympus branded xD cards are the only ones to support Olympus' panoramic function. Although they store data identically, this is an attempt by Olympus to sell more cards. As of 2005, some Olympus cameras use CF in addition to xD, though support is tapering. Never format, copy files to or erase pictures from a xD card via a card readerwriter connected to a computer, only do so via the camera. xD-Picture cards are specially formatted with certain proprietary tags and flags. Formatting or otherwise altering the contents of the card via a card readerwriter connected to a computer will render the card unusable in a camera or erase the special Olympus signature to enable panoramic mode. The detail specification for xD cards (needed to implement their use) is tightly controlled by Olympus and Fujifilm. Because of limited usage in products category other than digital camera as of 2005, xD has been losing ground to SD, which is broadly used by PDAs, digital audio players, and most other digital camera manufacturers.

 
COMPARISON WITH OTHER FORMATS:

These are only general trends, as there are many formats of cards, many different brands and many different capacities. For more detail on other formats go to their Wikipedia entry.

The xD format primarily competes with formats such as Secure Digital Card (SD), CompactFlash (CF), and Sony Memory Sticks.

Advantages

  • xD cards are fast in comparison with older formats such as SmartMedia (SM), MultiMediaCard (MMC) and MemoryStick (MS).
  • xD cards have a small form-factor in comparison with other formats.

Disadvantages

  • xD cards have a fairly small theoretical maximum capacity in comparison with other formats.
  • xD cards are much slower than the main competitor SecureDigital (SD).
  • xD cards are generally more expensive than cards of other formats.
  • xD cards are less widely supported than many other formats, both by camera, reader and accessory manufacturers.
  • xD card is a proprietary format only used by Fujifilm and Olympus, much like Memory Stick is with Sony. This means that no public documentation or implementation is available. Compare this to the somewhat open SD, or the completely open CompactFlash standard.
 
 
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