17 December 2004

Review: SanDisk Extreme Compact Flash cards

Sandisk Extreme CF cardsIt's pushing 100°F in the Adelaide shade today. In nine days I'll be on a plane heading for Poland and I'm likely to see sub-zero temperatures. Those sort of temperature extremes take a toll on digital devices, and memory cards can be particularly vulnerable.

SanDisk have responded to this challenge with their 'Extreme' range of memory cards. Not only are they tested in temperatures ranging from -13 to +185°F, they are all shock and vibration resistant. This is achieved by coating all the innards with a layer of silicone which SanDisk call 'industrial strength RTV'. That stands for Room Temperature Vulcanised, by the way, and is the only significant difference between the Extreme Cards and the slightly less pricey SanDisk Ultra II range.

So are they any good? Based on the evidence of my 512 Mb Compact Flash (CF) card, the answer is a resounding 'yes'. This is the fastest CF card I have used and has performed without a hiccup so far. The silicone coating and temperature rating certainly give me a nice warm feeling, although I have to admit I've never seen a CF card fail except by rank carelessness during insertion (not by me, I hasten to add).

Cards in the Extreme range will set you back about twice the price of equivalent 'ordinary' cards and are available in sizes up to 4 Gig. If you work in strange environments or are simply concerned about having the most reliable cards available, then they're a no-brainer. I'd still recommend buying two cards half the size you need rather than one huge one. That way you can keep shooting if one fails or disappears. And although these cards are fast, SanDisk have just released the Extreme III range which are faster still for only a few more dollars.

QUALITY: 5 blackpuddings VALUE: 3 blackpuddings
VERDICT: Pricey, but fast, and the only choice if data integrity is important to you or you work in extreme conditions. Get an Extreme III if you really need speed.Go to eebahgum!

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