Portable media has put pictures, videos, movies, and other files on the move in the 21st century. After the SD card was unleashed, one fact became clear: although it was a marvelous advent, it was still too large for portable electronics. And so the miniSD format was made suitable to supplement various devices’ built-in memory. For instance, some MP3 players may come with an expandable memory slot, upgrading it from 512MB to 2GB. In terms of its size, a miniSD memory card has a clear advantage, because it’s nearly half the size of SD cards. Measuring just 20×21.5×1.4mm, it was designed elegantly, for use in medium-sized handheld devices like voice recorders, cameras and video recorders.
When the SD Association established the miniSD brand in 2003, little could be predicted about its success. There was a demand for smaller memory chips, but would miniSD win? Because the SD Association had previous experience in such non-volatile flash media formats, launching it wasn’t a problem; the Association already had connections with large companies that manufactured various SD-compatible electronics, which quickly adapted to miniSD memory cards. The main advantage of miniSD over SD was its size, and it even lacked a write protect switch, but technologically they were nearly identical; fears of redundancy made room for doubt in its success. The result? Today, a tiny, 32GB miniSD memory card can fit over 545 hours of 128Kbps music on it.
The card’s SD socket is an electro-mechanical adapter with 11 pins and a narrow, short, thin form. All cards support 1-bit mode, and some support 4-bit mode; 8-bit mode is not available with miniSD cards. Data transfer is done at 100Mbit/sec and 25Mbit/sec in SPI (Serial Peripheral Interface) bus. Access control can be managed via DRM, however the functionality for user encryption wasn’t implemented. MiniSD is open-source compatible. A miniSD card works at 2.7-3.6V of electricity; regular ones come in various capacities not exceeding 2GB, and High Capacity miniSD memory cards are available between 4 and 32GB. You can fit two full feature, high-definition movies on a 32GB miniSD. Even a 2GB card can fit over 700 10MP high quality photos! Besides expanding your memory capabilities, a device that supports miniSD offers you quicker speeds and higher data transfer rates than typical built-in flash memory.
The format is now 10 years old; at the 2010 CES, SD celebrated its anniversary, and released the following statement that outlines their plans for the future:
“With an estimated 2.5 billion SD memory cards shipped, SD is now the worldleading de facto interface of removable media. During the past 10 years, the SD Association shepherded SD technology from an upstart in the then-highly fragmented removable media market to a leader with nearly 80 percent market share today. The first SD memory cards offered a then-amazing 8 megabytes of storage capacity in the size of a postage stamp, while the latest specification, SDXC, will enter the market at 64 GB, an 8,000 times capacity increase over the first SD memory cards, and scaling up to 2 terabytes of storage in capacity.”
The use of miniSD quickly spread to devices like GPS navigators, printers, electronic book readers, DVRs, and even video game systems. Because it was essentially the same thing as SD, a simple adapter turns any miniSD into a regular SD card. Before buying an electronic device that allows you to expand the memory with a memory card, make sure it’s an SD, a miniSD, or a microSD card; other formats include CompactFlash and Memory Stick, but those cards are bulkier in size. If you already have a camera, a camcorder, a digital voice recorder, or another device with a memory card, and you’re not sure what format it is, consult with your manual or look it up online.