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HP PCs - General Information About Memory Cards

This document pertains to HP and Compaq computers with memory card readers and memory cards.

Memory cards are generally used for importing pictures to and from digital cameras, but they can also be very useful for sharing files between other card readers. Think of memory cards as a smaller-sized, higher capacity, more reliable, and faster floppy disk.

About memory card readers

To read and write files on a memory card you must use a card reader. Many HP and Compaq computers come with built-in memory card readers. If your computer does not have a built-in memory card reader, you can easily add an external USB card reader at little cost. One very common function of a card reader is to transfer picture files from a memory card that was used in a digital camera. To read and write files, the card reader must support the type of card you are using. Make sure to get memory cards and card readers that are compatible with each other. Usually the memory card reader lists the card types that are supported next to the slots.

NOTE: Memory card readers are devices that use the Safely Remove Hardware task (this appears as a tray icon next to the time). Do not click Stop in the Safely Remove Hardware window. Doing so disconnects the memory card reader from Windows. If this happens, restart the computer to reinitialize the memory card reader.
NOTE: Not all the HP computers include the same memory card reader. Check the specifications for your computer to know what kind of memory cards it reads.

Figure 1: Example of notebook computer memory card reader

Example of a notebook memory card reader

Figure 2: Example of desktop computer memory card reader

1 - CompactFlash I/II or Microdrive cards reader
2 - Memory Stick and Memory Stick PRO reader
3 - USB 2.0 port


Memory Card Types

Smart Media cards

Figure 3: Smart Media card

SmartMedia cards are removable flash memory cards that can be used in several different types of digital devices, including digital cameras, digital music players, cellular phones, pagers, and digital voice recorders. SmartMedia cards are thinner than a credit card and smaller than a box of matches. The SmartMedia data format is based on the ATA and DOS file standard.

They are simply memory that has been laminated on a plastic card.

Secure Digital cards

Figure 4: Secure Digital card

The Digital card is a highly secure and reliable small flash memory card with a mechanical write protection switch.

Other features are:

  • Mechanical Write Protection Switch.

  • High transfer rate for fast copy/download (Average 2 MB/second).

  • High storage capacity.

  • Non-volatile solid-state; no moving parts maximizes battery power. Data is not lost when power is turned off.

  • Low battery consumption to maximize battery life in small portable devices.

  • Operating shock rating of 2,000Gs.

  • Security level complies with both current and future Secure Digital Music Initiative (SDMI) portable device requirements.

SDHC and SDXC memory cards

Secure Digital High Capacity (SDHC) and Secure Digital Extended Capacity (SDXC) are memory cards with greater data capacity than the standard SD cards. When using an SDHC or SDXC card, make sure the card reader specifically supports the format for the card being used. For example, an SDXC memory card must only be used with an SDXC compatible USB reader or adapter. Look for the corresponding SDXC logo on the device or check the with the device manufacturer for specific information.

CAUTION: SDXC memory cards must only be used with SDXC devices and should never be used in non-compatible devices. Doing so will make the memory card incompatible with SDXC devices because it will erase the data on the SDXC memory card and format the card for a different file system.

CompactFlash cards (I, II, and Microdrive)

Figure 5: CompactFlash card

CompactFlash cards are ideal for a broad range of applications, from mobile PC, and PDAs to embedded systems. The Silicon Disk cards offer a rugged system for increasing the available amount of portable memory storage available of PC Card compatible computers. The Cards Comply with type I format.

Other features are as follows:

  • Ultra fast up to 9 MB/second data transfer rate.

  • Available in Standard Speed 13X, Ultra Speed 30X and Industrial Formats.

  • The cards utilize Flash technology and use 512 Kb sector erase chips.

  • The cards are compatible with both 3.3V and 5V operation.

  • The cards are fully compatible with DOS, Windows, OS/2, NEC OS, DOS V, GEOS, PSOS and Apple System 7.

This card is perfect for photographers who require high-performance cards to quickly shoot many high-resolution images; ideal for photos of moving cars or trains, sporting events, sprinting animals or any other event that requires fast snapshot and recovery time. In advanced cameras, these cards have been developed to save large image files to the card as quickly as possible so the camera is ready to take the next picture.

CAUTION: Compact Flash III cards are currently not supported by HP computers.

Memory stick

Figure 6: Memory stick

This memory card with thin design is ideal for use in small digital AV electronics products, such as camcorders, and digital still cameras. Memory sticks are high capacity and high performance memory cards. They are ideal for digital cameras and digital music players.

Other features are as follows:
  • Average transfer rate: Read 2.45 MB/second, Write 1.5 MB/second

  • Power Consumption: Average 45mA, standby 130uA

  • Secure Protection of Commercial & Copyright Content

CAUTION: Memory stick DUO cards are currently not supported by all HP computers.

Memory Stick PRO

Figure 7: Memory Stick PRO

The Memory Stick PRO format was created as the best way of recording continuous real-time, high capacity, and high-resolution moving images. Memory Stick PRO has a maximum transfer speed of 160 Mbps and a minimum write speed of 15 Mbps as a format standard, which enables continuous real-time recording of high-resolution moving images. That minimum write speed makes it possible to create better moving image recording devices capable of preventing data loss in case of sudden power loss or removal of the media during file recording.

The MagicGate copyright protection technology provides secure protection for commercial and copyrighted content. By fully utilizing an embedded intelligent controller unit, the Memory Stick PRO format also enables prevention of third-party access to personal data.

The Memory Stick PRO cards have a Mechanical Write-Protect Switch to prevent the loss of data.

CAUTION: Memory stick PRO DUO cards are currently not supported by all HP computers.


Memory Card comparisons

Number of Pins
45 mm (1.77 inches)
37 mm (1.46 inches)
0.76 mm (0.03 inch)
Secure Digital
32 mm (1.26 inches)
24 mm (0.94 inch)
2.1 mm (0.08 inch)
Memory Stick / MS PRO
50 mm (2 inches)
21.45 mm (0.84 inch)
2.8 mm (0.1 inch)
CompactFlash I & II
41 mm (1.6 inches)
36 mm (1.4 inches)
3 - 5 mm (0.13 - 0.19 inch)


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