Quickies: 1GB SD, Weblink, Monsta, LAPUG, PalmGSM & More

Matsushita Co. (Panasonic) has unveiled a working prototype of a SD (Secure Digital) memory card with a 1 Giga byte capacity. The card is expected to go on sale a year from now. It will be the first to use a higher 20M bps transfer rate (10x the speed of current 128mb cards). -robrecht

PalmSource announced they are working with Weblink Wireless to enable wireless e-mail, text messaging and mobile Internet access via WebLink's ReFLEX(R) network to wireless messaging devices running Palm OS 5.

The ReFLEX 25 platform offers exceptional coverage, higher signal strength and in-building penetration, providing enterprises with "always on" access to mission critical information and long lasting device battery life. ReFLEX enables two-way messaging by adding a response channel to a traditional paging system, allowing carriers to provide two-way messaging at a competitive cost. The messaging and email capabilities provided by the ReFLEX network will enhance the Palm OS's existing wireless capabilities, which include support for Bluetooth, GSM, CDMA, 2.5G/3G networks and, in Palm OS 5, 802.11 solutions at the system level.

iNDUSTRY Entertainment has just released several screenshots from thier upcoming game called Monsta. -Nemanja Bondzulic

The next meeting of the Los Angeles Palm User Group (LAPUG) will be on Saturday, October 12th, 2002 at Border's Books + Music at 1360 Westwood Blvd. It's just a couple of blocks north of Santa Monica Blvd. We'll be upstairs in the meeting area located within the Music Department - close to the Coffee Shop! -Russell Howell

PalmGSM.net has released a new products for Handspring Treo, a Treo ringtone collection and Treo ringtone collection II. According to PalmGSM.net, the collections contains over 1000 ringtones separated on 22 categories. -Savin

The new version 3.0 of FastCPU now supports overclocking the Sony NR series up to 99Mhz, and has a new UI with high-res+ support. -Paul Campbell

PalmInfocenter will be attending the Microsoft Mobius (PPC, Smartphone and Tablet PC) conference this weekend in Redmond. If anyone has any specific questions or things they may want covered, let me know and I will see what I can do. -Ryan

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Wenda @ 10/9/2002 10:51:55 AM #
Where's the 1 Gb Memory Stick dude?

Nothing to kill or die for.
Admin @ 10/9/2002 11:01:27 AM #
Sony mentioned back in the summer that they *hoped* to have them available by the end of '02...


nmateiro @ 10/9/2002 11:12:52 AM #
I think it is in Never, Never Land. A 1GB Magic Gate maybe...

Wenda @ 10/9/2002 11:21:57 AM #
I don't want the white colour one. I want the blue one.

Nothing to kill or die for.
hkklife @ 10/9/2002 11:23:39 AM #
Now, this new SD card is intriguing not only because of the large capacity, but the increased transfer rate. Does anyone know if legacy Palm devices (ie my m505) and current digicams (ie my Minolta F100) and other existing peripherals (my Dazzle SD reader etc) can utilize/benefit from this faster rate?

Furthermore, and I've been seeking an answer to this question for over a year now: is the maximum size of SD card that a device can use determined by the device itself or by the controller onboard the SD card?

I originally read that the m500 and 505 could handle cards up to 64 mb in size. Now I have heard that OS 4.1 devices can handle cards up to 256 mb in size. I have come very close to ordering a new 256 mb card but I'm honestly hesitant due to worries about a situation like the Smartmedia devices have experienced-the cards now go up to 128 mb but many devices (such as my old Olympus digicam) are either limited to 32 or 64 mb cards (unless the rare firmware update is provided, like with Creative's Nomad Mp3 players).

I recall a semi-helpful discussion a few months back on PIC when the first 256 and 523 mb cards hit the market but no one was able to dig up a solid answer. Ed was going to try and check with his sources to see if there was a difference in the sizes supported by OS 4, 4.1, and OS 5 Palms.

Despite its numerous limitations, that's at least one good aspect of the Memory Stick-Sony has managed to do a good job ensuring that the earliest peripherals can use the larger capacity sticks.

HandyMan @ 10/9/2002 11:32:10 AM #
That's the first thing I thought when I saw that 1GB SD are available. Where are the larger than 128MB MS? It's obvious that it isn't because of physical limitations because an SD card is even smaller than an MS card.

asiayeah @ 10/9/2002 11:53:04 AM #
I am sure the m505 and existing Palm devices (not sure about the Tungsten T) can't take advantage of the potential increased speed. Because the m505 can't take advantage of the full speed of the current SD cards already.

JohnKes @ 10/9/2002 12:34:04 PM #
In reply to hkklife:
Most PalmOS devices have such a slow bus that you can hardly see any benefit between MMC and SD (should be 4x faster).
You won't see any difference using the even faster 1 GB SD.

The controller is on the SD card, so no problems there. For SmartMedia, the controller is on the device. So if
your device is not set up for larger size, it can't use larger SM.

PalmOS 4.0 could only handle 64 MB SD. Palm put out a patch and OS4.1 update to address that. I forget how big
OS4.1 can handle.

chilimost @ 10/9/2002 12:49:38 PM #
I have used the 512MB lexar card in my m515 with no problems. Testing with VFSMark showed it to be significantly faster than my SanDisk 128MB card as well. What I am wondering is if the cards above 128MB are faster due to the controller on the card or is it a difference between manufacturers that accounts for the difference I saw.

Altema @ 10/9/2002 1:41:41 PM #
I'm also curious about the speed differences. My 128Mb Toshiba tested at a final score of 85% with VFSmark, but at the time I assumed that it was due to the benchmark being a 16Mb card instead of 128Mb. It did score 116% on file read though.

I'll have to run some comparison tests when I get home using the 64Mb card from my wife's device and a friend's 16Mb card.

Quick question while we are on cards: A good friend is interested in buying my 128Mb card for his iPaq, but the device would not recognize the card. I can format the card in my PC or my Palm, and it works fine in both (can even run defrag), but not his iPaq. There are native Windows files on the card in addition to Palm-only files. Does PPC require the SD card to be formatted on a PPC before it will work? I'm having dinner with him Sunday, so maybe I'll backup my card and let him try it...

stupidnewpolicy @ 10/9/2002 2:50:11 PM #
A bit off-topic, but has anyone used a larger SD card in their PDA, and also in a dedicated device such as a Digicam, or MP3 player and had any issues with it? I gotta figure Sony has made Memory Stick access pretty much identical across the devices that support it, but what about SD?

I tend to keep a lot of e-books on my SD card in Palm formats, but I am interested in getting one of those USB keydrives that accept MMC/SD flash memory and am concerned about the viability of multi-uses in conjunction with VFS. I figure that most PCs won't have any problems accessing the data, but what about these other types of devices?

I found that moving a lot of files around on the SD while in the Palm (using Filez, SyncWizard, and the native Palm install tool) resulted in corruption oif the file system over time. Not sure what the ultimate culprit was... I'd hate to think that the same could occur by slapping the card into other non-PalmOS devices also. 1GB is a heckuva lot to have to copy back to the card - even at 20MB/s.

Any actual experiences?


hkklife @ 10/9/2002 3:40:29 PM #
I have used/interchanged a variety of SD cards between my Palm and my old Panasonic iPalm digicam. I just got the new Minolta F100 the other day (great camera, btw) and it's worked with a Sandisk 128 mb card (newer non-buggy rev.), a Sandisk 64, a Toshiba 16 meg and a Panasonic 16 meg. I have even taken an SD Card with some Palm files alread on it, shot a few pics with the Panasonic, and then moved the card into the Minolta and shot a few more pics. All 3 units had no problems read/writing to the card and the Minolta's playback mode even showed the pics taken by the Panasonic. Nice.
The Palm, using the latest version of the bundled Photosuite Photoview program, was able to view the images taken by the cameras with no problems either.

On a side note, the Minolta did seem to be slower writing files to a card formatted in the Palm than to the same card after it had been formatted within the camera.

My buddy with a Sony handheld and digicam also says that the camera is slower when using a card shared with his NR70. Hmmm.

Does anyone know if the bus speeds on the OS5 Palms will be increased so as to be able to take advantage of the larger/faster cards?

hkklife @ 10/9/2002 3:48:14 PM #
JohnKes, thanks for the info-but I've still got a few more questions:

If the controller of the SD cards is onboard the card itself, then why are Palm devices limited in the capacities they can recognize (and digicams are not)?

Are Clies limited (in theory) to 128 MemorySticks as well? (assuming Sony ever releases a larger capacity, which I am starting to doube will ever happen).

I have noticed something odd with my 64 meg SD card in my m505 (flashed to OS 4.1). It is about 3/4 filled,
and was formatted about a year ago. It's gotten slower and slower and slower the longer I've been using it. Do you think the filesystem has gotten corrupted or do the access times get worse as the cards get more filled up? Should I back everything up and reformat it, then reload the card?

Thanks for any tips you can offer!

RE: 1GB MS Something about 4 bits
Taqi @ 10/9/2002 5:19:57 PM #
I was researching the issue as I am getting ready to jump ship (confession time) if Tungsten turns out to be Sony-like low battery life etc to Toshiba. I wondered whether the SD card would be faster...

It has something to do with (not too sure what the techy word is) bits, The M505 has a 1 bit sthg to read its SD card (which makes it even slower than a CF card, which is why I now realise my Psion 5MX was faster than my Palm!) anyway the new IPAQs and e740 use 4 bits worth of whatever it is called to access the SD card which has a potential trnasfer speed of 10MB/s. So to the original question, can the M505/515 utilise the super speed super capacity card: no from a speed point of view.

Now just as a caveat, in case a thousand replies follow like bees to honey, I am not a techy and am glad to be corrected.

There is a saying in Persian:

"Neem hakeem khatray jaan"

"Being half a doctor is danger to life"

I hope the above answer doesn't fall into the half baked.


UZI4U182 @ 10/9/2002 7:24:07 PM #
yeah anyway, wheres my 1GB memory stick?! anyway, they are bigger than SD. Sony should have a 5 gig stick b now!

--Devan-- | Email me: UZI4U182@att.net

Webmaster of www.tavern.2ya.com
Palm OS apps, news, reviews and such
Check out the brand new forum!
Proud owner of a Palm m100, Sony CLIÉ PEG-S320, and Sony CLIÉ PEG-SJ30!

useybird @ 10/9/2002 9:11:45 PM #
1GB. How can anybody find enough stuff to fill it?

Burning Desire: The want or need for something great.
Burning THE Zire: A fun recreational activity involving setting Palm's new crappy handheld ablaze.
useybird @ 10/9/2002 9:14:45 PM #
The site says they are working on a 16GB, yes 16GB, card for 2005. How is anyone going afford a $16,000 card? What could you possibly put on it? Every single palm app ever made,thrice. How would they pack 16GB into a postage stamp size plastic card? Just seeing 16GB amazes me beyond belief.

Burning Desire: The want or need for something great.
Burning THE Zire: A fun recreational activity involving setting Palm's new crappy handheld ablaze.
OzziePalmDieHard @ 10/9/2002 10:20:09 PM #
CHrist! My laptop(my main PC), is 20GB and i have only filled like half of that. And it is full of crap.
Imagine if you lost the 16GB card! Well, there goes $5000!

But i would imagine that prices go down as the capacities get higher.

If you really need that much memory, surely a external mini hard drive is much more cost effective...
Maybe a clip on sled? That would be dirt cheap compared to those tiny weany cards.

Oh well, in 20 years time we'll be scoffing at 16GB, because our brand new OS76 will be loaded up with 16 tetrabytes. God bless computers ;)

Several Months Ago at Palm Headquarters;

"Hah! Those sony bastards think that they can beat us in stupid names. The Tungsten T is infinitely more ridiculous than "clie"....."

(1) Capacity and (2) Bandwidth limitations
Palm_Otaku @ 10/10/2002 12:55:19 AM #
This is off the top of my head, so forgive the lack of detail (and any possible errors ;)

(1) If I recall correctly, pre-OS4 the various licensees were rolling their own card support (visors with OS3.5H, clies with OS3.5S, trg/handera with OS3.5H). OS4 integrated parts of these into the "standardized" VFS system for memory card support. There was a problem accessing data (or moving files or something) on cards >32MB and the FATFS.pdb patch was released to fix that. The FATFS is integrated into OS4.1 and in general, large capacity cards are no longer an issue.

(2) In terms of memory card bandwidth part of the issue is the bus. I recall seeing a chart (on SanDisk's site?) that showed theoretical maximum read rates something like this:

Speed Lines Capacity
----- ----- --------
2.5 MB/s 1 up to 128MB
5 MB/s 2 [not used?]
10 MB/s 4 256, 512 MB

I didn't see any technical info on how 20MB/s is achieved on the Panasonic 1GB SD cards (something other than #lines?) Memory Stick read/write bus speed is also 2.5MB/s and 1 line but their higher capacity cards (whenever they come out...) are supposed to also support bus speeds up to to 20MB/s .

Anyways, most SD-capable devices, including the current Palms use 1 data line. A few of the newest PPCs apparently support 4-line. There's no publicly available info on the Tungsten line, but hopefully they'll have 4-line bus support too.

The bus is only part of the bandwidth story, and experience shows that data read/write doesn't meet the theoretical bus maximums.

[note: the SD card association www.sdcard.org won't provide specs unless you're a member (at $1500 / year!) so the details aren't easy to come by. Contrast to www.memorystick.org]

kev @ 10/10/2002 10:20:54 AM #
This is how i'd fill up a 1GB memory stick, or a 16GB whatever card: my mp3 collection.

nuff said

agunn @ 10/10/2002 12:52:44 PM #
> The site says they are working on a 16GB, yes 16GB,
> card for 2005. [...] What could you possibly put on
> it?

I remember, about ten years ago, thinking a friend of mine was crazy because he bought an 80meg HD for his computer. What on earth would a person do with 80meg? Now you couldn't even install an operating system on it. Unless it was the Paml OS of course :-)

I carry a lot of books and legal documents on my Palm. With 16GB I could have a complete legal library, along with quite a few pictures/movies of family, all in the palm of my hand.

ganoe @ 10/10/2002 12:57:01 PM #
"[note: the SD card association www.sdcard.org won't provide specs unless you're a member (at $1500 / year!) so the details aren't easy to come by. Contrast to www.memorystick.org]"

It's $1000 a year, and it contrasts quite nicely to Sony's $4000+ a year license fees.

Palm_Otaku @ 10/10/2002 2:19:22 PM #
ganoe: It's $1000 a year, and it contrasts quite nicely to Sony's $4000+ a year license fees.

I was referring to the amount of information that is publicly available (i.e. free).

Also, the last time I looked at www.sdcard.org/join.htm it showed "General" membership at $1500/yr and "Executive" at $4k/yr.

- Dan

ganoe @ 10/10/2002 2:50:07 PM #
> the last time I looked at www.sdcard.org/join.htm it showed
> "General" membership at $1500/yr and "Executive" at $4k/yr.

"Membership" has to do with being a member of the association, going to meetings, being able to provide input on the spec and its future, general upkeep of the association, and all the related hoopla. There is no equivalent on the Memory Stick side of things, since Memory Stick is Sony proprietary.

If you want to make SD cards, there is a $1000/year license fee. For Memory Stick it is something like $4000/year, Magic Gate cards have a different license fee plus royalties.

Here are some "free" specs if that makes you happy.

M3wThr33 @ 10/10/2002 3:43:36 PM #
Yeah, I'm with Kev on this. I'm hoping to get the Kyocera 7135 and that 1GB will probably hold a good amount of my songs. More than my current Rio PMP300 with 32mb onboard with the )(*$^)$(^*_#$^*($#)*$*(#_$^($^_#('n 32mb SM card.... THEY LIED ON THE BOX SAYING IT SUPPORTED UP TO 128! Sorry, I'll calm down.

I don't think you understand the gravity of the situation. We're in space.
Palm_Otaku @ 10/10/2002 3:48:52 PM #

Thanks for clarifying that and particularly for providing the link to the simplified physical layer spec. Having that info *does* make me happy! :)

FWIW, I wasn't attempting to imply that one external memory format was superior to another, just voicing my disappointment that I couldn't find any publicly-available specs at sdcard.org -- I certainly wasn't attempting to antagonize you!


- Dan

ganoe @ 10/10/2002 4:04:00 PM #
> just voicing my disappointment that I couldn't find any
> publicly-available specs at sdcard.org

I'm not sure what the reason for that is. A couple dumb guesses are that: 1. by posting specs, they open themselves up to even more questions from "anybody off the street" who hasn't paid to get answers or 2. there is info in the specs that is somehow under NDA. Some better info on SDIO certainly needs to be available.

I would speculate that if someone was serious about developing SD cards and asked they could probably get more detailed spec information before paying.

stupidnewpolicy @ 10/10/2002 11:35:48 PM #
Like the user above, I carry a lot of books with me. I like to be able to use the Palm for reference in meetings.

I would think that the 16GB option would be useful for inventory databases - like in a grocery store. Add an SD barcode reader or barcode scanning sled and you could cross-reference the UPC, weight, prices, etc of every item in the store, as well as store the inventory you are taking - maybe even a couple of them which could then be compared.

Granted, the WiFi barcode scanners they have now, linking to a back-end database server elsewhere in the store (such as they use now) is probably a better solution, and more practical. But it IS one example of why to bother with a 16GB card.


cbulock @ 10/11/2002 1:51:26 AM #
The big thing about 1BG and even 16GB cards is that OS5 is turning PDAs into more of a media device. The Clie's have done this for a while now, but they need more space. With the NX70V having built-in support for MP3 and MPEG4 video, i'm sure we will see the Pocket Divx player ported over soon enough. A 1GB card will only hold at most two movies. And it can easily be filled with an MP3 collection. It will be nice when you will be able to carry your entire MP3 collection, all of your favorite e-books and a nice collection of movies and TV shows all in your pocket. Then we will just need better batteries.

Altema @ 10/11/2002 9:10:09 AM #
"Most PalmOS devices have such a slow bus that you can hardly see any benefit between MMC and SD (should be 4x faster)."

I beg to differ based on experience. The Palm data bus is too slow to take advantage of the full transfer speeds, but there is a drastic speed difference between SD and MMC anyways. I currently have a 16Mb Palm SD, 64Mb SanDisk SD, and a 128Mb Toshiba SD. The 32Mb MMC was was two to three times slower... when launching an app from the MMC card for the first time, I thought the the device had hung as I waited about 10 seconds for an app that usually opens from an SD card in 3. It was cheap, but so much slower that I returned it to the store.

Monsta: 1-player strategic riff on Bomberman

bcombee @ 10/9/2002 12:33:53 PM #
I just looked at the screen shots... it looks like you'll be running around, placing traps, finding stuff, and occasionally exploding bombs to rid the level of the monsters. The bomb explosion is straight from the Bomberman console-game series. Looks fun!

Ben Combee, CodeWarrior for Palm OS technical lead
Programming help at www.palmoswerks.com
RE: Monsta: 1-player strategic riff on Bomberman
helf @ 10/9/2002 4:01:34 PM #
It is fun. I've been playing a beta version :)

But why?

kempokaraterulz @ 10/9/2002 8:14:59 PM #
Currently the only Palm OS PDA's that use sd cards have low res(or QVGA) monocrome or color screens. No mp3 to speak of (yes handera has a real speaker but it isnt a headphone jack). Sooooooo why do you need 1gb of space? to store low res vids and distorted audio? I caould understand the use when the tungston comes out though... But who would buy this now (for a pda)? And why?

Ed Hardy: The best damn palm news editor. Ever.
Ansi soit-il.
RE: But why?
Davy Fields @ 10/9/2002 9:47:55 PM #
You know, Palm is hardly the only company that can use SD cards, and really, this is more for devices like the Tungsten that can actually use it. No, it's not made for some m130 user filling it with a couple dozen hours of 12-bit 160x160 video, it's for the future.

-Davy Fields
RE: But why?
OzziePalmDieHard @ 10/9/2002 10:14:47 PM #
*cough* PocketPCs *cough*

Sorry about that. From now on , it shall be referred to as "You-know-what", Harry Potter style,

never speak the name of the dark lord ;)

Several Months Ago at Palm Headquarters;

"Hah! Those sony bastards think that they can beat us in stupid names. The Tungsten T is infinitely more ridiculous than "clie"....."

RE: But why?
OzziePalmDieHard @ 10/9/2002 10:18:09 PM #
And i forgot, cameras...

Media-type people would use this type of capacities.
Video cameras? I'm not sure how digital videos work....

Several Months Ago at Palm Headquarters;

"Hah! Those sony bastards think that they can beat us in stupid names. The Tungsten T is infinitely more ridiculous than "clie"....."

RE: But why?
kempokaraterulz @ 10/10/2002 6:07:31 AM #
i understandd that they are going to be using in you-know-whats, and in future palms. i was trying to make the ponit that it is a useless thing for current palms

Ed Hardy: The best damn palm news editor. Ever.
Ansi soit-il.
RE: But why?
Altema @ 10/10/2002 11:11:47 AM #
I don't know what I would put on a card that would occupy 1G except for media. My relational databases only take up less than 1Mb each. The big space hog is media, with some files being 5Mb to 20Mb.

What use is video on a 5xx series? Depends if you have a real purpose to video, or if you just want to show off to your friends. For me, it's mostly entertainment like movies I don't have time to watch at home, or a late night stop at a drivethrough (I put it in the gps holder on my dash for the kids to watch). My wife has a more legitimate use when she vists hospitals or prisons, as she can show videos of the kids or relatives of that person. Another use is for her dance videos. If there is a question about a move, she can just pull out her Palm and watch how they did it at the last rehearsal. Of course the audio is the worst point, but it seems to improve with use. The video image is better than you would assume. Most persons have a mental picture how it would look like on whatever device, like two blotches sliding across the screen, but persons that actually see a properly encoded clip are surprised at how good it looks.

RE: But why?
Ricky @ 10/10/2002 2:58:06 PM #
"but persons that actually see a properly encoded clip are surprised at how good it looks."

How would you go about "properly" encoding a file vs. improperly?

RE: But why?
Altema @ 10/10/2002 3:10:11 PM #
"How would you go about "properly" encoding a file vs. improperly?"

When encoding a video, you have to balance between quality, size, and performance. A video clip can be encoded for minimum quality to obtain smaller file size and reduce performance requirements. And we sometimes skimp on the quality when we don't need to do so.

The resulting clip is not really "improper" or wrong, unless you are going use it as a basis for judging a handheld. A clip encoded at 560Kbps will look better than a clip encoded at 320Kbps, even if they are on the same device. Now, taking the low quality clip, putting on a standard res device, and showing it to someone who expects mediocre results will give them what they are expecting, especially if they have already seen a good quality clip on a device with a great screen (Nr/Nx70).

However, if you want better quality, this is not the encoding scheme you would use. The 505 and 515 can play multimedia at 720Kbps and 15Fps with no problems, so the hardware is capable of better than the default settings in Kinoma Player. The results when you up the bitrate, in most cases, are better than expected, and even owners of devices with much better screens are quite surprised.

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