Choosing memory cards, THX receiver and speaker selection

Week of October 12, 2003

Q:   I just bought a 4 megapixel digital camera.   Pictures take up 2 MB each and it came with a 32 MB memory card, so I can only take 16 pictures at a time.  

Next month I am going to Australia for three weeks and want to take a lot of pictures.   I am thinking of buying a 512 MB memory card, which will hold around 250 pictures, which is about the right amount from my trip.   Who makes the best brand of 512 MB Compact Flash Memory card?

-C. Kreutz, Atlantic City, NJ

A:   Before we discuss brand names, I think we should review your purchasing strategy in terms of the size of card you should buy.

You have probably heard the old adage, “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket”.   The saying is not only valid in life, but in purchasing memory cards for your digital camera.

High-capacity memory cards over 256 MB are usually purchased by professional and hobbyist photographers who take lots of pictures and have high-resolution cameras that that take up more than 2 MB per picture. These serious photographers typically own many memory cards, not one very large one and one small one.

You can certainly purchase a 512MB memory card and use it with your camera, but there are some ramifications you should consider first.  

What if the card is defective and it stops working halfway through your trip?   Not only will you be unable to take pictures, you will probably lose all the pictures already recorded on the card.

What if you lose the card?   It can happen to the best of us.   All of your pictures are gone.

Suppose you want to have some prints made while you are in Australia, and leave the card at a processing center.   You may want to take some pictures in the meantime, before you go back to pick up your card and the prints.   With your remaining 32 MB card, you will only be able to take 16 pictures.

What if you want to show someone picture #125 on your 512 MB card?   Depending on the camera, you may have to push the advance button 124 times before the picture pops up on the camera’s display.

As you can probably see by now, maybe that 512 MB card is not such a great idea.   You know you need 512 MB worth of memory- why not get a 256 MB card and two 128 MB cards instead?   It will cost about fifteen percent more to buy three separate cards, but at current market prices this is only around $25.   Your extra $25 will gain your digital photography setup a lot more flexibility and security.

As far as brand recommendations, Sandisk and Lexar are proven, reliable brands. Whatever you buy, make sure the card has a lifetime warranty.   Some cards are only guaranteed for one year.   Don’t settle!
Q:   A salesman told me that I must have THX speakers if I buy a receiver that is THX.   He says non-THX speakers like the ones I own will not work.   Is this true?

-Ashish Bhursan, Chicago, IL

A:   No, it is not true.   THX equipment will work with non-THX equipment.

Products bearing the THX symbol have passed a series of tests designated by THX, a part of George Lucas’ Lucasfilm organization. While a THX-certified product is likely to offer excellent performance, there are many excellent products that could easily pass the THX tests but are not THX certified.   Some manufacturers don’t agree with the THX criteria, or simply don’t bother with getting their equipment certified.

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