Panasonic pushes SDHC to capacity

CES 2008: Up to 8 hours of HDTV on a postage stamp

We've seen prototypes of 32GB SDHC flash cards before, but this is the first with a speed rating of 6MB/sec and a data transfer rate of up to 20MB/s. It's the first prototype to push SDHC technology to its theoretical maximum capacity and performance.

Panasonic - one of the three big backers of Secure Digital technology, along with SanDisk and Toshiba - finalised specifications for the improved SDHC format in 2006.

Pushing the envelope

The original SD format could reach 2GB capacity on a standard-size SD Memory Card. SDHC updates the file system from a FAT12/16 to FAT32, making capacities of up to 32GB possible.

With a usable capacity just shy of 31GB, this new prototype could record about 8 hours of 1440 x 1080i high-definition video (and about 5 hours 1920 x 1080i, if you're interested). Or, to put it another way, you could just about get the Lord of the Rings trilogy in all it's glory on a card the size of a postage stamp. (Just what you've always wanted!)

We don't have prices yet - no surprise, it'll be expensive - but the new card should be available by the summer, in the US at least. Currently the maximum SDHC card size in the shopping malls is 16GB.

It's good news for amateur videographers more than anyone else. Panasonic has also announced two new compact HD camcorders that work with SDHC cards, and its new Viera range of big tellys will have built-in SD card slots for direct playback of photos and videos.

It's all a little bit more inter-connected than in 2007. Baby steps, baby steps.