When Sony announced the Memory Stick PRO format, it said the NX series and the NZ90 would need a software patch to make use of them. The recently-released TG50 also needs this patch. The first Memory Stick PRO cards are now available so many are wondering when this patch will be available.
According to a company spokesperson, this patch will be released in mid-April, just a couple weeks from now.
However, people who already have the cards have found a way to use them without the patch. Memory Stick PRO cards come in FAT32 format. Without the patch, Clie models can use the card for transferring data like files and applications but streaming data only works for a few seconds. This makes it impossible to use the card for MP3s, video, etc. However, if the card is reformatted to FAT16, this limitation disappears.
As expected, users have experienced a noticeable speed increase with the new cards. One reported that doing a full backup of his NX70V took 4 minutes and 30 seconds with a regular 128 MB MagicGate Memory Stick and just 2 minutes on a 1 GB Memory Stick PRO card. It’s possible that the patch will increase this speed even more.
Of course, there are some drawbacks to this workaround. FAT32 uses a smaller block size so reformatting it to FAT16 will reduce the amount of data that can be stored on it. Also, it will probably be necessary to reformat the card back to FAT32 in order to use the patch when it is released. But this workaround does allow people who have already bought Memory Stick PRO cards to begin using them immediately.
About Memory Stick PRO
Memory Stick PRO cards transfer data significantly faster than regular Memory Sticks and this new format has a maximum capacity of 32 GB, though cards of this size won’t be available for a long time. Regular Memory Stick cards top out at 128 MB.
Unfortunately, the new format is not compatible with all Clie handhelds. Palm OS 4 models will not be able to use these cards.
The first Memory Stick PRO cards come in three sizes. SonyStyle is offering a 256 MB one at $150, a 512 MB one at $320, and a 1 GB one at $640. Of course, other companies have them for less. For example, both eCost and PC Mall list the 1 GB card for $500.
Thanks to Eugene for his help with this article.