Shortly after the release of the Treo 680, there was some buzz about a possible — yet not documented — support for Secure Digital memory cards larger than 2 GB (commonly referred to as Secure Digital High Capacity or SDHC).
Many users reported on this after a few people found out that their 4 GB SDHC cards worked in the Treo 680.
The issue become an even hotter topic after the quiet release of an 8 GB SDHC memory card by Transcend and others, and an accompanying low price in the area of $60.
I took a chance on a Transend 8GB SDHC card purchased at NewEgg and can report that not only does the SDHC card work, but it works very well.
So What Is the Issue?
The reason I’m making such a big deal out of this is because no Palm employee or official document ever stated that Garnet (Palm) OS Treo devices support anything larger than the normal 2 GB SD card.
Much like the taxi cab easter egg, the support of SDHC cards for Treo 680 users has been a secret — yet positive — note in using the device.
The Good and the Bad
Despite all the positive reports, not all users are reporting success with SDHC cards.
Some cards have worked for a time and then quit unexpectedly. Some users have found that they can use the larger SDHC cards, but the Card Info application will report that 4 GB is the maximum size, and also the max that the device will format.
That’s why I advise that you proceed with caution when using unsupported hardware with your device. It can cause unexpected performance, loss of data, or other problems that may not be easily fixed.
Despite the risks, myself and others have purchased SDHC cards and have had a positive experience. For my $60, I was able to turn my Treo 680 into a viable Apple iPhone alternative without waiting until June or leaving an unfamiliar platform. SDHC support in the Treo 680 and other Palm devices will go a long way to keeping Palm at the forefront of consumer’s minds when looking at the total value of Palm products versus the competition.
And with the Treo 680 at under $200 and a $60 8 GB SDHC card, that is a very attractive purchase compared to getting a 8 GB Nano/Zen MP3 player and another smartphone.
More Information about SD versus SDHC
The original SD card format is limited to 2 GB of storage. That’s why the SD Card Association developed the SDHC (Secure Digital High Capacity) format, which has the potential for much higher capacities.
Although standard SD and SDHC cards look identical in size and shape, only SDHC-compatible products are able to accept cards using the new format. This is because the original SD format uses a "Byte Addressing" scheme, while the new format adopts a "Sector Addressing" scheme.
Basically, this means that SDHC cards will be faster and more DRM (digital rights management) friendly, while maintaining a small physical size and increasing energy efficiency.