Encrypted USB flash drive (2004 – )

An encrypted USB flash drive is a USB flash drive featuring hardware encryption, and first seems to have appeared in 2004.

There are usually two separate partitions on the drive; one is a read-only partition that contains the encryption software, the other is the secure encrypted partition that is only accessible once the correct password is entered. Most drives use Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) encryption. The drives may have a feature whereby if an incorrect password is entered too many times, the secure partition becomes inaccessible and will need to be reformatted.

As the encryption software is run from the drive itself, nothing needs to be installed on the computer which makes it easier to use than having to install the necessary software on each computer that the drive will be used on, but makes the drive vulnerable if the software no longer runs in newer operating systems.

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Memory Stick Micro (M2) (2006 – 2009)

Memory Stick Micro (M2) was the smallest form factor of the Sony Memory Stick family. It was introduced as a joint venture with SanDisk in 2006 and is just one-quarter of the size of the Memory Stick Duo. Typical uses include PDAs and mobile phones.

Adaptors were available to allow Memory Stick Micro cards to be used in Memory Stick and Memory Stick Duo slots, and Sony produced an M2 to USB adaptor.

Cards were available from 64 MB to 16 GB capacities.

In 2009, Sony announced that Sony Ericsson phones would use microSD cards instead of Memory Stick Micro, and by 2011, the Memory Stick Micro was no longer available on the Sony UK website.

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MQS (2013 – )

Mastering Quality Sound is a term used by the South Korean company Astell&Kern to describe 24-bit high-resolution audio files that use the FLAC format (a lossless compression format). Astell&Kern sell a range of high-end audio players that support a range of audio file types, including high-resolution FLAC files, and the players themselves incorporate microSD card slots.

Music files can be transferred from a computer to the player using microSD or microSDHC memory cards of up to 32 GB, or connecting via cable, but a small number of pre-recorded albums have been released on microSD cards marketed under the name MQS.

MQS microSD cards contains high-resolution audio files in FLAC format and these can be played back on many devices in addition to Astell&Kern’s players, although additional plugins or apps may sometimes be required on other devices. Astell&Kern products support 24-bit high-resolution audio with a sampling rate of up to 192 kHz (though the music on MQS microSD cards varies from 44.1 kHz to 192 kHz depending on the source) and claim that this gives up to 6.5 times the level of detail of a conventional CD-quality audio file.

Pre-recorded music has already been released on microSD cards, both under SanDisk brands such as Gruvi and slotMusic, and also on generic microSD cards. These formats used MP3 files rather than the higher quality FLAC though.

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Secure Digital High Capacity (SDHC) (2006 – )

SDHC (Secure Digital High Capacity) is a variant of Secure Digital offering higher capacity and speed, and was introduced in 2006 as version 2.0 of the SD specification.

Devices that support SDHC cards will still work with standard SD cards, but at slower speeds. However, older devices designed to work with standard SD cards (usually made before 2007) will not usually work with SDHC cards.

Standard SD cards are available up to 2 GB, whereas SDHC cards are able to offer up to 32 GB.

SDHC cards are rated for speed, with Class 2, 4, 6, and 10 available. The class number relates to the MB per second write speed, so a Class 10 card should offer a minimum of 10 MB/second. Some devices may specify a minimum card speed requirement.

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Gizmondo card (2005 – 2006)

The Gizmondo was a seventh generation handheld video game console released by Tiger Telematics in 2005 in the UK, Sweden and the US.

It had advanced features not found on other handhelds at the time, such as a camera, Bluetooth and GPS. It ran on Windows CE 4.2.

It could be bought with ‘Smart Adds’ (which meant adverts were shown on the device at random intervals on the home screen) or for a higher price it could be supplied advert-free. In practice, the ‘Smart Adds’ system was never used and no adverts were ever shown.

Games were sold on Secure Digital cards, and standard SD cards could also used to load music and movies to play on the device. Just 14 games were released for the system during its short life, eight in the US and six in Europe.

It was expected to be successful, but there were early technical issues, and difficulties in financing manufacture. In the end less than 25,000 were ever sold and it is considered the worst selling handheld console of all time. In 2006, Tiger Telematics was forced into bankrupcy and the Gizmondo was discontinued.

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Nokia N-Gage card (2003 – 2006)

The Nokia N-Gage was a combined phone and handheld game console, launched in 2003.

To compete with Nintendo’s Game Boy Advance, Nokia included a phone in the N-Gage. Unfortunately, this meant the buttons were not suited to gaming, and the phone’s speaker and microphone were built into the side of the device meaning users had to hold the device at right angles to their head, leading to the nickname of the ‘Taco phone’ (due to its shape). Some of its core features were impressive for its time, like Bluetooth connectivity and an on-board MP3 and video player.

Games for the N-Gage were distributed on MultiMediaCards, but to put the card into the device meant removing the back of the N-Gage along with the battery. A re-design in 2004 as the N-Gage QD moved the card slot to the outside of the device, but sales continued to be poor and only around 3 million were sold over its lifetime. Over 50 games were made available for the N-Gage range, but there were no ‘must-have’ titles (there were some big titles such as Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, Call of Duty, and Pandemonium, but these were also available on other consoles).

Games continued to be released until 2006, but the device had already been withdrawn from Western markets in 2005 by which time the Sony PlayStation Portable and the Nintendo DS were on the market.

The N-Gage name lived on until 2010 as the name of a platform for online distribution of games to later Nokia smartphones.

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Nintendo GameCube Memory Card (2002 – 2007)

The Nintendo GameCube was a sixth-generation video game console introduced in 2001 in Japan and the US (it became available in Europe in 2002) and was the successor to the Nintendo 64.

It featured two memory card ports for saving game data and Nintendo released three official memory cards: Memory Card 59, which was grey and had a capacity of 512 KB (59 save blocks), Memory Card 251, which was black and had a capacity 2 MB (251 save blocks) and Memory Card 1019, which was white and had a capacity of 8 MB (1019 save blocks).

A few games were known to have compatibility issues with the 8 MB memory card, and at least two games have save issues with any size.

Reception of the GameCube was mixed, but it sold approximately 22 million units and more than 600 games were released for the GameCube before it was discontinued in 2007.

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Sony PlayStation Memory Card (1995 – 2006)

The PlayStation Memory Card was a proprietary flash memory cartridge for the Sony PlayStation game console, released in 1995 in Europe.

Used for saving game play progress, the capacity of the official Sony Memory Card was 1 MB in fifteen blocks of memory. Some unofficial cards were made with higher capacities, but some games will not save to these. PlayStation Memory Cards could be used in the PlayStation 2.

Its successor, the PlayStation 2, was launched in 2000 with it’s own range of Memory Cards and the PlayStation (by then in redesigned form as the PSOne) was discontinued in 2006.

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Psion Organiser Datapak (1984 – 1992)

The Psion Organiser was an early personal digital assistant launched by Psion in 1984, combining features such as an electronic diary and searchable address book in a handheld device.

The Organiser could use up to two removable storage modules, known as Datapaks using EPROM storage. These could be written to, but needed to be erased using a special device before they could be written to again. Datapaks could also come pre-loaded with software, for example to extend the functions of the built-in calculator.

In 1986, the Organiser II was introduced with a two-line display and more RAM among its improvements. It could also use a number of different types of improved Datapaks, containing either EPROM or battery-backed RAM storage each storing between 8 KB and 128 KB of data. Later flashpaks (EEPROM) and RAMpaks were added to the range, capable of storing up to 256 KB on each extension slot.

The Organiser II had more built-in applications such as a database and alarm clock, was programmable by end-users, and offered an external device slot for modules such as telephone diallers, barcode readers and thermal printers.

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Xbox 360 Memory Unit (2005 – 2010)

The Xbox 360 Memory Unit was a flash-based memory card for the first series of the Xbox 360, a sixth generation game console introduced in 2005.

The memory card was available in three capacities – 64, 256 and 512 MB – and allowed the transfer of saved games, unique gamer profiles, and content downloaded from Xbox Live Marketplace to other Xbox 360 consoles. Some game saves and downloaded content could not be copied to memory cards, and what content could be moved was up to the discretion of the individual video game developer.

The Xbox 360 Memory Card was phased out in 2010 with the release of the Xbox 360 S.

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