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You are here: MacNN Forums > Hardware - Troubleshooting and Discussion > Mac Notebooks > sd card slot...why?

sd card slot...why?
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fisherKing
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Jun 9, 2009, 11:00 PM
 
just wondering. i have a digital camera, i plug it in to usb, and copy my pictures and videos to my macbook. simple.

so...what's the benefit of an sd slot? anyone?
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CharlesS
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Jun 9, 2009, 11:19 PM
 
Beats me. My monitor has one of those multi-card readers in it, and before I had that I had one of those USB card readers for years, and I don't think I ever used either of them once.

It's certainly a poor replacement for the ExpressCard slot that the 15" model really should have. Heck, it's not even a worthy replacement for the audio in port on the 13".

Color me confused.

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Eug
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Jun 9, 2009, 11:25 PM
 
I would have preferred to have the audio port, too.

That said, SD is almost ubiquitous these days. I think SD makes sense for that reason. Ironically though, all my stuff uses compact flash.
     
ginoledesma
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Jun 10, 2009, 12:30 AM
 
I'm happy for the addition of the SD card, mainly because I can foresee myself using it more than the audio port that it replaces on the MBP 13" and the ExpressCard slot on the 15".

I suppose it's more for the occasional user who brings the laptop along and wants to copy a friend's photos from a (SD-equipped) camera but doesn't have a cable handy. I know I've run into that situation more times than I care to remember.
     
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Jun 10, 2009, 02:08 AM
 
It would be nice if you could install your windows boot camp on the SD card, a 16gb sdhc would be perfect.
     
Cold Warrior
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Jun 10, 2009, 02:20 AM
 
maybe they're hoping for future SDIO consumer capabilities

Secure Digital card - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
     
ibook_steve
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Jun 10, 2009, 02:37 AM
 
Hmm, I'd use the SD card reader all the time: camera (save battery life and no extra cable required), Nintendo DSi, Wii, etc. are all devices that I have that use SD. I certainly would use it more than the optical drive.

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Simon
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Jun 10, 2009, 03:39 AM
 
I could use SD more than the optical media, too.

That said, I'd still rather have audio in and more battery capacity than that SD slot. IMHO the SD slot in the new MBP is a solution to a problem that never existed in the first place.
     
Pierre B.
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Jun 10, 2009, 05:25 AM
 
It is not exactly a replacement for the ExpressCard. Apple says that you can use an SD card as a startup volume. Also, the next generation of these cards (by Q1 2009) looks more than promising. I would be not surprized to see Apple dropping completely the optical drive in the not-so-distant future, in favor of this tiny storage solution.
     
ajprice
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Jun 10, 2009, 06:05 AM
 
Originally Posted by Pierre B. View Post
It is not exactly a replacement for the ExpressCard. Apple says that you can use an SD card as a startup volume. Also, the next generation of these cards (by Q1 2009) looks more than promising. I would be not surprized to see Apple dropping completely the optical drive in the not-so-distant future, in favor of this tiny storage solution.
Does the MacBook Pro SD card slot support SDXC though?

It'll be much easier if you just comply.
     
Pierre B.
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Jun 10, 2009, 06:34 AM
 
Originally Posted by ajprice View Post
Does the MacBook Pro SD card slot support SDXC though?
In the page I linked to, it says clearly that cards exceeding 32 GB will work. This is the SDXC realm, right? In any case, at this moment the SD card slot works with SDHC media up to 32 GB, which is what is commonly available now. Suddenly, the bulk, noise and energy consumption of an optical drive (CD/DVD/Blu-ray) seem unnecessary. The fact that the SD media are bootable makes me think that this addition points to the end of built-in optical drives in Mac portables. Besides, Apple was not the one who first abandoned the floppy drives about ten years ago?
( Last edited by Pierre B.; Jun 10, 2009 at 06:39 AM. Reason: Clarification)
     
Big Mac
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Jun 10, 2009, 07:08 AM
 
The floppy was clearly dated when Apple dropped it, and still there was a substantial amount of criticism. Thus, dropping the optical drive across the line would not be a popular move any time soon. A single flash card is still much more expensive than a single DVD. I think you're also forgetting that Boot Camp isn't normally possible without an optical drive.
( Last edited by Big Mac; Jun 10, 2009 at 07:17 AM. )

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Pierre B.
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Jun 10, 2009, 07:18 AM
 
Originally Posted by Big Mac View Post
The floppy was clearly dated when Apple dropped it, and still there was a substantial amount of criticism. Thus, dropping the optical drive across the line would not be a popular move.
Certainly not now. But who knows in two or three years when these SD cards will be cheap enough and capable to store the data equivalent of a whole pack of optical disks.
     
ghporter
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Jun 10, 2009, 07:28 AM
 
That feature would have saved us some money and a lot of hassle. We got my wife a "new" MacBook a couple of months ago, but also a multi-format card reader to support her camera card. Yes, the camera does have a USB interface, but sometimes it's useful to just pull the pictures straight from the card.

And it looks like SD cards are getting close to CF cards in capacity. 2GB SDs are common and fairly inexpensive, and even 8GB cards are pretty easy to find and afford.

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Jun 10, 2009, 08:54 AM
 
Originally Posted by Simon View Post
I could use SD more than the optical media, too.

That said, I'd still rather have audio in and more battery capacity than that SD slot. IMHO the SD slot in the new MBP is a solution to a problem that never existed in the first place.
I disagree. Although my stuff is Compact Flash, I get comments all the time from people annoyed by the fact their Macs don't include SD readers. SD is very popular, and a desired feature.

Heck even you say you'd use SD more than optical.


Originally Posted by Pierre B. View Post
Apple says that you can use an SD card as a startup volume.
Nice.
     
Timo
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Jun 10, 2009, 09:22 AM
 
^from the above linked file:

Can I install Mac OS X on an SD storage device and use it as a startup volume?

Yes. Change the default partition table to GUID using Disk Utility, and format the card to use the Mac OS Extended file format to do so.
Maybe SD-based start up volumes are just a few years off.
     
schalliol
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Jun 10, 2009, 10:11 AM
 
I think this was a bad move, but maybe they did it to save space for the battery. The new ones have more room in the palm rest.

However, I am very happy my MBP has the CF slot. If you want SD, buy a $28 ExpressCard/34 device that sits all the way inside the slot. That'll support other cards too. The thing is that pros usually have CompactFlash cards, like if you have a Canon 5D MkII or something like that. I thought only consumer cameras used SD, but that might not be the case. At any rate, there's less flexibility in the new 15", as you can't add eSATA or similar, let alone a card slot.
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starman
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Jun 10, 2009, 10:28 AM
 
Originally Posted by fisherKing View Post
just wondering. i have a digital camera, i plug it in to usb, and copy my pictures and videos to my macbook. simple.

so...what's the benefit of an sd slot? anyone?
No need for a cable anymore.

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Jun 10, 2009, 10:30 AM
 
Originally Posted by starman View Post
No need for a cable anymore.
Still, compared to the loss of the CF slot, this is NOT a great improvement.

-t
     
schalliol
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Jun 10, 2009, 10:31 AM
 
Originally Posted by starman View Post
No need for a cable anymore.
Get a 21 in one EC card for $28.95 (free shipping) that supports SD and fits all the way in the slot and you don't need a cable either.
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Cloud
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Jun 10, 2009, 10:34 AM
 
I don't know why they dont put another usb port there. Does anyone notice on the unibodies that the two usb ports are too close together? f'ing annoying trying to put a usbkey and a mouse adapter.... it wont happen!
     
Salty
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Jun 10, 2009, 10:49 AM
 
I can see it making sense, given the fact that way more people have Cameras than have need of an express card slot. We sell HSPA express cards and nobody buys them they all buy USB things. The only thing I can see express cards really being good for is if you need to hook up an ESATA HD or something.
     
schalliol
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Jun 10, 2009, 10:54 AM
 
What if you don't have SD! I don't see how having the SD slot is better than a EC slot with SD card in it, other than for space.

Also for future reference: ExpressCard 2.0 spec just announced (10x faster), backwards compatible with 1.0.
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CharlesS
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Jun 10, 2009, 11:46 AM
 
Originally Posted by Cloud View Post
I don't know why they dont put another usb port there. Does anyone notice on the unibodies that the two usb ports are too close together? f'ing annoying trying to put a usbkey and a mouse adapter.... it wont happen!
Yeah, that's why I'm considering getting one of these - most of the length of the device looks no wider than a standard USB plug.

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fisherKing  (op)
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Jun 10, 2009, 12:19 PM
 
just seems to me, that another usb port, for example, would be more useful. easy to find a very-short usb plug, and a small sd card reader (for example).

ah well, am truly happy to see FW back!
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Urkel
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Jun 10, 2009, 12:41 PM
 
Here's a good reason to like the SD slot.

Apple Knowledge Base Article

Can I install Mac OS X on an SD storage device and use it as a startup volume?
Yes. Change the default partition table to GUID using Disk Utility, and format the card to use the Mac OS Extended file format to do so.
     
Cold Warrior
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Jun 10, 2009, 12:47 PM
 
I read that and it also says it doesn't support SDIO. Anyone know if SDIO is that different from SD/SDHC? Is it just something via firmware or drivers that apple would need to enable?
     
Simon
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Jun 10, 2009, 01:01 PM
 
Originally Posted by Eug View Post
SD is very popular, and a desired feature.
It was already available before because EC does SD via a cheap card. But now, with Apple "solving" a non-existent problem we're stuck with a limited slot a few people might want. Meanwhile stuff other people want has been made impossible.

IOW we have less options than before. So I ask, how twisted do you have to be to call that progress?
     
schalliol
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Jun 10, 2009, 01:25 PM
 
This is not progress on that feature, yet if it helps with the battery, it might be a trade-off more people enjoy. I'm not impressed with my 2.8 unibody's battery
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amazing
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Jun 10, 2009, 01:30 PM
 
Originally Posted by Simon View Post
IOW we have less options than before. So I ask, how twisted do you have to be to call that progress?
Apple removed firewire on the MB and that was progress.

Apple restores firewire on the 13" MBP and that's now the "new" progress.

Think "Mobius-strip-progress" and you'll be OK.

Alternatively, just call it the MacBook Semi-Pro. It's only because you're fixated on the "Pro" expectation that you're bothered. Once you think of it as "Semi-Pro", what's to complain about?
     
schalliol
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Jun 10, 2009, 01:31 PM
 
Maybe the Pro stands for Prosumer on the base 15!
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JKT
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Jun 10, 2009, 01:55 PM
 
Originally Posted by Simon View Post
It was already available before because EC does SD via a cheap card. But now, with Apple "solving" a non-existent problem we're stuck with a limited slot a few people might want. Meanwhile stuff other people want has been made impossible.

IOW we have less options than before. So I ask, how twisted do you have to be to call that progress?
[Devil's advocate] In all likelihood, that "few people" probably exceeds the EC-requiring people by a factor of 1000 or more. [/Devil's advocate]
     
slugslugslug
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Jun 10, 2009, 01:59 PM
 
Originally Posted by Simon View Post
It was already available before because EC does SD via a cheap card. But now, with Apple "solving" a non-existent problem we're stuck with a limited slot a few people might want. Meanwhile stuff other people want has been made impossible.

IOW we have less options than before. So I ask, how twisted do you have to be to call that progress?
Well, it's progress on the 13", and I was excited to see it. Strikes me as stupid on the 15", though. Even if there weren't lots of people using the ExpressCard slot, I doubt the ones who didn't were bothered by its presence.
     
schalliol
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Jun 10, 2009, 02:15 PM
 
JKT, I think the point is that we already had a SD slot, through a $29 card, but also you could also have other card readers (my camera doesn't use SD), a SSD, eSATA controller, even a docking connection (if Belkin supported Macs on theirs), and namely the 3G cards (I have one), in the same spot. I understand there may be other ways at getting these. I can only assume the slot is gone to gain space for the battery, but it's hard to see how this is a win in any other way. That said, maybe the EC slot cost more than the SD, who knows.
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Jun 10, 2009, 02:29 PM
 
Originally Posted by Cold Warrior View Post
maybe they're hoping for future SDIO consumer capabilities
Can I use SDIO (Secure Digital Input Output) cards?

No.
     
CharlesS
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Jun 10, 2009, 02:33 PM
 
Originally Posted by amazing View Post
It's only because you're fixated on the "Pro" expectation that you're bothered. Once you think of it as "Semi-Pro", what's to complain about?
Because you used to be able to get an expandable 15" notebook, and now you can't?

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JKT
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Jun 10, 2009, 02:41 PM
 
Originally Posted by schalliol View Post
JKT, I think the point is that we already had a SD slot, through a $29 card, but also you could also have other card readers (my camera doesn't use SD), a SSD, eSATA controller, even a docking connection (if Belkin supported Macs on theirs), and namely the 3G cards (I have one), in the same spot. I understand there may be other ways at getting these. I can only assume the slot is gone to gain space for the battery, but it's hard to see how this is a win in any other way. That said, maybe the EC slot cost more than the SD, who knows.
True on all counts probably
     
Simon
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Jun 10, 2009, 02:53 PM
 
Originally Posted by JKT View Post
[Devil's advocate] In all likelihood, that "few people" probably exceeds the EC-requiring people by a factor of 1000 or more. [/Devil's advocate]
EC is SD and then some.

FTR, EC is way more than just a few geeks. It's of interest to many pros, as in, ya know, MacBook Pro.

Just a few examples:
Originally Posted by BareFeats
My biggest disappointment is the loss of the ExpressCard/34 slot on the 15" model. That's been very useful for PRO accessories like the two slot Compact Flash ExpressCard reader for PRO photographers with Nikon D200 and D300s who shoot RAW. ("Real men don't use cameras with SDs.") It's useful for the 3G Broadband ExpressCard Modem for PROs on the road who don't want to block the use of the second USB port with USB 3G Broadband modem. It's useful for PRO video and audio creators who want to connect up to 2 eSATA storage devices using the Sonnet Tempo Pro "true" SATA ExpressCard. (Many so-called eSATA ExpressCards are limited to USB speeds.) Companies like Sonnet, CalDigit, LaCie, and OWC have produced some very fast eSATA based RAID enclosures that are designed specificially for the MacBook Pro. They offer transfer speed at least three times faster than FireWire 800.
     
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Jun 10, 2009, 03:22 PM
 
I just haven't seen a ton of Express Cards of ANY kind on the market, so I would have thought that somehow the EC world had sort of dried up. I've had my MBP for over two years and still haven't found a compelling need for any Express Card. It was only last month that I saw my first EC flash card reader-an SD card reader in fact.

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amazing
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Jun 10, 2009, 03:23 PM
 
Let's face it: The "Pro" in MBP is marketing speak. It's a device used to drive sales.

It has nothing whatsoever to do with "amateur" vs "pro."
     
schalliol
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Jun 10, 2009, 03:39 PM
 
Originally Posted by ghporter View Post
I just haven't seen a ton of Express Cards of ANY kind on the market, so I would have thought that somehow the EC world had sort of dried up. I've had my MBP for over two years and still haven't found a compelling need for any Express Card. It was only last month that I saw my first EC flash card reader-an SD card reader in fact.
Haven't seen anyone with a 3G card? I agree, there aren't as many cards on the market as I would've thought, but they are on most laptops of any size these ways. The 2.0 10x faster spec was released today, so we'll see what happens tomorrow:

Here's a list of the cards on the market:
ExpressCard Where to Buy Page
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Jun 10, 2009, 03:45 PM
 
Originally Posted by amazing View Post
Alternatively, just call it the MacBook Semi-Pro. It's only because you're fixated on the "Pro" expectation that you're bothered. Once you think of it as "Semi-Pro", what's to complain about?
Not being able to use it for actual "pro" work because of plenty of thousands of dollars of prior investment into equipment that conforms to a standard that is not supported seems like a valid complaint.


Stuff like this, filled with legacy DSP cards:
http://www.magma.com/products/pci/4PCI/index.html
     
schalliol
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Jun 10, 2009, 03:55 PM
 
Yeah, they basically said we'll provide a 17" for those users, so they have at least one model.
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turtle777
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Jun 10, 2009, 04:04 PM
 
Question is, if this is the beginning of the end, where CF will go away altogether, or if Apple will realize that this was a mistake, and offer it again at a later point (a la FW for 13").

-t
     
schalliol
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Jun 10, 2009, 04:10 PM
 
A good question indeed, but there's a reason why there are 32-in-one readers. I would be surprised to see complete consolidation.
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Jun 10, 2009, 05:09 PM
 
Originally Posted by ghporter View Post
I just haven't seen a ton of Express Cards of ANY kind on the market, so I would have thought that somehow the EC world had sort of dried up. I've had my MBP for over two years and still haven't found a compelling need for any Express Card. It was only last month that I saw my first EC flash card reader-an SD card reader in fact.
I rarely go to an airport without seeing someone pull out a laptop with a 3G card for either PCMCIA or ExpressCard...

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Jun 10, 2009, 05:13 PM
 
Originally Posted by schalliol View Post
Yeah, they basically said we'll provide a 17" for those users, so they have at least one model.
Oh, I'm willing to bet that in 6 months or so, they'll stick an SD slot on the 17" and dump the EC slot as well. Apple isn't interested in the pro market anymore. When's the last time they updated FCS or Logic/Shake?

Exactly.
     
EndlessMac
Senior User
Join Date: Dec 2005
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Jun 10, 2009, 06:01 PM
 
I understand enough people use SD to make Apple decide on adding a port for it but for me I never use one. Compact Flash would have been more useful but even then I would rather have another USB port instead. Two USB ports is just too limiting for me and I don't like the size of the 17" in order to gain another USB port.
     
olePigeon
Clinically Insane
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Jun 10, 2009, 06:22 PM
 
I think I'd rather have seen one more USB port instead, just let people use a dongle.
"…I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than
you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods,
you will understand why I dismiss yours." - Stephen F. Roberts
     
amazing
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Jun 10, 2009, 08:51 PM
 
I think the reason the expresscard slot went away is that Apple noticed how flaky it is with eSATA. There are tons of reports of kernel panics, all of which match my own bad experiences with eSATA expresscards. So, from Apple's viewpoint, if the main things the expresscard slot is good for is as a card reader or a 3G card, why not just dedicate that space to a card reader--and save some space that can be used for firewire 800? After all, people can always use a 3G USB interface. And everyone's been bugging Apple about a card reader, and they're cropping up on lots of the competition.

One other real question is why Apple didn't put in a dedicated eSATA port--that would've been real handy.
     
 
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