It's hard to believe that 8GB CompactFlash cards cost a few thousand dollars when they were introduced just three years ago. Contrast that with the few hundred dollars of new 16GB cards such as this SanDisk, which debuted last September. Unlike competitors, it's a tough-as-nails professional version with "extreme" temperature and shock specifications identical to its 8GB predecessor -- and despite its doubled capacity, no reduction in the previous 20MB/second data transfer speed. (In fact, now there's an even faster 8GB Extreme IV card delivering a whopping 40MB/second.)
The Extreme III's 16 gigabytes cost about as much today as the 8GB card did last year, meaning you're paying half the price per gigabyte for twice the storage space. And that's equivalent to more than 2,000 best-quality 10-megapixel JPEGs, or over 1,300 same-resolution RAW files. If you accidentally erase the card's contents, retrieve them with the bundled RescuePRO Deluxe software, which lets you preview (see, hear, or watch) photo, audio, or video files before recovering them to your hard drive. About $300.
BEST BUY: KINGSTON TECHNOLOGY 8GB SDHC CARDS
Even with their tiny size, about half that of CompactFlash cards, Secure Digital High Capacity (SDHC) memory cards are keeping pace with their bigger rival in both capacity and value. A case in point is Kingston's new line of affordable 8GB cards, which come in three speed classes. The Class 2 card has a minimum sustained data transfer rate of 2MB/second, while the Class 4 and Class 6 versions deliver 4MB/second and 6MB/second respectively. That's more than fast enough for most digital cameras, but the SDHC format's extra speed makes it especially well-suited to use in high-definition consumer camcorders. About $80 (8GB).