Why You Shouldn’t Use MicroSD Cards In DSLR Or Mirrorless Cameras

MicroSD cards are becoming more widely adopted, on everything from action cameras to phones to video game consoles. But you probably shouldn’t use one in your dedicated camera, at least not if it doesn’t have a MicroSD card slot.

Why? It’s all about the “sleeve,” the little plastic adapter that comes with almost every single MicroSD card sold at retailers. It’s handy if you need to read the contents of the MicroSD card on a laptop or desktop with no dedicated MicroSD slot, but it isn’t designed for constant use. It is, frankly, cheap, and it’s probably slowing down the write speed of your camera.

Let’s step back a bit. Modern cameras deal with huge amounts of data: 15+ megapixel images, as well as HD and 4K video at 60 frames per second or higher. Full-sized cameras, unlike smartphones, don’t have much in the way of internal storage—they have to write it all to a flash storage card right away. The more images and video you’re taking every second, the faster you need your camera to write data.

That’s why the “performance” of a memory card is so important: those extra labels like “Class 10” and “UHS-3” all deal with the maximum amount of data the card can handle for reading and writing at any given moment. When you buy a speedy and expensive MicroSD card, the card itself can handle that data throughput without any problems, but the same can’t be said for the SD adapter sleeve that came in the package.

The sleeve should technically be able to handle the same speedy data transfer as the tiny card—the electrical contacts are basically just miniature extension cables. And indeed, some of the sleeves I’ve tested can score the same on drive speed tests as the unaided MicroSD cards that they’re housing. But when used with a high-performance camera, the extra steps in the writing process slow down the performance.

A practical example: my Sony Alpha A6000 can shoot six 24-megapixel images per second. At high shutter speeds, it sounds like a little plastic machine gun. But that’s an enormous amount of data, somewhere between 20 and 100 megabytes every second, depending on the contents of the image and the quality setting. When the relatively small memory buffer of the camera’s own hardware runs out, it needs a super-fast SD card to take full advantage of the hardware’s capabilities.

My go-to card is this SanDisk Ultra SDXC. It’s rated for 80MB/s read speed—SanDisk doesn’t advertise the write speed, but testing it on my PC gives me results of around 40 MB/s. With the camera’s shutter speed set below the shots per second maximum, it takes about five to six seconds of maximum speed shooting before the camera has to slow down to keep writing, about 55-60 images.

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The Best Gifts For eSports Fans

So you’ve got an eSports fan on your holiday shopping list, but you’re baffled by the inscrutable phenomenon. (“eSports” is the misnomer for high-profile video game competitions with cash prizes, FYI.) No worries: we’ve got you covered.

eSports fans are pretty similar to fans of conventional sports, just, you know, without the sport part. They root for their favorite teams and players, love to show off their enthusiasm with licensed clothing and gear, and most of all, want to see these video game competitions live. That being the case, it’s not hard to figure out what makes a good gift for a fan.

Jerseys, Hoodies, And Other Merch

Officially-licensed clothing is always a surefire way to show fan enthusiasm, and that’s no less true for the eSports crowd. Most of the official competitions and teams will sell at least something, even if it’s only T-shirts, but jerseys are the premium option for those who’re looking for a gift that will last longer and show off specific teams.

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General licensed clothing for the big eSports games—DOTA, League of Legends, Counter-Strike, Rocket League, Overwatch, et cetera—can usually be found at the developer’s store, and usually on larger marketplaces like Amazon and specific stores like GameStop, too. These are items aimed at promotion of the game itself, so they won’t be quite as personal, but they make pretty good gifts if you can’t find anything else. 

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For organized competitions like The International or the LoL World Championship, look on the specific site for those tournaments. For gear that promotes individual pro teams or players, check the sites for said players—some games like Overwatch also promote team memorabilia on the publisher’s page.

Licensed PC And Console Accessories

eSports players usually have some high-end gear to play on. What better to give the aspiring pro game player than some of the same stuff? The selection of gaming gear for this purpose is generally limited to individual games instead of teams or players, like Razer’s selection of Overwatch-themed keyboards, mice, and headsets.

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Razer Activates The Turret, The First Official Mouse And Keyboard For Xbox One

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Some games, like first-person shooters, are just better with the mouse and keyboards you find on PCs. And now that consoles are basically just PCs with better quality control, why are gamers stuck with analog sticks? Why indeed, Razer asks.

As big games like Fortnite push for more and more cross-platform play, Microsoft has seen the light and elected to let at least some of them use PC-style control schemes. You can just plug a regular USB mouse and keyboard into your console, but if that’s not scratching your consumerism itch, Razer is making the first combo officially designed for this functionality. The Turret is a mouse and keyboard set that uses high-speed RF wireless and a slide-out mousepad to make controlling games on the couch as comfy as possible. It’s up for pre-order on the official Microsoft store right now, shipping in early 2019 for an eye-watering $250.

This is actually the second Razer product to carry the Turret name: the original used a laptop-style chiclet keyboard and a somewhat diminutive mouse, and was only compatible with conventional PCs and things like the NVIDIA SHIELD. That Turret left a lot to be desired, but the reboot uses Razer’s full-sized mechanical key switches, a mouse with buttons and ergonomics copied from its most expensive PC models, and of course, fully-programmable RGB lighting.

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A neat trick to help with the somewhat awkward form factor: the mouse and mousepad use gentle magnets to keep the former from slipping off the latter. Since it uses a USB dongle, the set is compatible with PCs, too. Razer says the batteries can last for more than 40 hours of use, with lighting disabled.

Keep in mind that not every game will let you play with mouse and keyboard: Xbox developers have to enable it in Microsoft’s system. But the biggest multiplayer titles are on board, including the aforementioned Fortnite, Minecraft, Warframe, DayZ, and War Thunder. Is a competitive advantage worth an accessory as expensive as your Xbox itself? For a dedicated and free-spending subset of gamers, the answer will certainly be “yes.”

The Best Retro And Mini Console Gifts

“Retro,” “Mini,” and “Classic” consoles are the be’s knees this holiday season, with notable offerings from Nintendo, Sony, and (sort of) others. But which one is the best?

There’s a pretty clear standout among the current crop of officially-licensed mini-consoles, and it’s no spoiler to say that it’s the Super NES Classic. But there are a few other options you should consider, especially if you (or your gift recipient) are unimpressed with the limited and non-expandable selection of games in these devices. A premium remade “clone” that plays original cartridges, or a device that runs emulators and nigh-unlimited game ROM files, might make a better choice for some gamers.

Before we dive in, be aware of a recent development: Nintendo recently announced they will be discontinuing the NES and SNES Classic after this holiday season. If you want to pick one up (and you don’t want to pay outrageous scalper-level prices for one a few months from now), now is the time to do so.

The Best Retro Console: Nintendo Super NES Classic Edition ($80)

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The NES Classic may have started off this craze, but going all the way back to the 80s might cause a bit of gaming jet lag. The older 8-bit games, with their extremely simple graphics, sounds, and two-button control schemes, haven’t aged as well in reality as they might have in your memory.

The SNES Classic is the way to go. Not only are the Super Nintendo games featured in its collection much more palatable than the older NES games, it’s an overall better group. Timeless Nintendo classics like Super Mario World, Super Metroid, Zelda: A Link to the Past, Mario Kart, and Donkey Kong Country are joined by third-party all stars like Mega Man X, Street Fighter II, and Super Castlevania IV. The SNES’s rich RPG legacy is also honored, with Earthbound, Super Mario RPG, Final Fantasy III, and Secret of Mana, but Chrono Trigger is an unfortunate no-show. Star Fox 2, an SNES sequel that was developed but never released, gets a world premiere on this new hardware. Naturally, the SNES Classic plays all of these games over HDMI, and there are some excellent accessories offered for the hardware, too.

Nintendo’s classic offering is getting the nod over the PlayStation Classic. Sony’s entry has some serious technical issues since some games run slowly due to PAL ROMs. While there are some standout titles in the PS Classic like Final Fantasy VII and Metal Gear Solid, it doesn’t have the wall-to-wall greats that Nintendo’s hardware does.

But the most unfortunate fact is that the early 32-bit 3D era has simply aged poorly: the low-resolution, low-framerate, and low-polygon visuals aren’t as clear or as appealing as the 16-bit sprites on the SNES games. It wasn’t until the PS2 era that 3D graphics on consoles really started to shine, while the Super Nintendo was the pinnacle of 2D console gaming. Plus, many of the PS Classic titles are available to play on the PS3 and PS4, which isn’t true with the SNES Classic and Nintendo Switch.

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This is the one you probably shouldn’t get.

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The Best “Pro” Premium Game Controllers

The modern game controller is a surprisingly effective piece of precision engineering. But if you want even more custom options and a dash of premium materials, there are even better options out there.

These “pro” controllers, called by different names and coming from different suppliers, are the Cadillac to the standard controller’s Chevy. They come with extra buttons and triggers, control bindings that can be adjusted on the fly, and even parts that can be swapped or precision-tuned by the end user. For gamers who want a frankly ludicrous amount of customization, and hopefully the tiny edge that will grant them victory in online and local games, there are no better options.

Just be prepared to pay for the luxury. These controllers are niche, high-end accessories, costing twice as much as a regular first-party console controller or more (which isn’t exactly cheap on its own).

The Best PlayStation 4 Pro Controller: SCUF Vantage Controller ($170)

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Sony doesn’t offer a super-premium version of its much-loved Dual Shock controller, but third-party supplier SCUF Distributing is ready to pick up the slack. The boutique manufacturer’s Vantage controller offers no less than six extra buttons over the standard DS4: two extra side-shoulder buttons near the first knuckle of either index finger, and four secondary “paddle” triggers on the back for your middle and ring fingers. The front allows the player to swap out different D-Pad options (including a full Nintendo-style cross or a “disc” for easy diagonal movement) and different grips on the analog sticks.

The customization options don’t end there. The primary triggers have two plastic covers for length choices, with adjustable tension springs for both. Even the vibration motors can be removed to reduce the controller’s weight. An integrated volume slider unfortunately only works in wired mode. For those players who want a truly unique controller, SCUF offers custom paint jobs for a surcharge.

And speaking of charges, they’re steep. The wired version of the SCUF Vantage starts at $170 without color choices. The wireless version, which can work in wired mode as well and comes with a freebie carrying case, costs a cool $200.

The Best Xbox One and PC Pro Controller: Microsoft Xbox Elite Controller ($150)

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