Rogues Gallery: 15 Frustratingly Proprietary Storage Formats

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ptyler_82

Are you kidding me? This article is horribly written and doesn't even come close to illustrating 15 frustratingly proprietary storage formats.
Let me first, address some of these 'Frustratingly Proprietary' formats

Garmin Data Card - Developed before flash cards became regularly used in anything other than cameras, every model that used these is now discontinued.
Betamax - Are you kidding me? Betamax was a superior format until the Extended VHS formats were released... and even then Betamax's picture quality was still superior. The only problem in cost was Sony's greed in licensing. It spawned the various Betacam formats that were in wide commercial use and still are in some markets.
DAT - While too expensive to be a success in the consumer market, DAT dominated the recording industry for years, it was not a failure in any sense.
HDDVD - Hardly a proprietary format, many members of the HDDVD consortium made drives and discs. It lost because it was the inferior format. The optical layer being too close to the surface and hardcoating not being mandatory was just one example of where things went wrong with HDDVD and that's before you get into it's lesser capacity and lower bitrate mandatory codecs.
MiniDV - Not a failure, nor proprietary... not sure where you got this nonsense about firmware tape lockout but having used many brands of tape and camera together, I can tell you that this is just not true. Still used where DVD recording is undesirable and HDD recording is slow or cost restrictive.
ioMega Jaz and Zip - Proprietary drives, yes, but other manufacturers made disks (iMation) and both were very widely used... my university had Zip and Jaz drives on every campus computer and all of my CS professors required that we turn projects in on Zip disks.
Sony Memory Stick - This may be one of the very few examples of a format that actually fits the article title. It's not really proprietary though, granted only Sony devices use it, other manufacturers (SanDisk) can make the sticks themselves. The problem I have is how many formats you have listed... eight, really? Hmm I can narrow it down to three for you, MS and MS Pro are the full size ones and Pro are backward compatible. Duo, Duo Pro and Duo Pro HG are all half height and are also backward compatible. M2 are the mini cards and are found primarily in cell phones... Hmmm only six formats there... perhaps you were also thinking of the MS Select with a selectable bank system which wasn't widely used and was replaced with the Pro? Is the eighth format you speak of the XC series? That's really no different from SDHC now is it?
MiniDisc - Major hit in Japan, not so much here, but you can't fault the format or the codec, it was a good idea, digital conversion in real time as opposed to the minutes upon minutes upon minutes most MP3 encoders took on the computers of the era MiniDisc started in. Also, ATRAC is actually a very good format compared to those of it's day.
PS2 Memory Card - Were you being purposely dense? Every console until the current PS3/Wii/360 generation that used memory cards had a proprietary format. You have to judge the PS2 on when it was released not it's later life span. When it was made, USB flash drives were still on the costly end of things... furthermore, with it's backward compatibility for PS1 games, making a new memory card with the same pinout as the previous generation simplified things and reduced build costs. Later games DID use the USB ports for various things... GranTurismo 4 actually let you save photos of your cars onto some USB Thumb Drives. So... if you criticize this, you need to do the same to the PS1, the Gamecube, and the XBox.
Apple Air Superdrive - It's Apple, of course it's hardware locked, that's almost standard operating procedure for them.
UMD - Aside from just sticking a Mini DVD drive in the PSP, this was the best way for Sony to implement this method. the U in UMD doesn't refer to it as a Universal format, but that the same diskcart was used for games and videos... they had no illusions of it becoming a standard of some sort.
PSVita Memory Card - Now this illustrates the title perfectly... After deciding not to bundle one with the system, Sony could have gone the Pro Duo or M2 card route but instead chose a new proprietary card, that basically reeks of greed.
360HDD - The 360's HDD units were built for ease of installation without opening the console... further, the proprietary casing was meant to thwart attempts to hook the HDD up to a computer and fiddle around with the files... it's their way of shoring up another possible avenue for console hacking and piracy
NES Cart - If the title was referring to 'frustratingly proprietary' then why are you praising this proprietary format? Specifically, why praise just the NES? This was the norm back then and Atari, Mattel, Coleco, Magnavox and Sega did it before Nintendo did.

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TheMiddleman

You're spot-on about everything except the UMD. Sony actually did want to roll out that format for other hardware besides the PSP, initially. There was talk of settop boxes and hand held media players that would accept the UMD carts. Prototypes of both were built and displayed at CES, but were never put into production after negative feedback and low sales of the PSP itself made it clear to Sony brass that there wasn't enough interest in it to justify the expense, and with streaming media coming into it's own around the same time, no one saw a future in shrinking the dvd.

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ptyler_82

Next, I'll throw you some real examples of frustratingly proprietary formats...

Sega's Dreamcast's GD-ROM - They modified the CD-ROM format to hold more data because they simply didn't want to pay royalties to the DVD Forum.

RealMedia - RM files were the bane of my existence. Having to install bloated, badly written, slow, ad-laden software just to view one video format because no one else could support that format?

Apple OSX - Beautiful, secure, and responsive OS... but it is specifically keyed to only run on Apple hardware. Now, this used to be okay by me back when Apple could justify the price of their machines, i.e. back when they used PowerPC hardware, the software wasn't compiled for Intel. Now, however, Macintoshes are Intel based and amount to nothing more than overpriced PC Clones... sort of like Sony Vaios.

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muelle

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Wingzero_x

How is the Laser disc not on this list?

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CantankerousDave

I have to agree, this article contains some real whoppers, indicating that the author didn't understand what the format was used for in the first place. VERY poorly researched.

1) DAT
DAT is best known for corporate data backups where robustness and reliability were vital. When you created a DVD master back in the day, you would dump your data onto a DAT tape and bring it to the authoring house to press the glass master. It may have originated as a replacement for audio cassette, but most of its life was spent as a data storage medium.

2) "proprietary" DV tapes
The author seems to be confused here, too. Some DV tapes did contain an extra "MIC" (Memory In Cassette) chip, but it was used to store user data like timecode data, shot lists, thumbnails, and so on. You rarely saw tapes with them, and they didn't affect the tape's playback compatibility in the least. If your deck didn't support the chip, it was ignored. End of story.
Also, DV tapes were (are?) popular as a medium for long-term storage. They're very robust, even if their 13GB storage capacity isn't as huge as it was back in the day.

3) Zip/Jaz drives
These were everywhere in the late 90s, especially in media labs. CDRs were too expensive and flakey at the time. If you had more data than could fit on a Zip drive (totally ubiquitous in the 90s), Jaz drives were your only option. I'd hardly call this frustrating since they were everywhere. Plus, they came with a SCSI3 adapter, making them a freaking *awesome* deal.
On the down side, a Zip drive could become misaligned, causing it to corrupt any disk that you put in it, which could then throw off the alignment of other drive units. Google "Click of Death." Imagine a mechanical virus. Scary then, but hilarious in hindsight.

4) Beta tapes
Beta was the superior format, no ifs, ands, or buts. The reason it lost to VHS is because Sony didn't want porn on it. And yes, porn was THE driving factor in the growth of home video. (But don't confuse the old Betamax home format with production formats like Beta, BetaSP, and DigiBeta.)

5) Sony MiniDiscs
These were HUGE in Japan. Yes, Sony had its own compression format at the time, but guess what? MP3 hadn't been established as the de facto standard at the time. Plus, you could record from an external source and get a digital copy in real time, rather than spending hours encoding a track on a PC. Huge selling point.
Funny story - as an exchange student in Japan in 1994, I could go to a rental store, give them a blank cassette, and have them dub any CD to it for a small fee. Cassettes came in a wide range of recording lengths, tailored to common album lengths.

I do agree that proprietary storage media are like meth to Sony. If they put out a new device, it *will* have a Sony-propriety storage system. They can't help themselves. At least they've been adding SD slots to their cameras for a while now.

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Wingzero_x

Great response. I would add that Sony did include USB ports on the PS2, however the storage medium at that time would've be cost prohibitive. As USB thumb drives were just hitting the market, and were quite expensive.

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TheMiddleman

Wow, what a crap article. Aside from the desperate need for proof-reading, the article itself is just dumb. The ZipDrive was awesome in it's day, and the only tech group I've ever heard bag on it is this one. I used them every day both academically and professionally for 5 years, and it wasn't until the price of CD-R's dropped to about 50-75 cents per disc and drives themselves drop below 100 bucks around 2002 or so that the Audio/Visual world abandoned them. Shortly after that most offices and college campuses were wired up with gigabit networks anyway, so physical media became redundant regardless. Why waste time and money burning something to disc when I can just transfer it to a network mounted drive and have the file there waiting for me by the time I walk across the the office?

And what's up with hating on Garmin? That storage dongle was only used in a handful of models, and was quickly replaced by SD cards once that format became popular. This entire article just reeks of unnecessary padding. What, was 10 to small of a number for ya Seamus?

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WETAFROMAN

Seamus Bellamy are you an kidding me? Not only is beta's quality/performance better then VHS but beta is still used widely in the film/video industry especially for commercial television. Also HDDVD is better then bluray however because Sony pumped so much money into the bluray project they forced HDDVD out of production. It had nothing to do with being proprietary technology and making it so few could actually have access to it. DV Tapes just like beta are still in use in some film areas including film schools and television so it really doesn't make sense to act like there dead, and it wasn't the fact that the firmware varied from manufacture but by the year of the equipment. Also how often has apple ever released a product computer wise that would work with anything other then a mac. Almost never!!! Also back in 2005 the chances of somebody needing or having the knowledge to change the hard drive in a console was pretty close to 0% So back of Microsoft. Also dont praise the NES cartridge in a article titled 15 Frustratingly Proprietary Storage Formats. Some advice for next time make it sound like you know what you are talking about instead of making it look like you looked up random "proprietary storage formats" on Wikipedia. Then you wont have all these angry reviews.

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tugboat_2

I believe the author was referring to the fact that Sony wanted and started to absolutely control and charge the shit out of licenseing to mfr both the tapes and drives. It was only when they finally figured out that JVC was practically giving away the licensing that Sony started easing up on control. By then it was way way to late. Especially when they came out with the long play and extra-long play Vhs so you could actually get a complete movie on one tape.

No Sony didn't lose due to quality. That was the real frustration, we all knew Beta-Max was superior. But who could afford it. I seem to remember it was mostly impossible to get a tape longer than an hour. Virtually no one was mfr'g drives. Content was more expensive because much of it needed 2 sometimes 3 tapes. Not to mention the artificially higher cost of the media and hardware.

I think Sony has really really been lucky with blue ray. They have c kept such a strangle hold on hardware license's, thus prices it is surprising Blue-Ray is still with us. If they hadn't been able to suck in Disney and some others with promises of easier/better piracy control they would not still be around.

At least that was my take on VHS/Beta-Max.

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WETAFROMAN

That's not the big problem I have. Its the fact that both you and the author look at beta and say it lost, that it was doomed to fail.... Well it didn't!!! It has clearly out lived VHS because of its superiority and is still in use today by the video industry.

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jbwhite99

Where was XD (eXtreme Digital) cards for Fuji and Olympus cameras? I think that had these cameras used SD they would have sold more.

Behind every unique disk/card listed here is a technical need or an opportunity to make money. In some cases, in order to meet a certain price point on the unit, we have to make ___ on peripherals.

Money is always in the accessories. For the ungodly profit that Apple makes on their products, they make just as much on iTunes store. Apple gets a 30% cut on everything through the store - so now you see why they want to start selling Mac software, and same for Google, Amazon, and Microsoft.

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Typo91

Zip drives almost became the standard for floppy drives.

your math is a little off, 100MB ZIP = 69 floppy disks, NOT 8.

Also everyone knows it was the Parallel port zip-drive that sucked, the SCSI version which cost the same, was AMAZING, faster then some harddrives.

Also I had over 30 Zip disks, never had a problem, while floppys had a 50% fail rate.

I still have my coveted zip drive today, its clean as the day I got it.

Zip drives later came in internal SCSI and IDE versions, and later came in 250MB. They blew LS120 drives out of the water in speed and reliability, Every where you went, people had a Zip drive.

Burnable CDs and RE-Writeables killed every other removable media type when it all hit, and now we all just use thumb drives, and later we will just save data right into the molecules of ANY object you choose, anything from your fingernails, to pennies, to any other thing you can get your hands on.

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aarcane

Now that the Zip drive is up there, I count 14 bad and 1 good. Zip drives were crappily proprietary, which is why the imation LS120 drive was much more popular. Each drive held 120MB instead of the iomega 100MB, and the single IDE drive provided backward compatibility with standard 1.44 and smaller Floppy Disks. In fact, I still have one on the shelf behind me.

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TheMiddleman

Are you high? I worked in Audio/Visual production in the late 90's/Early 00's, and EVERYONE had a zip drive on their work station. They were the defacto means of moving large files to and from your station and the recording studios/editing bays.

Conversely, I never saw anyone use a SuperDrive. Yeah we talked about it occasionally, but no one bought them. Why would they, when ZipDrives were already in use everywhere? And why bring up their proprietary nature? Like you could run an SD disk on a regular 1.44 drive or something, right? And why would you need backwards compatibility support for a storage medium no one in the workplace or college campus used anymore?

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Ghost XFX

NES cartridge... At least you didn't have to buy the cards that will get lost somewhere in the couch. Blow on it, wipe it with alcohol, or put it in the freezer, magical things happen once it powered up....not all of them good.

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limitbreaker

so much senseless Sony hating, makes me sick that a MPC editor can be so biased.

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essjay22

Sony is the perpetrator of more proprietary tech than any other manufacturer( listed here ) !! Yes we *hate* that .
A pox on sony and all their houses.
Want to bet they do it again in the future??

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rsaotome

Sadly, I own several of those accursed Sony products, except for Betamax & Sony Vita...

I hope this article wasn't ripping on the NES Cartridges, since they were extremely durable, esp when it came to taking multiple beatings, because a great deal of NES games liked to cheat. ^_^

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Wingzero_x

Hell I still have a circuit board I beat out of a Genesis game, and it works. I really wish they had a cartridge system for young kids.

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JoetheMobster

"since they were extremely durable, esp when it came to taking multiple beatings, because a great deal of NES games liked to cheat. ^_^"

ROFLMAO! so true!

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noobstix

Heh, the NES cartridge...boy does that bring back memories. I remember blowing the cartridges so many times that I almost passed out. The only times that worked seemed to be far and few and I probably spent almost as much time sliding the reset switch.

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Slugbait

The first sentence about HD DVD makes sense. Everything after that, sounds like the author had a few too many beers.

I have several different brands of MiniDV tapes that work fine on my Canon Elura 100...none of those tapes were made by Canon. This info also came as quite a shock, of all my years using camcorders I had never heard anything about tape compatibility. So I did some searching around and could not find so much as a hint that ANY MiniDV camera required tapes made by the camera's manufacturer. I call bullshit.

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kiaghi7

"Fact: Sony could have just as easily given the PS2 a USB port, thus making everyone's life a whole lot easier."

Not to defend the dim-bulbs at SONY for their proprietary nonsense which I detest, but SONY actually did put two USB ports on the PS2 right out of the gate...

I -think- later models may well have stripped those out or reduced the number, but I have a USB keyboard and of course the obvious choice of a several GB thumb-drive (can't remember now how big) in my PS2 at this very instant and regularly use it with my codebreaker to effectively have many GB of memory card storage without ever having to delete any games, no matter how much space they want, since in comparison to the puny 8MB memory card, the thumb drive is practically bottomless to even the largest PS2 save files.

Again, I don't know if ALL models of PS2 have USB ports, but I know that mine and all of my friends who have the "original" model PS2 have USB ports.

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Wingzero_x

Yep, or some how the SOCOM headset was magical. But another problem was that USB storage devices were really expensive back then. I paid about $80 for 64MB back in 2003.

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tsamhammer

Could we get a decent editor review of this article? Maybe even a proof read? Please?

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dgrmouse

hahaha, no kidding. The worst bit is that stories of this quality have been slowly taking over the print magazine for quite some time. The website review in the last issue was awash with terrible grammar.

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BiroOoOo

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Raswan

Moral of the story: Sony can suck a dick. I didn't know the Vita doesn't even ship with a memory card. Can't believe that kind of nonsense still happens. Just blows my mind.

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AudioCraZ

I pretty much given up on Sony. Proprietary memory for each damn thing just gets annoying. Not to mention that it is overpriced. Haven't bought a Sony anything in years, plan to keep it that way.

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kixofmyg0t

Ummm....I have so much Sony crap it's not even funny.

Every single Sony product I have that reads and writes to some sort of memory uses Memory Stick....and they all play nice with eachother.

It was nice back in the day to take a picture with either my Sony W-810i camera phone....or actual Sony camera....and be able to take out the memory stick and shove it in my PSP/PS3 and various other Sony products and everything just work.

It is true that most Sony products have the proprietary Memory Stick....but >95% of their products will accept any MS Pro duo.

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HiGHRoLLeR038

exactly, only sony products accept sony formats lol - thats the problem. It's difficult to deal with unless your house is full of sony everything.

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aarcane

I can only find 13 of the 15. Where are the other two? LOVE that you gave a nod to video game cartridges there after the end!

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praetor_alpha

Let's not forget the list of Sony's formats that actually became ubiquitous industry standards (say it ain't so!), like Compact Disc, 3.5" floppy disk, and (of course) Bluray.

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ptyler_82

Sony's 3" microfloppy is not the 3.5" floppy that became standard, the Microfloppy Industry Committee of 23 manufacturers based the format on Sony's format, but it wasn't the same.

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ptyler_82

Sony's 3" microfloppy is not the 3.5" floppy that became standard, the Microfloppy Industry Committee of 23 manufacturers based the format on Sony's format, but it wasn't the same.

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kixofmyg0t

HOW DARE YOU SAY ANYTHING POSITIVE ABOUT SONY!!

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Supall

I can't tell if there was sarcasm for the NES cartridge...

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stradric

I'd put BluRay in that list too. Next, make a list of frustratingly useless ports like Firewire.

The Mac wired USB keyboard from a few years ago included a USB extension in the box. Unfortunately, the USB plug had a special metal nubbin on it to prevent you from using it with any other normal USB plug. Leave it to Apple to take the UNIVERSAL Serial Bus and make it proprietary. This means that if you don't need the extension for the keyboard, it's worthless and just sits in a drawer somewhere.

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kixofmyg0t

Yeah because only Sony products use Blu-Ray right?

Oh OH! Because Blu-Ray was a huge fail right? Duh NOBODY has Blu-Ray drives.....

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jason2393

The PS2 has two USB ports. In Gran Turismo 4, you can take pictures of your cars, plug in a jump drive, transfer them there, then view them on your computer. Also, the PS1 used the same shape of memory card, so you could use ps1 cards and games in your ps2.

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Peanut Fox

But why not allow users to use the USB ports that were on there to SAVE actual games? Why require a proprietary memory card?

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kixofmyg0t

Because it was backwards compatible with the PS1 that came out in 1994....WAAAAY before USB thumb drives.

The PS2 could read PS1 memory cards. Sony figured why make a new card when we can just make it backwa......no on second though everyone's right. Sony just did it to piss everyone off. Yep.

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praetor_alpha

Probably because when the PS2 was introduced (2000?), there was no such thing as a USB flash drive.

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LatiosXT

Sony's Memory Stick deserves a special mention. That $#@%@in' format needs to die. If there is one complaint I have about the PS Vita, not only did it not come with a Memory Stick (come on Sony, Nintendo threw a 2GB SD card with the 3DS!), but you easily pay more than double to quadruple the price for the same capacity. And I also hear that not just any Memory Stick will work either.

Yes, your Blu-Ray format won. But nobody's interested in Memory Sticks anymore, so drop it.

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