I’ve looked over the EliteBook press photos before and I remember seeing something interesting, but we got too caught up in covering their release in the news that I almost forgot all about it. So here’s the scoop: there’s this slot on the front of the newly released EliteBook 8560w that looks suspiciously like a Compact Flash card slot. And upon close inspection, there’s a line above it that reads “CFast”. This is big news here! CFast is a new variant of the Compact Flash standard. And if camera models come out supporting the format one day, the EliteBook 8560w will be a professional photographer’s dream! Unless the people who designed the EliteBook 8560w know something that we don’t… maybe they’ve heard something from Canon or Nikon and CFast cards?
Either way, the EliteBook 8560w is the first ever mainstream device (and first and only notebook right now) to have a CFast card slot, and I think there may be one reason or another behind this seemingly random appearance of the slot.
The difference between CFast and Compact Flash, however, is the former uses a SATA interface, which enables CFast cards to reach a theoretical top speed of 300 MB per second, while traditional Compact Flash cards max out at 133 MB/s.
Don’t go jumping around in joy and run into the store to buy a Canon EOS 1D Mark IV or Nikon D3s and a bunch of Compact Flash cards just yet though! CFast cards use different pins and interface connectors, and are slightly thicker in size too I believe (Think the old Type II Compact Flash cards), versus Compact Flash counterparts. And so far, no mainstream devices or cameras use CFast cards, but could the EliteBook 8560w be a hint of things to come? Is there a future Canon or Nikon professional SLR or medium-format camera out there being tested in the field, and HP wants to be ready for ‘the future’?
It is also kind of strange that the EliteBook 8560w is the only one out of the three which sports a CFast slot in press photos, and the CFast slot appears in all standalone press images of the 8560w but slot disappears all together on all three models in the ‘family photo’ of the EliteBooks above.