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The problem is that the largest xD card that your camera can support is an M or H 512mb card. The 1gb or 2gb cards are not compatible. The firmware in the camera cannot support memory storage with that capacity. The camera came out before those cards did and there no plans to upgrade the camera to allow those types of cards to be supported.
Check the manual to discover how write protect is achieved with your particular camera/card
Some card rely on a silver foil stick[Smart Media] other have a switch. Compact flash rely on a control on the camera.
So you will have to have a good browse through the manual - do not forget that there is a Full manual in PDF on the software disk.
What is the advantage of a 1 gig over two 512meg cards:
Usually the 1 gig will be priced lower than 2 512 cards.
The 1 gig card will hold twice as many photos.
That is about it.
Brand name has turned out to be a non-issue for almost all memory cards. They have to be made to a standard and they will all work.
Olympus and Fujifilm came up with the xD card.
And Sandisk is a trusted card maker.
I believe that Olympus may have a stitch feature that is only available if you use the Olympus brand of card.
A gimmick to sell more of their brand of cards.
This is pretty much of a non issue too, as there are plenty of software programs that can do stitching for panorama photos.