This report covers back-up systems and all sorts of storage devices, beginning
with USB flash (thumb/pen) and handheld devices. In terms of backup, there was
only one hardware solution worthy of note, plus a related product that uses
DVDs. Beyond that, there are the plethora of digital photo frames, making it
one of the hottest product categories at this year's show.
Flash Drives, Portable Hard Drives, And Backup
I wish I could say I was wowed by the new products in this category, but the
truth is there were few dramatic developments and products reflected incremental
improvements, not revolutionary changes. That said, a few products did impress
me. And we should not overlook the up-and-coming SSD (Solid State Drive). As
capacity increases and price decreases, we will soon see it replacing the typical
hard drive in many places. More to come on that later in the year.
ATP showed the EarthDrive, the world's first bio-recyclable USB flash
drive, which is shockproof, waterproof, and dustproof. Supplied with security
software, it will be available in 1, 2, 4, and 8GB densities, priced from $19-$99
(MSRP). ATP is also launching "Project: EarthDrive," a program initiated
in conjunction with American Forests, whereby a portion of the proceeds will
help plant trees. A noble and commendable effort on both fronts.
Devices ExpressCard SSD
Delkin Devices debuted the ExpressCard Solid State Drive. The SSD is replacing
the once ubiquitous CardBus PC card (on newer laptops and desktop computers)
as a means of expanding storage capacity quickly and easily in modular fashion.
It's faster and less power hungry, and generates less heat than PC cards.
While not the highest capacity cards by any stretch of the imagination, the
ExpressCard is starting modestly with 4, 8, and 16GB capacities, with higher
capacity to come soon.
The JOBO Giga Vu extreme replaces the older Giga Vu PRO, and offers one major
enhancement. Available in 80, 120, and 160GB versions, this portable hard drive
boasts 3.7" VGA true color display, fast downloads (1GB in about 2 minutes)
with data verification, built-in memory card slots for CompactFlash I/II and
Microdrive, SD/SDHC with integrated adapter (included), JPEG and raw file support,
and other features found on the older model. What it adds is compatibility with
JOBO's photoGPS system, which JOBO insiders tell me is now a reality (albeit
not for another few months). It's also Wi-Fi/WLAN compatible, supports
USB via two interfaces, and is powered by a user-replaceable lithium ion battery.
Also new this year is the Giga one ultra, a simplified portable drive with capacities
reaching 200GB and supporting more types of cards, but without the fancy color
Technology DataTraveler Style
Who said USB drives could only be functional and not stylish? Certainly not
Kingston Technology, as they proved with the new DataTraveler Style. Add your
own personal touch via a special insert on the drive's case to reflect
your personality. The DataTraveler Style comes with six pre-printed labels:
bamboo, lace, redhead mosaic, retro, sunflower, and tangerine dream. Kingston
created a special web page (www.kingston.com/style) where users can upload their
own photo, graphic design, or artwork, as well as view and download more designs
and insert text. Once printed, the personalized label slides easily into the
clear cover. The drive's capless design adds to its convenience. An easy-to-use
thumb-action slider extends and retracts the USB connector. It is available
in capacities to 8GB ($111 MSRP). Also new is the DataTraveler HyperX, designed
to run on any Windows platform but specifically enhanced for Windows ReadyBoost
on Vista-based systems for fast data transfer.
Lexar provided some insight into the direction they were headed in a private
meeting off the show floor. Essentially, they reiterated their position on the
further development of SSD technology with the Crucial product line. The SSDs
will be hot-swappable (you don't have to shut down the computer when swapping
them) and available in capacities of 32 and 64GB in an industry standard 2.5"
drive enclosure with an industry-leading native SATA 3.0GB/s interface. And
if you want to use it as an external drive, Lexar offers the Crucial SK01 External
Drive Storage Kit (sold separately). The kit will allow users to enjoy SSD technology
installed in their desktop or as a portable storage device via a USB port. The
kit includes a 2.5" USB 2.0 external enclosure, 3.5" SATA 3.0GB/s
hot-swappable drive bay, and a 5.25" drive bay bracket.
The PNY 32GB Attaché USB flash drive was among the more impressive
thumb drives to make an appearance. At 32GB it can store a ton of images, songs,
videos, and, of course, data. Almost makes you rethink taking that portable
storage drive, considering the comparative size and weight--and convenience.