By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
The first USB flash drives to incorporate the U3 operating system were announced last week at the DEMOfall technology conference, held here.
U3 was created as an independent company by flash-memory manufacturers M-Systems and SanDisk to add value and continue the growth of USB flash drives by adding “PC-like” functionality to the storage drives. U3-enabled USB drives can download and run programs directly from the drive and when unplugged from a PC, will automatically close all windows and leave no trace of the programs on the host PC.
Concurrent with the hardware launch, U3 announced an online destination that will let users find and download U3 software applications directly to their drives. Called U3 Software Central, the service can be accessed online through U3's Web site or directly from the U3 Launchpad — an interface built into U3 USB drives to control, launch and download programs to the drive.
Kingston Technology will ship U3-enabled drives in its DataTraveler family in 512MB and 1GB DataTraveler capacities for a suggested $42 and $80, respectively. The drives will not ship with any preloaded software programs but will incorporate the U3 Launchpad, which lets users download U3 programs from the Web.
Memorex will incorporate U3 technology in its Mini TravelDrive line in 256MB. 512MB, 1GB and 2GB capacities. The drives will ship in October and carry suggested retails of $29.99, $49.99, $89.99 and $179.99, respectively.
The drives will incorporate several programs including Migo, a file synchronization application, Mozilla's Thunderbird email client, McAfee Anti-Virus and U Safe password protection.
SanDisk will bring U3-enabled Cruzer Micro drives to market in October in capacities of 512MB (suggested $54.99) and 1GB ($99.99) capacities.
The drives will be pre-installed with two U3 compliant programs. The first is CruzerSync, a file synchronization program. The other, SignupShield Password Manager, saves passwords and related data from registration, log-in and password forms. When a user returns to a recognized Web site, SignupShield automatically fills out sign-in and password change forms.
Verbatim will introduce a 1GB drive in its Store 'n' Go family for an estimated $99. It will be preloaded with McAfee anti-virus software and password security features.
While manufacturers limited the scope of software available on a pre-loaded basis, a variety of other programs will be available on Software Central, including AOL's Winamp media player, Cerulean Studios' Trillian Internet chat client, CoSoSys' Carry It Easy data management software, Triscape's FxFoto Portable Pictures imaging program and the peer-to-peer VoIP service Skype.
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