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Flash Memory Makers Are Diversifying Lines

Las Vegas — The drive to differentiate flash-memory storage products along grounds other than price per megabyte have led vendors down novel pathways, including wearable drives and drives capable of displaying available memory while disconnected from a computer.

Other peripheral vendors are using International CES this week to introduce digital frames and backup devices to tackle the explosive growth in personal digital media.

Advanced Media will introduce an “unbalanced” SD card with a portion of the card encrypted for pre-loaded software applications or content, and another portion free for traditional use. The company will also introduce the Laser USB flash drive with data transfer rates up to 19MBps read and 14MBps write. The drive supports automatic login for entering passwords and IDs to a PC when the drive is connected in addition to Internet bookmarks and Flash Mail e-mail application. The drive also offers a “Secret/Zip” feature that creates a secret folder and a zip folder to allow users to encrypt or zip a file by dragging it into the proper folder.

Ceiva will introduce a new photo frame/receiver with a 15-inch screen capable of displaying 100 photos at a time. The unit receives pictures through the company’s subscription-based online photo service and connects via either an analog telephone line, broadband modem or Wi-Fi connection (with adapters). Camera phone owners can program their cellphones — on any network — to upload images directly to Ceiva’s network where they are then downloaded to the frame.

Imation will tackle the issue of misplaced and lost flash drives with its Flash Wristband, a wearable USB flash drive. Available in blue or black colors, the 256MB drive features a rubber molding that clips around a user’s wrist like a bracelet. The drives will be shipped to Target stores this month and retail for a suggested $34.99.

Kingston announced support for the MicroSD format and will ship a 256MB card for a suggested $27. The company also announced a 1GB MMCmobile card and a 1GB miniSD card. Both will retail for a suggested $82.

Lexar will introduce three new USB flash drives and update several existing models.

The new JumpDrive Mercury can display available storage space without being plugged into a computer. It will be available in 1GB and 2GB capacities.

The company will also introduce its first flash drive based on the USB Flash Card (UFC) standard announced in 2005. The JumpDrive Firefly will offer colored interchangeable sleeves to house the drive. It will be available in 256MB, 512MB, and 1GB capacities. The drive fits into a normal USB port and was initially pitched to camera and CE manufacturers as a means of unifying the dizzying proliferation of flash memory card formats.

Lexar took aim at the U3 consortium with its own pre-loaded drive in conjunction with Google. The JumpDrive Google offers several onboard Google software applications, including Google Desktop, Toobar and its Picasa digital imaging program.

Lexar’s premium JumpDrive Lightning will be replaced by the JumpDrive Lightning II featuring higher speeds and capacities. Lexar will also be replacing the biometric TouchGuard with the TouchGuard II, allowing users to encrypt and store date securely and access it using their fingerprint.

Sanho Electronics will introduce the HyperDrive Mini, a hard-disk-based memory-card backup device with built-in MP3/WMA playback capability. The unit will be available in capacities of up to 60GB and features a 16MB/s data backup speed. It accepts CompactFlash Type I/II, Micro Drive, SD/MMC, Memory Stick, Memory Stick PRO and the xD-Picture Card memeory card formats.

The unit’s battery is capable of 30GB worth of activity before a recharge is necessary.