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Peripherals Plentiful at PMA

Las Vegas – Digital Camera peripherals makers brought an abundance of new product to the PMA show, including higher capacity flash cards, USB drives and portable printers.

With digital camera vendors constantly offering more megapixel bang for the buck, peripheral manufacturers have had to keep pace by expanding flash card capacity, write performance as well as address the needs for storing, transporting and transferring these hefty image files from place to place and platform to platform.

Peripheral vendors came to PMA prepared to do just that, especially with the CompactFlash format which, while larger in form factor than the more recent SD, MMC and xD cards, offers far greater capacities.

Lexar raised the capacity bar in CompactFlash with its announcement of a 2GB and 4GB CompactFlash card, speed rated at 32x and aimed at the advanced amateur/pro photographer.

The cards offer a minimum sustained read and write speed of 4.8MB per second and are equipped with Lexar’s Write Acceleration technology (WA), which further increases write speed performance in enabled cameras.

The cards (as all Lexar Professional Series cards) will include a free version of Lexar Media Image Rescue, a file recovery software that recovers ‘perceived to be lost’ image files from Lexar Media-brand USB-enabled CompactFlash memory cards.

The 2GB card is expected to ship this month for a suggested $699.99 and the 4GB card in the second quarter for a suggested retail price of $1,499.99.

Lexar also announced that it will boost the speed of its Professional Series CompactFlash cards to 40x, which will be available in 256MB and 512MB capacities and will feature the company’s Write Acceleration technology (WA). The speed of the 1GB Type I CompactFlash card has been upped to 32x from the previous 16x rating. Estimated retail pricing for the 256MB, 512MB and 1GB cards is expected to be $139.99, $249.99 and $399.99, respectively. All cards will ship this month.

The company added a 7 in 1 USB 2.0 Multi-Card Reader to its lineup to address the newest flash form, the xD-Picture Card. The reader accepts CompactFlash I/II, Memory Stick, SD, Smart Media, MMC and xD formats. The Multi-Card Reader is expected to ship in April for a suggested retail price of $39.99.

In its mainstream consumer CompactFlash lineup, Lexar announced a line of 16x High-Speed Series CompactFlash in 128MB, 256MB and 512MB capacities. The cards feature Write Acceleration technology, which was previously available only in the Lexar Media Professional Series of CompactFlash. The16x speed is capable of a minimum sustained write speed of 2.4MB/s.

The Lexar Media 16X High Speed Series Write Acceleration cards will be sold exclusively at photo specialty stores, and the 12x will continue to be available in mass retail outlets. Suggested retail pricing for the 256MB and 512MB cards are expected to be 149.99 and 289.99, respectively, with shipments beginning this month.

Panasonic introduced a portable photo printer, the SV-P20, which is powered by AC or its provided lithium-ion battery pack. The pocket-sized printer creates 290 dpi, credit card-sized photo prints without borders or framed in a choice of designs. Panasonic’s original over-coating process helps ensure prints’ longevity. Users can also turn their photos into stickers _ up to eight per sheet _ using optionally available pre-cut adhesive paper.

The SV-P20 can accept high resolution images with up to 25 million pixels and is capable of 256 levels of gradation per color, so it can smoothly reproduce color variations.

The SV-P20 prints digital images directly from SD/MMC cards and can be connected to a PC via USB. A 1.5-inch color LCD lets users view the images on the printer before printing.

PNY Technologies unveiled the Attaché, a USB 2.0 flash drive series offering file transfer rates up to 40 times faster than USB 1.1. The drives will be available in 128MB and 256MB storage capacities and will ship in the second quarter for a suggested retail price of $89.99 and $139.99, respectively.

The company also announced an xD-Picture Card reader to support the newest flash memory card format developed by Fujifilm and Olympus. The readers, which also support SmartMedia cards, will be available in the second quarter for a suggested retail price of $29.99.

SimpleTech introduced its ‘PRO X’ line of CompactFlash cards, delivering write speeds of 4MB/sec. The new cards incorporate ‘Xcell’ multitasking technology, with a new advanced controller that provides an increase in throughput for writing the picture file, delivering faster recording of high-resolution images. The cards will be available in capacities ranging from 256MB to 1GB with suggested retail prices ranging from $109 to $349.

The PRO X Professional Series CompactFlash cards are shipping now in Type I and Type II formats. Type I is offered in 256MB and 512MB capacities, and Type II is offered in 1GB capacity.

SimpleTech customers are also offered a free trial of PhotoRescue software for retrieving lost or corrupted images off the memory card.

SmartDisk introduced the FlashTrax handheld portable device for offloading and storing digital images and music.

FlashTrax can store images transferred from any flash memory card onto the built-in 30GB USB2.0 hard drive and displays them on a 3.5-inch LCD screen. A control pad allows user to change the image, zoom in, out and scroll, or choose a slide show function. The LCD folds to ensure that both the screen and control buttons remain protected while in use. Images may be viewed on the LCD screen or on any TV using the included remote control.

The unit sports a built-in MP3 player with a built-in speaker, transfer speeds of up to 480MBps, and can also serve as an external hard drive. It ships in April for a suggested retail price of $499.99.

Sound Vision under its ArmChair Electronics brand, introduced the TV PhotoAlbum, a set top box card reader with a wireless keyboard and remote control for viewing photo slideshows on a television. The TV PhotoAlbum can read images from CompactFlash SmartMedia, Microdrive, Memory Stick, SD/MMC.