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PNY To Offer U3 Flash Drives

New York – Flash memory manufacturer PNY announced today at the Digital Life show, here, that it will offer a pair of USB drives that incorporate the U3 software platform.

U3, a joint venture from SanDisk and M-Systems, also added several new software programs to its stable of portable applications available for downloading directly to U3-enabled flash drives.

PNY will introduce a 1GB U3 drive in its Mini Attache line and a 2GB drive in its Attache line in 2007. Pricing was not announced. PNY is the eighteenth hardware vendor to offer flash drives with the U3 platform. According to NPD, PNY was the second largest seller of USB flash drives, with 16 percent of the market, behind SanDisk at 32 percent.

U3 has partnered with four of the top five USB flash drive manufacturers. Lexar Media, which holds 9 percent of the market, is not a U3 partner but supports the rival PowerToGo platform.

On the software side, U3 added CryptoLock encryption software from Research Triangle Software, Portable Vault security software from StompSoft, StarOffice productivity software from Sun Microsystems, and Yahoo! Widget Engine 3.1.

U3 also announced a promotional partnership with digital music service eMusic. The company plans to expand the partnership to include music downloading to U3 drives in the future, a company spokesman said.

According to U3, there are currently over 100 software applications available for its flash drives.

According to the research firm Gartner, 70 percent of the 149 million USB flash drives shipped in 2008 will be so-called “smart” drives capable of running software applications.

Using a U3 flash drive, consumers can launch documents and programs and surf the Web without loading files onto the host PC. When the drive is removed, no trace of its programs or Web surfing remain on the computer.

In other USB flash drive news, Kingston announced a line of secure drives in its DataTraveler lineup. DataTraveler Secure drives are aimed at consumers and are available immediately while DataTraveler Secure Privacy Edition drives are aimed at enterprise users and will ship in January.

Both drives feature waterproof titanium-coated stainless steel casings, 256-bit AES encryption, and 24MB/sec read and 10MB/sec write speeds.

DataTraveler Secure drives will ship with MyDataZone software for password protecting portions of the drive and My Traveler software to help users manage content and synchronize files with a host device. They will be available in 512MB, 1GB, 2GB and 4GB capacities for a suggested retail price of $40, $62, $108 and $244, respectively.

Privacy Edition drives feature more robust security, including a password system that locks out users after ten failed password attempts. They will be available in 512MB-4GB capacities. Pricing was not announced.