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SanDisk, Imation USB Drives Emphasize Form, Security

New York — SanDisk and Imation have introduced USB flash drives aimed at the consumer and professional markets.

SanDisk said it would ship its Cruzer Contour drive this month, doubling the speed of its previous top-of-the line USB drive. The drive is decked out in a glossy black and metallic silver housing, and it features a sliding USB connector.

The drive clocks in with a write speed of 18MBps and read speeds of 25MBps. It supports ReadyBoost for boosting the memory performance of Windows Vista-based PCs.

The drive runs the U3 operating system (which SanDisk ultimately plans to supersede in 2007 with a new platform co-developed by Microsoft) and includes software from Skype and Proteteer. It offers AES hardware encryption and password protection through the U3 platform.

The Contour will be available in 4GB and 8GB capacities for a suggested $99.99 and $189, respectively.

SanDisk also announced a pair of enterprise-level drives — the Cruzer Professional and Cruzer Enterprise — which will ship this month. The Professional drive is aimed at individuals and small businesses while the Enterprise is geared toward medium-to-large firms with regulatory compliance, central management and other IT security issues.

Both offer password protection, 256-bit AES hardware encryption, read speeds of 24MBps and write speeds of 20MBps.

Cruzer Professional drives allow consumers to establish a “privacy zone” on the drive that is password protected. All data stored outside the zone is not protected. The Enterprise features mandatory password protection across the entire drive and will be complemented with new, optional CMC (Central Management & Control) server software from SanDisk. This supports password recovery and renewal through the network, remote termination of lost drives, central backup and restore, as well as central usage tracking and auditing. CMC software pricing was not announced.

The Professional drive will come in 1GB, 2GB and 4GB capacities for a suggested $54.99, $94.99 and $144, respectively. The Enterprise will also be available in those capacities for $74.99, $124 and $184, respectively.

Imation unveiled TravelDrive under the Memorex brand. The M-Flyer Pilot will be available next month in 2GB and 4GB capacities for a suggested $49.99 and $79.99, respectively.

The Pilot features ReadyBoost, 256-bit encryption security software from Migo (a $29 value), and a retractable USB port.