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Many Vendors Carving USB Drive Pie

With USB flash drives predicted to be the best-selling solid-state memory format in 2005, no shortage of vendors came to International CES, here, hoping to help themselves to a slice of this growing market with distinctive designs or aggressive pricing to distinguish themselves in a crowded field.

Lexar Media introduced its new JumpDrive Expression line of USB 2.0 drives. They will ship with three color “mood bands.” According to Lexar, there will be several hues including pistachio, orange and periwinkle. The bands double as a protective cover that secures the USB cap to the drive, ensuring that it won’t disappear.

The drives ship in February in 256MB, 512MB and 1GB capacities at a suggested retail price of $49.99, $69.99 and $99.99, respectively.

Lexar also announced its second USB drive product in its recently introduced USB Card form factor — a wireless configuration device designed to work with Microsoft Windows Connect Now products. The Windows Connect Now key lets consumers add Microsoft Windows Connect Now compatible devices to a wireless network and will ship in 256kB capacity.

It will be available for retailers to offer as a wireless configuration tool. Pricing and availability were not announced.

Imation expanded its line of drives with swivel caps with the addition of the USB 2.0 Flash Drive Mini. The drive will be available in capacities of 64MB to 512MB and will ship with a key chain. It features a write speed of 1MBps and a read speed up to 6MBps.

The drives ship this month in 64MB, 128MB, 256MB and 512MB for a suggested $38.89, $50.56, $71.78 and $102.91, respectively.

Memorex introduced the M-Flyer line to its TravelDrive family of USB 2.0 drives, geared for executives, with a scratch-resistant steel casing. The drives ship in February in capacities of 512MB, 1GB and 2GB for a suggested $89.99, $129.99 and $249.99, respectively. They feature a retractable USB connector, bundled software suite, blue LED light, read speeds of up to 25MBps and write speeds of up to 17MBps.

The bundled software allows users to access and synchronize e-mail, compress files and automatically lock and unlock a PC for security purposes.

PNY Technologies’ new Attache 2.0 USB Drive Accessory Kit will offer three interchangeable colored caps and jackets for the fashion conscious.

The drives are shipping now in 128MB, 256MB, 512MB, 1GB and 2GB capacities for a suggested retail price of $29.99, $39.99, $59.99, $99.99 and $129.99, respectively.

Toshiba announced its entry into the USB drive market with a line of USB 2.0 drives from 128MB to 1GB. The drives feature sustained read speeds of 8MBps and sustained write speeds of 3.8MBps. Pricing was not announced.

Verbatim introduced a line of Store ‘n’ Go-branded USB drives with a maximum write speed of 14MBps and a read speed of 23MBps. The drives feature hardware data encryption, tamper-resistant password entry security and V-Key file synchronization software.

A two-color LED on the drive serves to identify the port speed. The drives will ship with labels in capacities from 128MB to 2GB. The 12MB drive will retail for an estimated street price of $32, the 256MB for $65, the 512MB for $75, and $329 for the 2GB drive.