BenQ shows new portable storage line

BenQ has unveiled a line of portable optical disc burners for 8 cm discs and featuring USB On The Go.

BenQ is preparing a new range of optical disc-based portable storage products with plans to introduce the first in the line in September, it said on Monday.

The Pocket Writer products will play and record 8-centimeter optical discs, but not the more common 12 cm discs. Three versions are planned; mock-ups were shown at a Taipei news conference. The PW100 will be compatible with CD, the PW200 with DVD, and the PW300 with Blu-ray Disc, said Jennifer Ho, a representative of BenQ's storage division.

All of the products will support USB On The Go, also known as USB host mode. With this technology, users can plug in USB-compatible devices such as digital still cameras and video cameras and transfer data directly onto the optical disc without the need to send it via a personal computer. The drives will read Compact Flash, Secure Digital (SD), MiniSD, MultiMediaCard (MMC) or Memory Stick memory cards. The PW200-model will also have a Bluetooth wireless connection.

Although several devices already offer a similar function, most are targeted at photographers who want to unload memory cards during a day's shooting and are based on hard-disk drives. BenQ decided to go with optical discs because they're cheaper and they enable data to be shared between people easily, said Ho. Imagine attending a wedding and on the way out, you're handed a disc with images from the ceremony, she said.

An 8-centimeter CD can hold up to 200M bytes of data and a similarly sized DVD can accommodate 1.4G bytes, BenQ said.

The Pocket Writer drives can also be hooked up to a television to display JPEG images and play MP3 audio files on the discs. The PW200 can also play MPEG 1, 2 or 4 video. Detailed specifications for the PW300 were not available.

BenQ plans to sell the products worldwide, beginning with the PW100 in September, said Ho. The PW200 is planned for February 2006 and the PW300 for the third quarter of 2006. The PW100 will cost US$179 and the PW200 US$249, she said. Pricing for the PW300 has yet to be decided.

The company also plans to sell a 16X DVD burner with USB On The Go support from September. The EW164G has USB 2.0 and IEEE1394 interfaces and offers many of the same functions at the Pocket Writer products. It will cost US$179.

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