Sanyo debuts ID Photo optical disc drive

Sanyo Electric Co. Ltd. launched an external drive for its ID Photo optical disk system this week at World PC Expo.

The IDS-M1 is an external drive equipped with three slots -- one each for Smart Media, Compact Flash and ID Photo disks -- and IEEE1394 and USB (Universal Serial Bus) interfaces.

When connected to a PC, data can be transferred between any of the media and the PC, or between the three media themselves. When used as a stand-alone device, data can be sent between the ID Photo disk and each of the other two memory cards.

ID Photo was developed as a recording medium for Sanyo's digital still camera, the IDC-1000Z ID Shot, which was launched in February this year.

Developed by Sanyo with Olympus Optical Co. Ltd. and Hitachi Maxell Ltd., it is a cased optical disk, 50 millimeters in diameter, that holds up to 730M bytes of data and has a significant price-per-megabyte advantage over competing formats. While other existing recording media, such as Compact Flash, are priced around 11,800 yen (US$100) for 128M bytes at retail stores in Tokyo, the 730M-byte ID Photo is less expensive at around 3,000 yen.

One application the company is promoting is the use of the system as a photo album backup for tourists on the road. When the memory card of their digital still camera becomes full, they can transfer images over to the ID Photo using the IDS-M1, and then continue taking pictures. The ID Photo disk can store up to 12,000 images at 60K bytes per file size, according to the company.

Sanyo claims a 30 percent share in the global digital still camera market, although this is mostly from its OEM (original equipment manufacturer) business making cameras for other companies. The company has been producing cameras under its own brand since earlier this year.

By increasing the number of products that are compatible with ID Photo, the company hopes to establish the Sanyo brand in the market, according to Hiroshi Ono, director of Sanyo's multimedia division.

The IDS-M1 is a start, but the company said it plans to market more devices compatible with ID Photo. "We are trying to get other makers to adopt the ID Photo," Ono said. "Several companies are interested in our proposals."

World PC Expo is held between Wednesday and Saturday at Makuhari Messe in Chiba Prefecture.

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