What can you squeeze into a USB pen drive?

With the large number of USB pen drives hawked at the recent Comdex show, it may be only a matter of time before they come free inside cereal boxes.

That's why makers of the key chain-sized USB flash memory storage devices are trying to distinguish themselves from the USB legions. A host of companies selling USB pen drives buck the mundane and are preparing everything from USB pen drives with MP3 playback features, fingerprint biometric privacy, and built-in cameras. Some venders are already shipping devices, but most are overseas manufacturers getting ready to move into the U.S. market 2003.

Expect to start seeing many of these devices in stores early next year. But the products that suffer from the "just because you can, doesn't mean you should" syndrome will probably never make it beyond the prototype stage.

Groovin' Drives

By far the most popular innovation fuses the standard USB pen drive with MP3 playback functionality. No bigger than a standard pen drive PenPower Technology Ltd.'s WeWa MP3 Player is a USB storage device that you can store a PowerPoint presentation to and it can also play back music stored on the drive. WeWa has a tiny LCD display for browsing tracks, an audio input jack, and a rechargeable battery.

You can even use the device for voice recording; a built-in digital recorder stores up to ten hours of spoken word recording. The WeWa is scheduled to ship early next year with the 128MB model selling for about US$100.

Similar models on the show floor were offered by AsiaZest.com and Titan Components; the BKL from Spectec comes with a tiny speaker.

Let Your Finger do the Locking

A company called ClipDrive has put a biometric fingerprint reader on a USB flash memory drive.

Called ClipDrive Biometric, this storage device can either be used to lock data on the drive itself or can be used with accompanying software as a key to lock up data on your desktop. A model with 16MB of storage is scheduled to begin shipping in the US in December priced at US$40.

USB Drives Read, See

If you like portable storage, Lucky Star has a three-in-one USB pen device juiced with card reader support for Secure Digital and Multi Media Card portable memory formats. A 32MB USB drive, called MobileDrive 3-in-1, is expected to cost US$60 and be available in the U.S. in early 2003.

KTI Networks has already released its Pen Drive + SD product. The 128MB USB pen drive runs US$84 and supports only SD memory cards.

On the drawing board from Alpha and Omega is a USB pen drive that doubles as a Web cam and a still camera. The prototype on display looked exactly like a USB pen drive except for a tiny little camera lens for snapping low-resolution photos on the go. The unit, which company representative say has yet to be named, also came with a mountable stand that the USB drive can snap into and become a Web cam. Pricing and availability is to be determined.

Desktop on a Key Chain

For creatures of habit, Optimal Access has a USB pen drive application, not hardware, that lets you save your desktop configuration, including shortcuts, documents, and bookmarks, and transfer it from PC to PC on a pen drive.

Called Mobile Desktop, this US$80 application can reside on any USB pen drive. When you sit down at any PC for the first time, just stick the pen drive into the client PC and then access it. Next, install the 6MB Mobile Desktop that is stored on your pen storage device.

The program installs in under a minute on the client PC and displays all your personalized settings, data, and bookmarks from your previous session. Any updates or changes you make to your desktop get saved to your Mobile desktop so when you walk away from the PC you can take documents and any new bookmarks or setting changes with you.

Mobile Desktop isn't limited to USB pen drives and will work with other portable storage options like Zip Disks. You can download a free trial version of the application that times out after 60 uses. You can also download a free desktop version of the program, from the company's Web site.

Note: Products mentioned in this story are just a sample of what is on offer to consumers worldwide. This does not necessarily imply each and all of the above mentioned products will be available in Australia.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Tom Spring

PC World
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?