USB 2.0 storage is a hit

LAS VEGAS'Most of the new storage peripherals this year at Comdex are connecting to fast Universal Serial Bus 2.0 ports because of the 480-Mbps maximum transfer rate and ease of setup. Wireless and even video connectivity are moving toward USB; until now they have been largely in 400-Mbps FireWire territory.

IOgear Inc. of Irvine, Calif., showed USB Bluetooth Class 3 key chains capable of transmitting Bluetooth wireless signals 330 feet between devices. That's more than twice the range of many IEEE 802.11b WiFi products.

Procomp Informatics USA Inc. of Fremont, Calif., used USB 2.0 links to display moving images from external hard drives and capture images from webcams. In the demos, there was little to no lag from webcams and absolutely no lag from external hard drives streaming motion pictures.

Meanwhile, most vendors of USB key-chain storage devices are incorporating either biometric technology or encryption. Lawrence Reusing, vice president of Memory Experts International of Montreal, said his company's new USB key-chain storage device with integrated fingerprint recognition is 'only the beginning' in the marriage between storage and authentication.

Memory Experts International's ClipDrive USB flash storage device has a silicon chip to encrypt data and restrict access. ClipDrive is available in sizes from 8M up to 1G.

Although security of data on small, portable storage devices is important, it's arguably more important to ensure that the devices don't break easily. Shecom Corp. of Yorba Linda, Calif., displayed one of the first semiruggedized USB 2.0 external drives. The Ikebana Slimline-Pro, priced from $260 for 40G, withstood dropping and splashing with water. A 60G version also is available.

The Flash USBDrive key chain from JMTek Corp. of Tacoma, Wash., could be submerged for several hours without compromising stored data, company officials said.

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