The world of storage media

Written by Brett Thomas

January 6, 2006 | 07:29

Tags: #flash #usb

Companies: #blu-ray

As I wandered into CES for the first day of the conference, one thing struck me as odd. Storage media companies are everywhere at this year's show. And I stupidly thought, how much could have evolved in the world of storage that would require the presence of so many companies, many of them very young and paying considerable expense to showcase here?

Next-gen optical

First on the list was the well-anticipated upcoming optical format war. In the ever-tumultuous soap opera that is Blu-Ray vs HD-DVD, another small battle has been decided. BenQ, a major manufacturer of optical drives, has opted to primarily favor Blu-ray with its first offering in next-generation media.

The drive will sport a 2.5x read/write of Blu-Ray single layer media, with hope of a dual layer version literally nipping on its heels. Though 2.5x sounds slow, one must remember that we're talking about starting out with a 25GB disc, with 50GB to follow in very short order. With the capacity differences, that means the initial drives should transfer byte for byte roughly equivalent to a 12x DVD burner.

Lightscribe

Also on display was the relatively new LightScribe system that is built into certain burners made by BenQ and HP. If you're unfamiliar with LightScribe (which I was until I witnessed it), it is a handy addition that allows you to flip an already burned DVD over in the drive, and burn a picture or label directly onto the other side, with no need for a printer. Though this label can only be monochrome, it provides an incredibly professional finish and makes for a stylish and simple way to label DVD and CD-R media.

Speaking of media, the discs for LightScribe have been difficult to obtain lately. Even with its relatively new offering, people have loved the feature so much that brick and mortar stores who carry the media often find themselves sold out. So we took a wander over to Verbatim to see what the real deal was, as well as check out the latest in media storage innovation.

Verbatim assured me that production of the LightScribe discs has been increased, and also showed me their newest upcoming product, the U3 4GB pen drive. Not only are we up to 4.0GB on a USB key, but it actively supports U3 applications, which allow themselves to be headquartered on the drive directly instead of on a computer. This means that you can take your programs with you wherever you may go, without the need for installing or configuring preferences. A handy thing indeed!

USB keys

Even with all of this going on in the world of computer media, finding yet another cool innovation in storage was no farther than the next booth. Both [eurl=www.adatausa.com]A-Data[/eurl] and [eurl=www.mydidigo.com]Didigo[/eurl] brought us innovative USB keys with BCD (Bi-stable Cholesteric Display). This screen stays on even when the USB key is unplugged and displays the drive volume label, the number of megabytes still free, and a pie chart illustrating space used. These drives are available in sizes from 128mb up to 4GB, and both manufacturers produce them in a number of colors (though the displays are solely shades of blue/white).

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