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Sony gives memory some stick

Chewing gum-sized storage medium definitely mintier than Zip, claim Comdex attendees

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As thick as a piece of Wrigley's chewing gum and no longer than the severed little finger of a contrite member of the Yakuza, the Memory Stick could become the 'must have' storage gadget for next year. A portable, re-recordable memory drive, the Memory Stick can save digital photos, data, music -- in fact anything that can be stored on a traditional disk. It's ingenuity lies in the fact that it's so small: only a couple of millimetres thick and 40mm long. Created by Sony, the device can be inserted into a range of products as a means of transferring data. Showing off their latest miniature technowizardry at Comdex last week, Sony demonstrated how a digital photo could be captured on a Memory Stick and transferred to someone else using phones fitted with memory stick drives. It also showed how music could be recorded and played back. Although Sony has included memory stick drives in a few digital cameras in Japan, in future they could be incorporated into personal stereos, set-top boxes, remote controls and electronic books. Sharp, Olympus, Casio, Aiwa, Sanyo and Fujitsu have all said they will support the technology and other agreements are in the pipeline, the company says. Sony used Comdex to launch the product onto the US market and is working round the clock to build support technology for the product. A 4MB Memory Stick sells for around $30. The 8MB version is available for $40. Sony says it will release 16MB and 32MB versions in the spring. Sony also unveiled its prototype electronic tablet aimed at non-PC users. Although still in its early stages, the Single Media Activated Platform (SMAP) could be used as an electronic book, an Internet reading device, e-mail platform or a hand-held personal digital assistant (PDA). In effect, the SMAP acts like a blank piece of paper. Its function is dependent on which PC Card controller is inserted into the machine, turning it from, say, a PDA to an electronic book in seconds. The SMAP prototypes on display featured a MIPS processor, 140MB memory and a 12.1in screen. Data is entered via touch panel or a keyboard. ®

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