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Memory Card Readers

Memory specialist Crucial has added three USB 2.0 memory card readers to its product list. The Hi-Speed USB 7-in-1 reader supports a bevy of formats: SD, MMC, CompactFlash, IBM Microdrive, SmartMedia, Memory Stick and Memory Stick Pro.

Unlike the new Hi-Speed USB CompactFlash reader and the Hi-Speed USB SD/MMC reader, the 7-in-1 box doesn't plug directly into the host PC's USB port. Instead it's connected by cable, but the wire retracts into the reader for easy storage. Each product comes with an extension cable in any case, not to mention Crucial's lifetime warranty.

All three cards work with 480Mbps USB 2.0 ports, as found on Apple's new iMacs and a host of Windows PCs, but are compatible with older USB 1.1-based systems. The 7-in-1 reader is priced at £16.99/€23.99, the SD/MMC reader at £10.99/€15.99, and the CF reader at £12.99/€18.99. Prices excludes sales tax.


Creative today rolled out the Inspire T series of speakers in the UK, three sets of woofers and tweeters, etc. designed to bring two-, five- and seven-channel sound to PC users.

Borrowing from hi-fi speaker design, Creative has built both high-range and mid-range drivers into each set's desktop speakers, yield a "clearer sound picture across the audio stage" - or more treble than PC speakers usually deliver, in other words.

The T2900 features two of these new 6W RMS satellites, plus a 17W RMS sub-woofer. The T5400 adds a second pair standard mid-range satellites to be placed behind the listener, and replaces the sub-woofer with a 22W RMS model.

The T7700 offers three new satellites (centre, and front left and right), plus four regular satellites, two each for rear left and rear right. There's a suitably beefy sub-woofer too. To make the most of the system, you'll need a 7.1 sound card, which can mix 5.1 sound across all eight speakers.

The three sets cost £69.99, £99.99 and £119.99 including UK sales tax, respectively.

Flash drive

Memorex has released its USB 2.0 Flash drive, the ThumbDrive. The key-shaped unit is available in 128, 256 and 512MB capacities now, with a 1GB version due early next year.

At just under three inches long and an inch wide, the ThumbDrive isn't the most compact Flash drive on the market. It also has a rubbed grip, which Memorex seems to believe is important. More useful, we'd say, is the write protection lock built into each unit, a feature missing from many rival products.

The silver and black ThumbDrive will be in stores this month at a suggested retail price of $59.99 for 128MB of storage, $99.99 for 256 MB of storage, and $179.99 for 512MB of storage. ®

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