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SanDisk is always trying to make the bland idea of a USB storage drive seem as hi-tech as possible. And its latest attempt to make flash flashy comes in the form of a drive equipped with a fingerprint scanner.

The Cruzer Profile gives customers that extra bit of security they've always been looking for in a USB storage device. Users will need to slide a finger across the device to gain access to their files.

"Usage of the Cruzer Profile will not require the loading of any applications on a computer," SanDisk said. "Fingerprint images will be stored on the Cruzer Profile. To provide a high degree of security and tamper protection, these images will not pass through or be placed on the computer at any time."

The device - about the size of a pack of gum - will start shipping in mid-April. A 512MB version should retail close to $100, while a 1GB version will cost close to $200. Lexar released a similar device last year called the JumpDrive TouchGuard.

Along with the new kit, SanDisk updated some older parts of its product line.

It has doubled the capacity of the xD-Picture Card with a 1GB version of the flash memory product. This card is used in conjunction with digital cameras from the likes of Olympus and Fuji. On average, a five-megapixel camera can store 800 images (high-quality setting) on the 1GB card. The new card also ships in April at a starting price of $140.

SanDisk has doubled the storage capacity of its Cruzer Titanium products as well by adding a 2GB device. The fatter flash drive arrives in April at a starting price of $250.

Flash memory may be straightforward, bordering on dull, but it is impressive to see vendors such as SanDisk and Lexar pack capacity into these suckers. ®

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