Mobile Storage Choices Bloom

Sony readies Memory Stick based on 802.11; others advance DVD Multi drives.

With dozens of devices already available, users of removable data storage equipment are about to get even more choices.

At the TechXNY trade show here last week, Sony Corp. officials said the company plans to roll out versions of its Memory Stick technology that support wireless and smaller form factors.

In addition to considering selling its Bluetooth Sticks— which are available only in Japan—in the United States, Sony is considering developing Memory Sticks based on the Global Positioning System and 802.11 wireless networking standards.

In addition, the company announced last month a smaller form factor version of its Memory Stick called the Duo and a ROM version for vendors to write to and resell. Currently, the Memory Stick tops out at 128MB.

On the horizon from Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd., Hitachi Ltd. and the Panasonic division of Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. Ltd. are products based on the new DVD Multi standard. The drives, all due this month, support five formats in one device, DVD-RAM, DVD-R, DVD-RW, CD-RW and CD-R, said Shyh-Yeu Wang, executive director of the Tokyo-based Recordable DVD Council. By this fall, the drive specification will call for the support of two layers of data on each side of a disk.

These technologies join the multitude of other removable storage devices available and on display here, which ranged from CompactFlash cards and data tapes to Iomega Corp. Zip drives and optical disks and USB (Universal Serial Bus) key chain fobs. Also on display were recordable CDs and DVDs, USB- and FireWire-based hard drives, Secure Digital cards, and traditional floppy disks.

For users such as David Koretz, president and CEO of BlueTie Inc., a contact management application service provider, mixing mobile computing and storage is a challenge. Koretz carries an Eastman-Kodak Co. digital camera, a Palm Inc. handheld and a Dell Computer Corp. laptop.

"The annoyance seems to be that theres so many different platforms, and they dont interoperate well," said Koretz, in Rochester, N.Y. "The lack of a universal standard is frustrating."