Sometimes, good things do come in small packages. The Cruzer line of U3 Smart Drives from SanDisk
I know, I know, that's a lot of geek-speak. What does it all mean?
U3 is not Bono's new band
The U3 platform, codeveloped by SanDisk and the modestly named M-Systems Flash Disk Pioneers
U3 drives use some very Windows-specific trickery for this feat, convincing the operating system that part of the USB drive is really a CD-ROM, so that the manager application can start automatically every time you plug the drive in.
Supported packages so far include multiprotocol instant-messaging app Trillian, the aforementioned Mozilla Firefox browser and its mail-reader cousin Thunderbird, and media player WinAmp from Time Warner subsidiary NullSoft. Skype has long been on the supported application wish list, and now that it's here, only SanDisk players will ship with Skype preinstalled, thanks to an exclusive agreement. Owners of U3 devices from makers like Imation brand Memorex or the Best Buy
The U3 concept sounds great on paper, but it does have its weaknesses and quirks. It only works with U3-certified programs that have been specially coded to support the portability features. Although the programs you run from a U3 drive should remove all traces of themselves when you unplug the drive, several reviews say that some files often stay behind.
But perhaps most significantly, U3 is tied specifically to Microsoft
You may also note the absence of Lexar, Micron's
But all in all, U3 drives do look good, and the Skype addition might give the technology a shot in the arm. The portable storage market is moving away from simple, commoditized drives, toward more innovative spins on what those drives can do. For market leaders and innovators like SanDisk, this can only be a good thing.
Further Foolishness in a flash:
- Here's a look at what Lexar means to Micron.
- And for that matter, what flash memory means to SanDisk.
- If you really did want to read about U2, not U3, we've got you covered.
- Could any of these companies become Rule Breakers?
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