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02:50 PM

New Flash Drives Also Run Apps

Startup U3 launches USB-based flash drives that not only store files, but also run applications.

Startup U3 LLC on Monday launched its smart drive U3 technology that lets USB-based flash drives not only store files, but also run applications.

A pair of U3 partners, Verbatim and Memorex, rolled out Store 'n' Go- and TravelDrive-branded drives, respectively, at the Demo conference, which opened Monday in Huntington Beach, Calif.

The U3 platform is aimed at mobile users or those who frequently share PCs with others, since the resulting drives are touted as complete workspaces on a key fob-sized device.

"This marks the first available plug-and-play way for consumers to carry and access their personal workspace without having to lug a laptop around," said U3 chief executive Kate Purmal in a statement. "Whether on the home or office PC, computer at a family member or a friend's house, hotel business center, print shop or Internet caf, consumers will enjoy the ability to check e-mail, edit a document, view photos, play a game, listen to music from their playlist or surf the Web, all in a safe and trusted environment that's completely mobile and all stored in just one place."

Off-the-shelf applications must be modified to run from the USB drives, but on Monday Purmal demonstrated anti-virus, music playing, IM, and VoIP software running from U3-compliant flash drives.

Several USB drive makers, including Memorex, Verbatim, Kingston, and SanDisk, will begin shipping U3 devices Oct. 15, added Purmal. Memorex's drive, for example, will ship in sizes ranging from 256MB ($30) and 1GB ($90) to 2GB ($180).

The U3 platform currently works only on Windows 2000 and Windows XP PCs.

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