Sony unveils Micro Vault USB storage device

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Sony will unveil today the Micro Vault USB-based storage media device that's designed to let you quickly transport and share files between computers without cables or adaptors. The device is due in January.

"We wanted to provide a product that made it easy and fast to transfer data in a Mac to PC, Mac to Mac, or PC to PC environment," Tom Evans, vice president of marketing for the media & application solutions division of Sony Electronics' Core Technology Solutions Company, told MacCentral. "And its transfer speed of 1.5MB per second offers very quick access. Especially among Mac users, there's a migration away from floppy disks and this provides an alternative to the floppy as a bridge from computer to computer."

The Micro Vault is about as long as a car key and thick as a highlighter pen. It plugs into any USB computer, including Macs. It's available in four models with storage capacities up to 128MB. Sony says the new media device stores any type of data, including digital still images, presentation materials and digital audio and video files.

"As part of Sony's strategy to offer a broad portfolio of media and storage solutions, our new Micro Vault storage media fulfills the growing demand for ultra-portable, quick file-transfer for mobile professionals and consumers," Evans said "As a Windows or Mac OS-capable device, Micro Vault storage media makes computer-to-computer data exchange simple and with the proliferation of USB-equipped computers Micro Vault storage media users can transfer data without additional cables, adaptors or driver software."

Through the device's plug-and-play capability, users can now take such large files as PowerPoint presentations that include high-resolution graphics, video clips and other multi-media elements, and instantly transfer them to another computer, designed for situations when portability and compatibility are important, he added.

Plug in the Micro Vault and a green LED display pulses to show it's connected. Begin transferring data and the LED flashes quickly. There's no external power supply, as the device is solely powered through the USB port.

The Micro Vault USB media device doesn't require software drivers when used with Mac O.S. 9.x and Mac OS X 10.x (it doesn't work with earlier versions of the Mac operating system). It offers true "plug and play," Evans said. It has a cap that acts as a cover and protector of the USB contact points and doubles as a way to attach the Micro Vault to a keychain or necklace.

The device also comes with Sony's new Security Zone software, which allows users to create a "security zone" on the device. Data within this zone is password-protected, ensuring the privacy of the files when the Micro Vault device is shared with others or if it is ever misplaced. At least it does if you're using the Micro Vault with Windows. The SecurityZone is Windows only for now, but Sony is looking at developing this functionality for the Mac, as well, Evans said.

Evans said that Sony sees the Micro Vault as a complement to their Memory Stick technology, not a competing format. Memory Stick is a Sony technology that's gaining ground in the flash storage media field.

"In many respects the Mico Vault is not as aspirational as the Memory Stick format," Evans said. "The Memory Stick is employed in variety of devices from camcorders to digital cameras to, now, LCD projectors and more. We've got a new CD-burner coming out that has a Memory Stick clot on it. The Micro Vault is more of a computer to computer transference method."

The Micro Vault USB device will be sold in stores and online. It will come color-coded according to storage capacity, including a 16MB (orange), 32MB (red), 64MB (blue) and 128MB (black) models for suggested list prices of US$49.99, $89.99, $149.99 and $299.99, respectively.

That pricing may seem high when compared to other storage methods. Evans said that for pure storage and archiving, media such as CD-R and DVD-R are more effective.

"But for the exchange and fast transfer of data, the Memory Vault has a significant value," he said.

This story, "Sony unveils Micro Vault USB storage device" was originally published by PCWorld.

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