A new media format is heading your way and if
Imation Corp. has anything to say about it, it will be Mac-ready and offer the flexibility to integrate flash memory formats easier and faster.
The new technology is called
DataPlay — a miniature, optical media the size of a quarter (see photo below). Announced at the recent
Consumer Electronics Show where it won the Best of Show award, the format is being supported and financially-backed by a number of electronics and entertainment powerhouses, including Paramount, Toshiba and Samsung.
DataPlay digital media is designed to let users download and record 500MB of digital content, ranging from computer files to music to books or games, on a single disc and play it back on any DataPlay-enabled device. The write-once format will store a staggering 11 hours of MP3-quality music, five hours of CD-quality music, 160 high-resolution still photos or two hours of MPEG 4 video.
Where Imation comes into the picture is its portable DiscGO! device, which will sell for around US$300. The handheld device — about the size of a StarTrek TriCorder — will be USB-ready and in addition to being a read/write storage unit, will work as an MP3 player as well.
“We’re excited about this product and it will be ready to ship in October,” Kent Schoenherr, program manager for Imation SuperDisk told MacCentral in the only interview with a Mac news organization. “We’re behind this new format because we think it provides a lot more flexibility and capacity than competitors (such as Iomega).”
Schoenherr said the DiscGO! will use rechargeable batteries as well as AC power.
Schoenherr commented that up until recently, he and his development team had not contemplated adding a headphone jack to the DiscGO! to make it a handheld MP3 player, but so many people at both CES and Macworld Expo thought it would make the product that much more powerful, that it appears to be a perfect fit.
“It would be very easy to add headphone capability and at a very small cost. We’re deciding now the exact features of the device and hope to finalize those soon,” he said.
What makes DiscGO! even more important is its ability to read and store flash memory files either to a DataPlay cartridge or directly to a Mac desktop. Imation plans on selling interface cartridges for about $10.00, which will allow users to take MemoryStick, CompactFlash or SmartMedia wafers, plug them into the end of DiscGO! and transfer files.
The only drawback to DataPlay is its write-once capability and the hassle of turning over the disc because of its single write head, but at 500MB capacity and discs selling for around $10, this format could have great potential with the ability to integrate more easily with flash media.
On a related front, Schoenherr said the chances look even stronger than they did back in November that Imation will no longer sell SuperDisk drives, contrary to other published reports. Imation will no longer be selling the current SuperDisk 1-inch, 120MB drive and it is possible it will not sell the new 240MB drive, made by Matsushita-Kotobuki Electronics Industries Ltd. “We are still evaluating options for this product,” he said.
Schoenherr emphasized that the company will continue to sell and support SuperDisk formatted diskettes/media, including 240MB media, and will support Imation branded SuperDisk drives that are already in the market today.
Schoenherr told MacCentral in an
exclusive interview last November that the company was contemplating not continuing development of SuperDisk drive products and concentrating its efforts on optical media devices.