CES 2002: SanDisk has today announced "Cruzer", a USB compatible device which is compatible with SD / MMC storage cards. It's essentially a USB "jacket" for these storage cards. Thanks to the "mass storage class" USB device standard the Cruzer can be plugged into any modern operating system without the requirement for drivers. A 128 MB Cruzer will cost you $99.99.

Phil: sounds like a pocket sized SD / MMC card reader to me... It might be nice if they did a Firewire version too (I might even buy that)...

Press release:

SANDISK INTRODUCES CRUZER, WORLD'S FIRST PERSONAL, POCKET-SIZE STORAGE DEVICE WITH REMOVABLE FLASH MEMORY CARDS

First-Of-A-Kind Product For The Data Transport Market Made Possible Through Recent Dramatic Price Decline Of Flash Memory Cruzer Will Put Pictures, Songs And Data In Your Pocket

LAS VEGAS, NV, Jan. 7, 2002 - SanDisk Corporation (NASDAQ:SNDK) today introduced Cruzer*, the world's first portable, pocket-size storage device with removable and upgradeable flash memory cards. The personal storage device, about three inches long, one and three-fourth inches wide and about three-quarters of an inch thick, can be slipped into a pocket or purse for easy transport of personal computer data files, image files, video and audio between homes, offices and other locations where one would like to take their personal files and information. The Cruzer will accommodate both SD cards and MultiMediaCards, two extremely compact size storage cards that have wide industry support.

The SanDisk Cruzer was introduced at the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) at the Las Vegas Convention Center where SanDisk is showing products in booth 11511.

Wes Brewer, SanDisk's director of business development, said, "It is rare that a new storage product can be described as 'unique'. Cruzer is unique because it is the first pocket-size, personal data storage device that is fully compatible with both PCs and consumer electronic devices. Up to now, all small flash storage devices were either PC centric or consumer electronic centric and could not be upgraded by the user. Cruzer provides the connectivity to both the PC/notebook environment and the consumer electronic appliance and also has a unique, stylish, highly ergonomic design."

He added that "Cruzer fills a void in the portable storage market today that neither floppy disks nor memory cards can address. Floppy disks cannot be used in many electronic products because they are too large and lack adequate capacity. With memory cards, there are several different incompatible card formats and this prevents many of the cards from being used in various electronic systems. Cruzer helps to bridge those problems because it plugs into the industry-standard USB port that is built into desktop PCs, portable notebook computers and numerous other products, while its removable storage medium can also easily link the PC to a broad array of consumer electronics devices such as digital cameras, music players and PDAs that have an SD or MultiMediaCard slot."

Eric Bone, retail product marketing manager, added, "The Cruzer is targeted at today's active, on-the-go lifestyle. Today, people want to conveniently carry some of their music to a friend's house to share the sounds. They want to take some new photos to a family gathering to show them to their relatives. And those in business surely would find it much more convenient to carry their electronic presentation in their pocket, rather than a laptop when they travel, and just plug the Cruzer into a USB port at their destination. The promise of the 'network everywhere' still has not occurred and the physical transfer of data is still highly practical with consumers. The Cruzer allows them to carry and move that personal data in a secure, reliable, solid-state device."

"Cruzer is the ideal truly portable personal storage device," said J. Gerry Purdy, Ph.D., CEO of Mobile Insights in Mountain View, CA. "With Cruzer, mobile professionals will have an upgradeable storage system that can operate on millions of PCs in the world. Cruzer benefits from the dramatic price reductions in flash memory in the past year, which bring the price of a 128 megabyte (MB) Cruzer to parity with the price of a 100MB Zip drive."

Cruzers initially will be available in four capacities - 32, 64, 128 and 256MB. Consumers could, for example, store 35 to 70 songs (depending on compression scheme used) on a 128MB Cruzer or at least 64 high-resolution images on a 64MB Cruzer. More than 40,000 pages of double-spaced text could be stored on a 32MB Cruzer. As higher capacity cards become available users will be able to upgrade their Cruzers to these higher capacities.

Cruzer features Mass Storage Class (MSC) compliance, which allows for true "Plug-and-Play" operation when used with Windows 2000, Millennium Edition (ME) and XP. MSC is natively supported in Windows 2000, ME, XP, Apple OS 9.X and OS X which means consumers do not need to install an extra driver to use Cruzer. Cruzers also work with Microsoft Windows 98 and Macintosh computers with Mac OS 8.6 and USB support. Cruzer production units will include software passwords for enhanced protection of personal files.

The Cruzer's advantages over floppy disks include higher capacities to store more files, data transfer speeds that are at least 10 times faster and a much more compact and robust design.

It is expected that the Cruzer will be available early in the second quarter of 2002 in many of the 38,000 retail stores worldwide where SanDisk-branded products are sold. The device is expected to sell, depending on capacity, at prices ranging from $59.95 to $199.95. It is expected that the 128MB Cruzer will sell for $99.95.