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Iomega shipping new Clik drive

The external drive is designed as a storage option for all manner of digital devices, from cameras to handheld digital assistants to notebook computers.

    Iomega has begun shipping limited quantities of Clik, its removable drive for mobile digital devices, the company said today.

    The external drive is designed as a storage option for all manner of digital devices, from cameras to handheld digital assistants to notebook computers. Just in time for the holidays, Iomega today began shipping drive bundles with accessories for digital cameras, and expects to begin shipping mobile computing bundles shortly.

    When used with a digital camera, the Clik drive and disks are used as digital film, storing images downloaded directly from the camera. The drives will also be used as a storage option for devices based on Microsoft's Windows CE operating system, including handheld and palm-sized PCs.

    The Clik digital camera bundle includes a drive, the Clik Flash Memory Reader, which copies data from flash memory cards used in most digital cameras, and one 40MB Clik disk. The digital camera bundle will have an estimated retail price of $249.

    Clik offers a significant value proposition for digital camera users, analysts say, especially when compared with pricey flash memory cards. "You can spend a couple of hundred dollars easy on a Compact Flash memory card," said Carl Holec, an imaging analyst with ARS.

    "The advantage is that additional Compact Flash cards are still expensive right now. I think this makes a lot of sense for people who are taking lots of pictures away from their computer," he said.

    The drive itself weighs under seven ounces, with disks half the size of a credit card, according to Iomega. Disks will be priced around $10 each, and can be purchased in packs of two, four, or ten.

    Clik drives will eventually be built into the cameras themselves, replacing flash memory cards altogether. Digital camera maker Agfa is expected to announce such a camera in January. Additionally, PC maker Compaq Computer and consumer electronics company Sharp Electronics are also interested in "developing digital products incorporating Clik," according to Iomega.

    "The advantage of this is it's a 40MB card, for a relatively low price that you can put in that is going to store a lot of pictures, and then just swap it out," Holec said. "If you are a person taking a lot of pictures before getting back to your computer?it's a really nice alternative."

    Shipping early next year, the Clik drive for mobile computers will include the drive, one disk, a parallel port docking station, and a PC card adapter, Iomega said, and is expected to cost around $199. The Clik Drive Plus bundle, with all the accessories for both mobile computing and digital camera users, will be priced a $299.