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Sony puts finger on flash drives

The electronics giant announces four new USB storage products, including one with a fingerprint ID system to replace passwords for Web site access.

Sony thinks it has the right touch with flash drives.

The Japanese electronics giant introduced four storage products on Tuesday, including one with a fingerprint identification system to replace passwords or IDs for Web site access. The devices are based on USB (universal serial bus) technology.

"Popularity in the USB storage media category is soaring," Michael Lucas, Sony Electronics director of consumer and convergent media, said in statement. "In fact, it's more than doubled each quarter for the past year."

Sony's Micro Vault with Fingerprint Access, a device the length of a key and width of a highlighter pen, has 128MB of storage capacity and a sensor for reading fingerprints. The product can store ID and password information for a number of Web sites. When attached to a PC, and when a user goes to one of the sites, a touch of the sensor will provide access, according to Sony. There is also a screensaver "lock" that protects against unauthorized computer access, the company said.

Sony's Micro Vault with Fingerprint Access Consumers and business users may be interested in the device, because it offers both convenience and security, according to Sony.

The product is slated to be available in the United States this month, priced at about $140.

The other Sony storage releases were a Micro Vault that incorporates a Memory Stick media reader/writer; a smaller-size Micro Vault; and a version of its Micro Vault "Original" that increases the capacity from 256MB to 512MB.

The products are examples of USB flash drives, which store information on silicon-chip flash memory and connect to computers through USB ports. The portable devices can be used to transfer data such as presentations and financial reports.

Sony isn't the only company making portable USB storage devices. Others include M-Systems and PenDrive.com.