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IVDR devices: Like flash cards, but with hard drives

They're small, they plug in easily, and these doodads pack a heck of a lot of storage that could come in handy for your video needs.

CHIBA, Japan--A group of about 50 companies is trying to put hard drives in your pocket.

Sanyo IVDR
An in-car entertainment system from Sanyo that uses an IVDR device. Michael Kanellos/CNET

The IVDR Consortium is developing technologies and prototypes that effectively allow hard drives to act as a portable storage device. (IVDR stands for "information versatile disk for removable usage.") Stick a 2.5-inch drive in a stylish case into a kiosk and download a movie. If you plop one into a video camera, you can record footage, and then you can stick it into a computer or video-editing machine.

Some IVDR products are already out. Some consortium members--there are about 50 including Hitachi and Toshiba--already sell branded drives. Hitachi has a TV on the market here that has a drive bay for an IVDR drive in the back. In November, a set-top box--which will function like a DVR with the drive inserted--hits the market here. In China, a professional video-editing machine in China has just debuted.

Some companies, like Sanyo and others here at the Ceatec show, have made in-car entertainment systems but not released them yet. In a sense, these hard-drive devices function like flash cards but have a lot more capacity. Flash cards hold 8GB or so at most. These drives hold 160GB.

But the big question is, are consumers going to lug a 2.5-inch drive to the video store to download a movie when they can just use Netflix?