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Iomega inches closer to mini-storage

Portable electronics makers are evaluating a new detachable storage drive from Iomega that holds 1.5GB in a cartridge the size of a half-dollar.

Iomega has unveiled details of a small, detachable storage drive it is developing for portable electronics gadgets.

The 1.5GB device, dubbed Digital Capture Technology, or DCT, uses a combination of hard drive technology created by Iomega and technology licensed from partner Fuji Photo Film, a digital camera maker.

The drive's main component is a removable, disc-shaped cartridge that is about the size of a U.S. half-dollar, or roughly 1.5 inches in diameter, Iomega said Tuesday. It can be inserted into a slot built into a portable device or accessed using a USB (universal serial bus) connection, a representative for the San Diego-based company said.

Iomega, which has seen its once widespread Zip drive suffer a decline in popularity, has released several products in a double-pronged effort to tap the consumer and the corporate markets. Earlier this year, it introduced a multiformat DVD burner drive. It also recently launched network-attached storage products for companies.

Iomega plans to unveil several other products over the next few months, the representative said.

The storage device maker is shipping sample versions of the DCT drive to a number of device manufacturers, it said. These include makers of electronics devices such as camcorders and portable video players, as well as companies that produce PDAs, cellular phones and notebook computers. The manufacturers are evaluating the technology for use in future products, according to the Iomega representative.

The evaluation is likely to focus on how well the DCT drive allows people to store a variety of data--such as MP3 files, short video clips, digital photos and contact databases--on portable electronics gadgets.

Iomega hopes the drive will be accepted as a method of sharing data between such devices. But DCT will find stiff competition from a number of storage devices, including Hitachi Global Storage's Microdrive and storage cards that use the Compact Flash and Secure Digital formats. Compact Flash cards with capacities of 1GB and 2GB and are now available from companies like Lexar Media. Lexar's 2GB card costs $699.

DCT won't be available in products until the second quarter of 2004, Iomega said. It did not release an exact ship date or pricing for the new drive on Tuesday.