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Iomega introduces portable drive

Iomega unveils its latest entry in the data storage device market, a mobile drive for use in digital cameras, handheld computers, and other portables.

Iomega is looking at the small picture.

Closely following its announcement of a notebook version of its 100MB Zip drive (see related story), the company today unveiled a drive and disk designed for use with digital cameras and handheld computing devices.

Iomega's clik products may help speed widespread consumer acceptance of digital photography. With current digital cameras, photos must be downloaded to a computer before a new round is taken. But the 40MB clik disk could become the digital, reusable version of a roll of film. Roughly the size of a silver dollar, the disk can store between 25 and 50 digital photographs.

Digital photography storage is only one of clik's potential applications. Iomega envisions clik drives built into handheld computing devices such as personal digital assistants and also into printers and projectors.

The drives will cost about $200, the disks about $10. The price tag may be the disk's best asset in the struggle to gain market acceptance.

"A disk that takes 25 to 50 pictures for $9.95, that's a breakthrough," said an Iomega official in a conference call today. "This has the opportunity to dramatically improve cost and quality for a broad consumer base."

In addition to the drive and disk, Iomega will make accessories including a rechargeable battery pack, a means of transferring data from flash memory cards to the clik disk, docking stations for connection to desktop computers, and other adapters for connection to portable computing devices.

Iomega's clik disks will ship to domestic OEM manufacturers in the second half of 1998, with shipments to Europe and Asia to follow. Matsushita and Citizen Watch signed letters of intent to license, sell, and manufacture clik drives. Iomega further announced an alliance with Zoran to use that company's image compression technology in conjunction with the drives for digital photography.

Yesterday, Iomega announced OEM shipments of its Zip drive for notebook PCs. The 15-mm removable drive will be available for PC and Macintosh portables.