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Technology Review

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Sandisk new Sansa e200 MP3 player

A FLASH DRIVE MADE OF STRONGER STUFF

The dog will have a lot more trouble eating your homework when it's stored on Sandisk's Cruzer Titanium Flash Drive, a nearly indestructible flash drive that features 2 gigabytes of memory.

Packed in a patented Liquidmetal casing that's more than twice as strong as titanium, the USB 2.0 drive's retractable cap will never get lost. Included software automatically encrypts data. True nerds can even install a bootable Linux operating system on the drive. A 1GB version also is available.

DIGITAL MARRIAGE OF AUDIO RECORDER AND MP3 PLAYER

Sandisk's new Sansa e200 MP3 players do more than play music. They can capture it with a built-in FM tuner or record audio through a tiny embedded microphone. The one-button recording option is ideal for a lecture or for taking case notes without the need to fumble with an external microphone. Sounds can be played back through headphones or transferred to a computer.

But the devices are designed primarily for playing and storing music, which they do nicely using menus and controls familiar to any iPod user. Songs can be arranged by artists, albums, songs, genres and playlists, and pictures or movies are shown on a crisp but tiny 1.8-inch screen. Other features include a microSD port for additional expansion and a removable lithium ion battery that offers 20 hours of playback time and recharges through a USB port.

Content is managed with Windows Media Player, and the file transfer software works with Microsoft PlaysForSure and RealNetworks Rhapsody subscription services. The players (sold at www.sandisk.com) are available with 2GB, 4GB or 6GB of storage.

FOR GROWING COMPUTER FILES, A TINY PLACE TO STAY

With digital music, movies and photos, file sizes have become much larger since the days when text documents were the main items traded from PC to PC. But while files may be bigger, the portable drives that make it easy to store, swap and share them are becoming smaller — and Sony's new Micro Vault Tiny USB drives are some of the most minuscule yet.

Roughly an inch by half an inch and about as thick as a quarter, the Micro Vault Tiny lives up to its name in physical dimensions. The drive includes a program called Virtual Expander that compresses and decompresses files to allow up to three times as much data as usual to be put on the device.

The Micro Vault Tiny comes in four capacities, each with its own color: 256 megabytes in orange, 512 megabytes in violet, 1GB in blue and 2GB in green. A 4GB model in purple is due out soon.

The Tiny drives, available at www.sonystyle.com, work with most Windows and Macintosh systems and use either USB 2.0 or USB 1.1 connections.

WANT EVEN MORE RESOLUTION? TRY THIS CAMERA ON FOR SIZE

The slim Photosmart R967 from Hewlett-Packard is the company's latest entrant in the great megapixel race. This point-and-shoot camera has a 3x optical zoom and a large 3-inch screen to frame some extremely high-resolution 10-megapixel shots.

The R967 can also take video and comes with 32 megabytes of memory built in — although that won't hold very many full-resolution pictures. The camera relies on SD cards, not included, for increased storage.

The R967 also includes an anti-shake feature for reducing blur. It weighs about 283g and is less than 2.5cm thick. The camera is available through online retailers for US$449 and comes with software for both Windows and Mac.

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