It’s long been a stereotype that technology keeps making things smaller. Here’s the latest example: a 60Gb ($149.99) or 100Gb ($199.99) Maxtor OneTouch III Mini Edition external USB hard drive, weighing in at 7 ounces and built to be thrown into a briefcase. If the drive is going to be used for sensitive data, built-in firmware guards the data with a password. It’s very small and built with rubber shock absorbers – very cool if you need to move a lot of data from place to place.

There’s another new kind of technology to keep an eye on. Some USB flash drives are “U3-compatible,” which means they can store and run programs directly from the flash drive without using the hard drive on the host computer at all – no trace is left on the host computer that the programs were run. This is still brand new and the available programs aren’t very compelling yet, but you can already get a sense of where it’s going. On this drive, for example, there’s a password manager (look up all your passwords without fear of leaving any info behind), an Internet browser with all your links to favorites places, and a photo browser. It’s hard to predict if U3 will become the standard, but the idea of truly portable computing seems to be getting closer.

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