Flash Memory: is it memory or is it storage? SanDisk's new flash-based Cruzer product and its latest 1GB CompactFlash card blur the distinction. One thing is clear — none of it is cheap.

Nelson Chan, SanDisk's vice president of worldwide sales, calls the USB-based product a 'personal portable storage device'. It's due out sometimes next quarter.

The Cruzer (pictured), which will hold up to 256MB of information, is about the size of a cigarette lighter. You plug it directly into a USB port, no cables required. Not an innovation in itself — Sony's Microvault, for example, does the same thing.

The idea is to provide a simple, painless way of moving megabytes from one computer to another, Chan says. But this may not turn out as seamless as he hopes.

"We want to make [installing a Cruzer on another computer] as seamless as possible," he says. "But there may be drivers." There will also be optional password protection.

SanDisk's new 1GB CompactFlash Card, announced at the CeBit trade show in Hannover, can hold hundreds or even thousands of digital photographs. But that kind of storage comes at a steep price — around £570.

Announced last November and finally available in Europe it's the first Type I card to hold a full gigabyte of data.

Some Type II cards offer similar amounts of storage, but not all CompactFlash devices can accept a Type II card.

A 1GB CompactFlash card could help you carry your high-resolution digital camera through a long vacation without any worries that you'll run out of storage. With camera resolutions growing, people will undoubtedly want that expanded capacity.