Sony is planning to unveil long overdue higher-capacity versions of its Memory Stick at CES
(Consumer Electronics Show) taking place in Las Vegas from 9-12 January.

The company will unveil 256MB, 512MB and 1GB versions of the memory card at the show under the name Memory Stick Pro, according to a source familiar with Sony's plans. The cards, which are the product of development work between Sony and SanDisk, are expected to be unveiled during a keynote speech by Sony president Kunitake Ando on the first day of the event.

Officials from Sony and SanDisk declined to comment on their plans for CES.

The two companies began working together in September 01 with the goal of developing a higher performance and capacity successor to the existing Memory Stick format. As part of the deal SanDisk also began selling Sony's Memory Stick cards under its own name.

The next-generation cards to be announced at CES will represent the first capacity addition to the Memory Stick line-up in almost two years. Sony introduced a 128MB version of the card in the first quarter of 2001 and at about the same time a roadmap on the company's website was predicting a 256MB card in early 2002 to be followed by a 512MB edition in the middle of 2002.

Those cards never appeared much to the chagrin of users who complained in online forums about the apparent lack of progress on higher-capacity versions. Such cards are of most interest to users of digital music players and high-end digital still cameras. A 128MB stick provides enough room for just over 50 camera images, leaving many of its users, who are largely enthusiast or semi-professional photographers, no option but to carry around several cards to accommodate a day's shooting.

The company has since removed the roadmap and replaced it with a message saying plans are being updated. "We were more concerned about the quality [of the cards] than the capacity," said a company spokesperson of the roadmap's disappearance. The roadmap did, however, predict a 1GB card in early 2003 so, assuming the cards go on sale within the first half of 2003, Sony will be back on track.