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Security point: Sony’s new FVA-U1 is a finger-vein reader that plugs into your computer via a USB. The device is meant to protect computers from unauthorized users, externally at least. The rising popularity of vein-reading technology in Japan as a better means of securing data is praiseworthy, but a tad odd considering this country is one of the world’s safest. Regardless of unintended incongruity, Sony’s device is a league ahead of the usual password protection. The company is promoting the FVA-U1 as the world’s smallest and lightest USB finger-vein reader. Sony markets the biometric method used in the FVA-U1 as Mofiria with the user placing a finger on the small screen and an infrared LED checking the veins in the finger. This is then compared to a prerecorded pattern and if they match, the computer is free to use.

Nobody wants to add another device to their laptop package, but at only 33 grams and measuring 70 × 14.5 × 58 mm, the Sony gadget is pocketable. The device only works with Windows XP and Vista operating systems. It’s on sale from Dec. 18 and is expected to be around ¥30,000. www.sony.jp/CorporateCruise/Press/200912/09-1201/

Need for speed: Hard drives have expanded immensely in terms of their capacity. Unfortunately it is like putting a bigger fuel tank in your car — you can go further but without a better engine it takes a long time. Buffalo is trying to rev up hard-drive speed with the new USB 3.0 standard. With its HD-HU3 series, the company claims it can deliver transfer speeds of up to 130 megabytes per second using USB 3.0, some three times faster than the current standard USB 2.0. Considering that the smallest of the series is the 1-terabyte HD-H1.0TU3, and just how long it takes to move 1 terabyte of data, the extra pace is very desirable. If your budget extends to the HD-H2.0TU3 and its 2 terabytes of capacity then the greater velocity is almost mandatory if you don’t want a flashback to the days of dial-up Internet access. The drawback is that USB 3.0 is not out of the showrooms yet and for now you will remain mired at USB 2.0 standards.

Buffalo relies on more than the new tech standard, however. It has conjured a glossy black look with a slightly concave appearance that oozes class. Moreover, it comes with backup software for use with either Windows or Mac computers and, for PCs only unfortunately, an eco-friendly power-saving mode. The prices are, for the most part, also user-friendly. The HD-H1.0TU3 costs ¥18,900 with the HD-H1.5TU3 packing in an extra 500 gigabytes at ¥24,200. Pricing doesn’t quite compute with the HD-H2.0TU3, which will set you back ¥46,600. This is well over double the price of its 1-terabyte sibling even though it only has twice the capacity. The steeper cost may reflect the fact that 2-terabyte drives are still relatively new tech-wise and as such cost more. buffalo.jp/products/catalog/

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