The new SanDisk Ultra Backup USB Flash Drive doesn't want to be just another garden variety flash drive that you toss in a drawer. To avoid that fate, SanDisk has added a small backup button to the drive, which is roughly the size of an index finger. The button is designed to make it easier to back up critical data with less muss and fuss than an external hard drive might require.
The drive has a retractable USB connector that slides inside the unit, so you have no caps to lose (and no cables to deal with, as you would with an external hard drive). The integrated software (a collaboration between SanDisk and Dmailer) requires no installation; plug in the drive, and it goes to work. It asks you what file types you want to back up and initiates a backup when you connect the drive. The button on the unit also lets you initiate backups, too, and you also can schedule incremental backups.
You can expect to pay up to a 15 percent premium for this drive's added backup features: This model, due out in April in a range of capacities, will cost $40 for 8GB and up to $200 for a 64GB drive.
This product could clearly have a role in a backup strategy, but I'm skeptical about how viable it will be--especially when put against the competition of a 500GB hard drive for under two bills. It's not clear to me that the integrated button and software alone will be enough of a sell, particularly given how generic USB drives are often perceived as being.
In addition to the new Ultra Backup drives, SanDisk has refreshed the look of its Cruzer line of flash drives.
For more news from CES, check out our complete coverage of CES 2009.