Ben Wilson, www.NewsFactor.com Sony ( NYSE: SNE - news), long considered Apple's ( Nasdaq: AAPL - news) peer in terms of industrial design, is debuting two new CD-RW drives that match the latest Macs' stylistic flair. Geared toward desktop Macs, the external CRX1950U can write discs at 40X, rewrite discs at 12X and read discs at 48X. The CD-RW drive currently available with Apple's Power Mac line is capable of burning CDs at 24X, while the DVD-burning SuperDrive can master discs at 8X. "The CRX1950U 40X drive allows users to create a full CD-R disc in about three minutes," Sony spokesperson Heather Carlson told NewsFactor. The device carries a retail price tag of US$179. Tiny Road Warrior Building on the success of its CRX85U, Sony also unveiled a Discman-size CD-RW/DVD combination drive dubbed the CRXP-90MU, which will ship in July. That portable drive packs a slot for Sony's homegrown Memory Stick media, allowing users to transfer digital content directly to a CD-R/RW disc from such devices as digital cameras, PDAs (personal digital assistants) and other computers. Sporting a random access time of 160 milliseconds and an 8 MB memory buffer, the CRXP-90MU is priced at $299. Both of Sony's new drives come bundled with a suite of Macintosh ( news - web sites)-compatible software, including MusicMatch Jukebox for organizing audio files and Retrospect Express for data backup. The Case for USB 2.0 Sony has largely avoided implementing the Apple-invented FireWire standard in its storage devices, using the name "i.Link" as a reference to FireWire when it appears in the company's digital camcorders and related products. Instead, the firm has focused on USB 2.0, which allows transfer speeds of up to 480 megabits per second (Mbps), besting FireWire's current speed of 400 Mbps. However, experts debate which standard currently offers faster real-world throughput. Double the Speed The conflict between the two I/O standards is further clouded by the fact that several firms, including Apple, are hard at work on silicon for the next generation of FireWire, tentatively dubbed IEEE 1394b, which will double the standard's speed to 800 Mbps. "We will be sampling [IEEE] 1394b silicon in late June or early July," Initio spokesperson Jerry Steach told NewsFactor. Initio recently received a cash infusion from an undisclosed investor to spur development of host adapters and other necessary components for the next generation of FireWire. Apple's position on the issue will become clear at July's Macworld Expo ( news - web sites) in New York, when the company is expected to unveil new systems with expanded -- or at least modified -- I/O support.