Toshiba has moved into the lead in the small form factor mobile storage race, introducing a 2.5-inch USB 2.0 portable external hard drive with a 200GB capacity.
The device, from Toshibas storage device division in Irvine, Calif., complements the companys existing 2.5-inch mobile storage device line, which also includes devices with capacities of 160GB, 120GB and 100GB. The unit, which easily fits into a shirt pocket, is compatible with Microsoft Windows 2000, XP and Vista, as well as Macintosh OS X 10.3.9 or later.
Other useful features include a shock-mounting system that allows the units to more easily survive rough treatment such as dropping, and an aluminum-wrapped chassis to optimize heat dissipation along with cooling vents to channel heat out of the unit.
Although its largely targeted at the consumer market, the device has plenty of applicability for the business world. In addition to being useful for specialty applications requiring large amounts of storage like CAD (Computer-Aided Design) drawings in the engineering world and medical images and records in health care, the device is useful for corporate employees who travel extensively and need a way to transport data.
But whats really different about this external hard drive is ease of use, said Maciek Brzeski, vice president of marketing in Toshibas storage device division.
"We looked at other external hard drives, and they all seemed to be too complicated," Brzeski said. "They all needed external power supplies or complicated software, and there were buttons to press to make things happen. We wanted something that installs easily but gives you the confidence that its running in the background and keeps up-to-date backups for you. So all you do is plug it into your laptop, install the CD, and youre finished. From there it will back up your data however you set it up."
Although Toshiba is the first to market with a 200GB capacity 2.5-inch external hard drive, it isnt the first company to debut a 2.5-inch external hard drive. That distinction goes to competitors like Western Digital and Seagate, both of which currently offer 160GB versions.
Both eventually will offer 200GB products, predicted John Rydning, research manager for hard disk drives for IDC, of Framingham, Mass.
The growth of the 2.5-inch external hard drive market, however, is a sign that the smaller form factor drives have arrived.
"Its a sign that the 2.5-inch market is coming into its own for personal storage and external hard drives, because capacities are growing to the point where they are at least equal to, or in some cases larger than, the capacity of desktop hard drives," Rydning said.
Moving aggressively into this market is a good move for Toshiba, Rydning added.
"They make PCs, they have good brand recognition and they manufacture hard drives, so its a good fit," he said. "They have the capacity, the brand name and the channels. It will help them stand out in a crowded marketplace."
Toshibas 200GB 2.5-inch external hard drives will begin shipping at the end of April, at a list price of $229.99.