November 5, 2003 12:06 PM PST

Tiny Toshiba drive gets a boost

Toshiba has increased the capacity of its small hard drive for portable electronics devices.

The company's Storage Device Division said Wednesday that it has revised its 1.8-inch hard drive in two models, one capable of storing 20GB of data and the other, 40GB.

The 1.8-inch drive, which has been used in products such as portable music players, is very similar to 2.5-inch hard drives found in notebook computers, but at about the size of a credit card is thinner and lighter.

The smaller size and weight make the 1.8-inch drives useful for handheld devices like Apple Computer's iPod, as well as personal digital assistants (PDAs), handheld GPS (Global Positioning System) devices and miniature notebook computers.

Apple may already be using the new 40GB drive. The company augmented the iPod player with 20GB and 40GB hard drives in September. A Toshiba representative, citing a confidentiality agreement, could not confirm that the drives are manufactured by Toshiba. But the representative noted that Toshiba's is currently the only 40GB, 1.8-inch hard drive on the market.

The 20GB and 40GB drives augment Toshiba's existing line of 1.8-inch drives, which are available in 5GB, 10GB, 15GB and 30GB sizes. The new 20GB drive replaces an earlier one with the same capacity.

"Toshiba continues to build on the 1.8-inch product line to deliver high-capacity drives capable of storing everything from digital music and photos to videos and presentations," Amy Dalphy, the manager of Toshiba's hard drive business unit, said in a statement. The company has also been expanding its manufacturing capacity for the drives to meet demand, she said.

Toshiba is no longer alone in selling a 1.8-inch hard drive for portable devices, however. Although its first 20GB, 1.8-inch hard drive was unchallenged for more than a year, the drive now faces competition from a Hitachi Global Storage product. Hitachi launched a competing line of 1.8-inch hard drives, which offers alternative 15GB and 20GB drives to device makers, this summer. Hitachi has yet to offer 30GB or 40GB drives as part of its 1.8-inch line, but it has won at least one major customer.

Dell uses the Hitachi drives in its new Digital Jukebox portable music player.

Meanwhile, even smaller hard drives are available. Start-up Cornice has created a 1-inch drive that can store 1.5GB of data, and it says a dozen companies have plans to use its drive in various devices.

 

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