Hitachi Announces 4 GB Microdrive

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As handhelds have become more capable, their users’ needs for file Storage have increased dramatically. This is especially true of multimedia files, which are usually quite large. To help meet these needs, Hitachi Global Storage Technologies has announced a Microdrive capable of storing 4 GB of data.

The Microdrive 3K4 series is the world’s smallest hard disk drive, weighing just over a half an ounce (16 grams) and equivalent in size to a matchbook. It uses the CompactFlash Type II standard and can be used in any handheld with one of these slots, including some iPAQs, Dell’s Axim X5 series, and Sony’s latest NX series models, though some of the iPAQs will need an adapter.

In addition to offering more storage than current Microdrives, this next generation is 70% faster.

Though 4 GB may seem like overkill to some, the maker points out that a full-length movie compressed with MPEG4 is 250 MB. In addition, a 5 megapixel digital camera — which is expected to be the standard for consumers in the near future — requires 1 MB of space for each image. And music stored as an MP3 needs 1 MB of space for each minute of recording.

Hitachi Global Storage Technologies is preparing to begin production of these Microdrives now. It expects them to be on store shelves in November, where they will sell for about $500. While this may seem expensive, a solid-state 4GB CompactFlash card recently debuted from Lexar for $1,400.

For those who still feel this is too high, the company will also release a 2 GB Microdrive by the end of this year and will continue to offer the 1 GB version. The 1 GB version can be found for less than $200.

A Bit of History

IBM introduced the first 1-inch Microdrive in 1999 with a capacity of 340 MB. In 2000, the capacity was increased to 1 GB. Last year, IBM sold most of its hard drive business to Hitachi and the two formed a new company called Hitachi Global Storage Technologies. Hitachi owns 70% of the company, IBM has 30%.

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