Toshiba announced today that it is entering the portable drive market with 2.5-inch USB 2.0 portable drives ranging from 100 to 200 gigabytes.
The company said the 200 GB capacity was the highest of any drive in that form factor. To illustrate its size, Toshiba said it could store up to 57,000 digital photos, 52,000 MP3 songs, 88 DVD videos or, if you're really in a movie-going mood, up to 23 high-definition videos. The unit is less than an inch thick and smaller than a 4-by-6 inch photo print.
Toshiba, the world's fifth-largest hard drive manufacturer, now offers drives in this new "personal storage line" in 200 GB, 160 GB, 120 GB and 100 GB sizes. It is emphasizing the use of a portable drive as part of a backup solution, as many consumers or even businesses do not regularly backup.
"Each year, consumers are generating thousands of digital content files that represent cherished memories, beloved entertainment content and important family and business information, yet the notion of preserving this information with a backup solution is just beginning to take hold," Maciek Brzeski, Toshiba vice president of marketing, said in a statement.
"We have addressed a critical need for preserving digital memories for years to come," he said, "with a high-capacity, easy-to-use solution that takes the mystery and worry out of data backup."
Each unit comes with NTI Shadow software that allows for automatic backup once parameters are set and the drive is connected.
Mobile drives, of course, have extra hazards to avoid that their desktop-living cousins do not. The portable drives have a patent-pending shock mount system, which Toshiba said provides extra protection against normal wear and tear.
Mainstream Large Drives
Each drive is compatible with Windows and Mac operating systems, comes with a four-foot USB cable, and is certified for use in any USB port configuration. The units are now available, with a suggested manufacturer suggested retail price of $230 for the 200 GB, $180 for the 160 GB, $150 for the 120 GB, and $130 for the 100 GB.
Portable units up to 160 GB are also available from two Toshiba competitors -- Seagate Technology and Western Digital.
The new Toshiba drives, noted Jupiter Research analyst Michael Gartenberg, "underscore how mainstream large drives have become. Not long ago, it used to be that 100 GB or more was only used by graphics professionals."
But now, he said, all kinds of users "need the additional storage and the ability to take it with them, for music, video, and all sorts of files that are taking up space."
Some analysts predict portable drives will hit 250 GB before year's end. Industry research firm IDC predicts portable-drive sales will increase some 58 percent next year, to more than 6 million units from 3.8 million units shipped in 2006.