SmartDisk pushes external drive capacity

SmartDisk has announced production of two external, USB, large-capacity hard drives that will support up to 120GB of data.

The 120GB USB 2.0 Portable Hard Drive will have a list price of US$300, and its 89GB sibling will be priced at $220. The drives will run cool without the noisy addition of a fan, and they should withstand considerable shock, according to SmartDisk. Both are scheduled to ship in late September.

Portable Backup

USB 2.0, the connection of choice for these drives, has turned external hard drives into easier and faster tools. They are especially useful for people who must move truly huge amounts of data--such as professional video--between PCs. An easily detachable hard drive is also nearly perfect for backup, allowing you to copy your entire hard drive without swapping discs. Few users, however, are willing to spend hundreds of dollars on backup media.

You can also use such a drive simply to add storage space for your MP3, photo, or video collection. Of course, a second internal drive can do this job at a faster speed and for less money, but an external drive is often much easier to install.

Speed, Size, and Power

Not that SmartDisk's USB drives are slouches in the speed department. According to SmartDisk, the drives will keep up with the port's highest speed--a hefty 480 megabits per second for USB 2.0.

At their heart, these are the same 3.5-inch drives that go inside your PC. But SmartDisk has wrapped them in a special case designed to keep the drive cool enough to eliminate the need for a fan--and with it a common customer complaint about noise. The case is made of a special aluminum alloy that, SmartDisk says, does a very good job of dissipating heat. To protect the drive from violent shocks, it's mounted to be "essentially floating" inside the case.

Given their twin priorities of keeping cool and providing a smooth ride, it's no surprise that these portables don't fit in a pocket. Each drive measures 4.875 by 7.375 by 1.5 inches. To help save desk space, they're designed to stand up vertically and lie down horizontally.

A USB port can power a modem or a flash RAM reader, but not a full-size hard drive. Both of these drives come with AC adapters.

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