Faster FireWire peripherals on the way

Following Apple Computer's announcement last week that its 17in high-end PowerBook will feature FireWire 800 -- the latest, faster form of the standard -- peripherals supporting this format have started to emerge. LaCie Group SA is among the first to market with its FireWire 800 external hard drives.

FireWire 800 offers data transfer speeds of 800Mbps, making it twice as fast as the existing FireWire 400. But the new standard is backwards compatible with the older version so you can still connect FireWire 800 devices to existing ports, although they will only run at the slower speed.

With capacities starting at 200GB rising to 500GB, La Cie is clearly aiming its new range of FireWire 800 drives at professional users who store huge graphics, multimedia and video files. But it is also targeting high-end consumers, such as audiophiles and video enthusiasts, who will benefit from the storage space -- a 250GB drive has room for up to 50,000 MP3 files or 16 hours of footage.

The drives can be used with Macs and PCs, and can be connected to six-pin FireWire and USB 2.0 ports as well as FireWire 800.

The drives will be available next month, with prices starting from approximately £299 for a 200GB drive. Australian release details are yet to be announced.

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Ursula Seymour

PC World
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