Seagate demos its 5mm Laptop Ultrathin HDD in Android tablet

The new drive offers a low-cost alternative to SSDs and is targeted for use in its OEM partners' ultrathin notebooks and tablets.

Seagate's new 5mm Laptop Ultrathin HDD. Seagate

TAIPEI--At Computex 2013, Seagate announced its latest 5mm hard drive for laptops and tablets, the Laptop Ultrathin HDD. The 2.5-inch drive was first talked about last year, and will now start shipping to Seagate's OEM partners.

The Laptop Ultrathin HDD will come in 320GB and 500GB capacities and is wrapped in a steel, rather than aluminum, case for toughness. Standard laptop hard drives are typically 7mm or 9.5mm in thickness.

The new 5mm drive (top) compared with 7mm and 9.5mm drives from Seagate. John Chan/CNET

According to Seagate's Banseng Teh, senior VP and MD for Asia Pacific and Japan, there is a "demand for storage in tablets, but people don't want to pay for it." With a suggested retail price of US$89 for a 500GB drive, the Laptop Ultrathin HDD is a lot less expensive than the flash memory used in ultrathin notebooks or tablets.

In a demonstration, Teh showed off a prototype Android tablet sporting the new 500GB drive. He said it can be used just like any other tablet, and proceeded to shake it vigorously while running a movie trailer, without frames skipping.

While a mechanical drive will not be as hardy as an SSD, Teh added that the the Laptop Ultrathin HDD has Seagate's Zero-G sensor technology, which will park the hard drive head whenever it senses freefall movement to protect data.

Seagate's Banseng Teh demonstrates the company's new 5mm drive in a prototype tablet. John Chan/CNET

There will be tradeoffs in performance and battery life in tablets compared to those using SSDs, though Teh said that for the former, "OEMs could still design them with onboard flash memory" to improve performance.

Asus, Dell and Lenovo have committed to using the new hard drive in their products, though they did not specifically say that they will be offered in tablets.

 

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