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Big floppy drives for notebooks

Taiwanese computer equipment makers plan to use new high-capacity 3.5-inch floppy drives in notebooks this year.

    Acer, Mitac, First International Computer, and other Taiwanese computer equipment makers plan to use new high-capacity 3.5-inch floppy drives in notebooks this year, offering users 120MB of data storage.

    The companies manufacture motherboards for a number of large PC makers such as Compaq Computer. Most of Taiwan's notebook makers have expressed interest in selling computers that come with LS-120 floppy drives, according to a recent report in the Commercial Times, a Taiwanese business daily. The article appeared in an online edition of Nikkei Business Publications.

    Earlier this week, Imation (IMN), one of the companies that jointly developed the technology with Compaq, OR Technologies, and Matsushita Electronics, said they expect the market for LS-120 floppies to grow considerably during the second half of the year. The growth will allow more companies to join a new alliance for production of LS-120 disks and drives, the report said.

    The LS-120 floppy drive provides 120MB of storage at five times the speed of a standard 1.44MB drive but can still read and write 1.44MB formatted data on the older disks.

    If the Taiwanese firms join the alliance, it increases the possibility that the high-capacity floppies will start appearing as standard equipment in notebooks this year. The drives would add anywhere from $70 to $110 to the cost of a notebook, but Taiwanese manufacturers said the added capacity and functions make the cost worthwhile, the report said.

    Mitsubishi was one of the first companies to announce that they will begin production of a new slim-line LS-120 drive as a replacement for existing 3.5-inch floppy drives in notebook PCs. Volume production of the slim-line drives won't be reached until July, according to the company.