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Now from Dell--the $920 hard drive

The 64GB solid state drive holds less data and costs nearly $1,000 more, but, hey, it's hip.

Consumers can now buy a notebook from Dell or its Alienware division that contains a 64GB hard drive made from flash memory.

And the upgrade will only cost you $920.

Dell is expanding its options for notebooks with drives built around flash memory. Earlier this year, the company began to sell a 32GB flash drive from Samsung as an upgrade option on some notebooks. This week, it has officially begun to sell Samsung's 64GB drive. You can swap out a regular hard drive for a 32GB or 64GB flash drive on the Dell XPS 1330 consumer notebook or get a 32GB or 64GB solid state drive on the Alienware Area 51 m9750 notebook. Alienware will also sell you a notebook with two 64GB drives in it to bring the total to 128GB.

The Alienware Area-51 m9750.

Flash memory drives are faster in some respects than traditional hard drives and are more durable, but they do cost more. They also hold less too.

How big is the discrepancy? The standard configuration of the Alienware notebook comes with a 160GB drive and costs $2,280. Swapping that out for a 32GB drive adds $320 to the price. So that's 1/5th the storage for $320 more.

Swapping in the 64GB drive adds $920 to the price. Again--less storage, but now your notebook costs $3,200.

You get a break on the dual 64GB configuration. That only adds $1,220 to the entire price. And at 128GB, you're almost at where you started.

But, hey, the miraculous declines in price in the flash world are busy at work. When I first checked this morning, the 64GB drive cost $1,000 more. See what prices you get.

The configuration details for the XPS weren't available when I checked.

One of the odd parts of this announcement is that Dell is marketing solid state drives to consumers. Samsung and SanDisk execs (as well as Seagate execs) have said that solid state drives are probably mostly interesting to corporate buyers, who use less storage space than consumers. (Consumers are expected to chew up a lot of disk space with video.)

Corporate users also could see a lot more benefits. Boot-up time is much shorter with flash drives. Microsoft Outlook comes up rapidly--it doesn't take seven minutes. A Samsung exec showed me this and I thought it was a faked demo. Nope, he said. He uses a flash notebook at work, and co-workers like to come by and see the Outlook trick. Notebook makers in the future will also cut out some of the bulk on their notebooks when shifting to flash. Flash takes less room.

Dell added that later in the year it expects to come out with flash-based drive options for its corporate notebooks and portable workstations.