Toshiba boosts PC Card drive capacity

The hardware giant will begin selling its 5GB PC Card, a hard drive that can hold the equivalent of 3,472 floppy disks or 7 CDs worth of data.

Richard Shim Staff Writer, CNET News.com
Richard Shim
writes about gadgets big and small.
Richard Shim
2 min read
Toshiba continues to pack capacity into its PC Card hard drives.

The hardware giant will begin selling its 5GB Type II PC Card HDD hard drive at the end of the month for $499, Toshiba said Monday. The 1.8-inch card will be able to hold the equivalent of 3,472 floppy disks or 7 CDs worth of data for notebook PCs.

The company has had a $350 2GB version of the same card available since July 2000. However, the new 5GB version should generate more consumer interest because of its higher capacity, IDC analyst Dave Reinsel said.

"The card is targeted at notebook users as a sort of bridge device, allowing them to transfer files between notebooks, as well as backing up and archiving data," Reinsel said. "The higher 5GB capacity will prove more attractive than the 2GB."

Reinsel said the PC Card hard drive market is still in a "niche mode." But as the drives get closer to the current 10GB sweet spot, he added, the market should become more mainstream.

Hard drive manufacturers are still wondering whether they can make money in the PC Card hard drive business because of the high price tag and power consumption, Reinsel said.

PC Card hard drives are primarily used in notebooks right now. Consumer electronics devices, such as MP3 players and digital cameras, could be the next target. However, until consumer devices have a longer battery life, Reinsel said, the PC Card hard drive will be relegated to a sort of no-man's land.

That's because PC Card hard drives are more expensive than built-in, 2.5-inch notebook hard drives and consume more power than lower capacity storage options, such as IBM's 1GB Microdrive or flash memory.

As shipment and production volumes increase, PC Card hard drive prices are expected to come down. IDC estimates that 100,000 PC Card hard drives will ship this year, followed by 300,000 next year and 1 million units in 2003.

Reinsel added that a competing product from another recognized name would help the market mature. Toshiba is the big name in the market right now, though there are smaller companies making equivalent products.

The 5GB Type II PC Card HDD has an average seek time of 15 milliseconds and a rotational speed of 3,990 rpm.