Though the MacBook Air and ThinkPad X300 might be prettier and thinner, Toshiba's outdone them both in a crucial area.
Japan's Toshiba announced Monday that it had bumped the specs of its Dynabook SS RX to include a 128GB solid-state drive (SSD) as an option. That's twice the size of the Air and the X300, both of which come with a 64GB SSD. (Note: It's an option for the MacBook and standard on the ThinkPad.) So far, it appears it will be available only in Japan starting next month.
The 128GB SSD is an option, and the standard is an 80GB hard drive. Other specs include a 1.2-gigahertz Core 2 Duo U7600 processor and 2GB of memory. With the hard drive, Toshiba promises battery life of just over 6 hours, and with the flash drive, 12.5 hours.
Longer battery life is one of the principal benefits of using solid-state drives in PCs, as well as faster boot times, and because they lack the moving parts of traditional mechanical drives, less chance of losing data if you drop or bump the notebook. Also, they're lighter, thereby enabling notebook makers to slim their PC design down.
There's still a downside to SSDs. Price is the biggest one by far (an SSD option can double the price of a laptop with a traditional hard drive), but it also has the potential to wear out quicker than conventional drives.
Despite that, all the top hard drive makers are getting into the flash business. Samsung's vice president of memory marketing, Jim Elliot, said the company (currently ranked 4th in total hard drives shipped worldwide) expects the market share of solid-state memory to increase from 1 percent used in PCs today to 27 percent over the next three years.