CES Rolls Out Red Carpet For Storage

New storage devices are helping to continue narrowing the divide between IT and consumer electronics products as evidenced by a rash of new releases at the Consumer Electronics Show, being held this week in Las Vegas.

Storage vendors are taking advantage of CES, which has become the new Mecca for all things IT in the years since the closure of the Comdex exhibition, to exhibit a variety of storage drives, arrays, software, and related products with applicability to both business and home users and their solution providers.

Toshiba Storage Device Division, a division of Toshiba America Information Systems, Irvine, Calif., used CES to introduce its entry into the 1.8-inch external hard drive market and introduce what it calls the industry's highest-capacity 2.5-inch external hard drive.

The company's new USB 2.0 Mobile External Hard Drive is built around a 1.8-inch hard drive, and will be available in 60-GByte, 80-GByte, and 120-GByte models. It is aimed at mobile users looking for the portability of a USB flash drive with the high capacity of a hard drive, the company said Monday.

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Going forward, Toshiba plans to include encryption and backup software with the new external drives in order to protect data should the drives be lost or stolen.

Toshiba is also using CES to expand its line of 2.5-inch external hard disk drives with a new 320-GByte version. Like the existing 250-Gbyte and 160-Gbyte models, the 320-Gbyte version includes a USB 2.0 interface and NIT Shadow software to handle the backing up of stored files.

The new 1.8-inch external hard drives are slated to ship this spring, while the 2.5-inch 320-GByte external hard drive is slated to ship this month.

Seagate, which until a couple years ago was known as a hard drive manufacturer but has since expanded rapidly into a provider of a variety of products and services for businesses and consumers looking to store and protect data, used CES to unveil its Digital Audio Video Experience (D.A.V.E.) technology platform.

D.A.V.E. is a mobile wireless storage platform that lets downloading, storage, and layback of photos, music, video and business documents to the users' own device. It allows digital data to be brought to users' devices without the need to alter those devices.

D.A.V.E. is compatible with industry standard protocols including USB, USB On The Go, Bluetooth 2.0 EDN and WiFi 802.11b/g. In addition to being a stand-along product, D.A.V.E. technology is available to telcos and OEMs to integrate with their products.

The D.A.V.E. platform includes 60 Gbytes of capacity, and connects to devices up to 30 feet away. The battery allows up to 10 hours of operation.

Seagate used CES to also unveil several partnerships around its D.A.V.E. platform. The first is a partnership with PortoMedia, of Galway, Ireland, which allows users to download up to 12 high-definition movies or 50 standard definition movies for transfer to playback devices such as cell phones and laptop or desktop PCs.

The second is with Sanyo Electric, of Osaka, Japan, under which D.A.V.E. will provide wireless storage capacity for Sanyo's Hi-Def Xacti Digital Movie Camera.

Seagate is also working with Harman/Becker Automotive Systems, a division of Harman International, Karlsbad, Germany, to incorporate D.A.V.E. technology into future multimedia system applications that can be used by automotive manufacturers to provide customers with a wireless storage upgrade for users while in their vehicles.

Seagate is also looking to help customers protect their data with the Maxtor BlackArmor storage solution. BlackArmor is an AES government-grade encrypting portable external storage device with a 2.5-inch, 160-Gbyte hard drive. List price is $149.

Next: More from Seagate, plus products from Imation, Intel, Netgear and others

Also new from Seagate is Central Axis, a software upgrade that provides secure remote access and file sharing for existing Maxtor Shared Storage II network drives.

Seagate acquired Maxtor in May of 2006.

Also new from Seagate at CES is its new PipeLineHD series of hard drives built specifically for digital video recorders. The PipeLineHD series come in capacities ranging from 320 Gbytes to 1 Tbyte, and work in enclosures with temperatures of up to 187 degrees F. Seagate claims the drives also run virtually silent.

Imation is also continuing to evolve itself as it moves from its roots as a tape vendor to become brand and product management company. At CES, the Oakdale, Minn.-based company showed a new version of its Imation Pivot Plus Flash Drive with advanced security options. It also unveiled new Memorex-branded Blu-ray disks and DVD disks.

Imation also previewed a mobile USB adapter to allow customers to use its removeable Odyssey disk cartridges without the need of a docking station.

Imation also unveiled a strategic relationship with Mtron to distribute the Seoul, South Korea-based manufacturer's line of solid state drives. Imation expects to release Imation-branded solid state drives with the logo "powered by Mtron" during the first quarter of this year.

The Imation SSD MOBI 3000 has a maximum read speed of 100 Mbytes per second and a maximum write speed of 80 Mbytes per second. It also features a random access time of 0.1ms. The Imation SSD PRO 7000 features a maximum read speed of 120 Mbytes per second, maximum write speed of 90 Mbytes per second, and random access time of under 0.1ms.

Netgear, Santa Clara, Calif., on Monday unveiled a number of network-attached storage solution for the SOHO market under its ReadyNAS Duo brand. The NAS products include space for one or two hard drives in capacities of up to 1 Tbyte each, and include a front-mounted USB port for easy connection of devices such as digital cameras for copying of digital data. They also support BitTorrent for downloading digital entertainment content, as well as mirroring between two hard drives to protect data from a hard drive failure. Also included is continuous data protection software to ensure that changes to data are backed up automatically as they occur. They are expected to start shipping late this quarter with prices starting at $499 with a single 500-Tbyte hard drive.

Intel on Tuesday introduced a new whitebox storage array, the Intel Entry Storage System SS4200-E, featuring a new SOHO software from EMC, the Hopkinton, Mass.-based storage giant. The EMC LifeLine OEM software is aimed at helping small office and home office users centralize and protect all digital files in a single location and make them available for use by any networked device at any time.

The CE-ATA Promoter Group, an organization of disk drive and handheld consumer product vendors, said at CES that it is working on version 2.0 of its CE-ATA specification. CE-ATA is a specification for how hard drives interface with portable consumer electronics and portable computing devices.

With version 2.0, interface speed is slated to increase to over 100 Mbytes per second to increase mobile device storage performance. The new specification also eliminates the requirements that I/O devices be 3.3-volt tolerant in order to reduce power consumption. Devices supporting the standard could be available by early 2009, the organization said.

Fabrik, San Mateo, Calif., unveiled a new family of SimpleTech-branded external storage devices for PCs and Apple Macintosh computers featuring a range of colors such as blueberry, black cherry, cool mint, kiwi, marshmallow, bubblegum, and espresso. The portable drives, with capacities of up to 320 Gbytes, come in an Italian-designed enclosure. It includes local backup software as well as 2 Gbytes of free online backup capability that can be extended to unlimited backup capacity for about $5 per month. They are slated to ship next month with list prices ranging from $120 to $230.