Everyone in the computer industry is already familiar with the technological marvels of desktop hard drives, the capacity of which now approaches an amazing half a teraByte (500 GB). However, some remarkable advances in compact drive technology have gone largely unnoticed. An increasing number of multimedia devices are shipping with 1.8" micro-drives installed. The many MP3 players that include such drives are just the tip of a substantial iceberg, as the list of potential applications for high-capacity, tiny drives continues to grow.
One need only consider, for example, infotainment systems in automobiles. Here, where radios and navigation systems are typically delivered in compact standard form factors, space is at a premium. Navigation systems with map-driven databases that sometimes even include 3D visualizations won't always fit on a single DVD. Similarly, there is increasing demand for mobile access to e-mail and other Internet data sources, and high-quality music and video - all of these drive the market inexorably toward providing disk drives with large amounts of storage space.
It's also likely that you'll soon begin seeing more and more 1.8" form factor hard drives in notebooks and other handheld devices, such as PDAs and cell phones. This is the only way that this kind of equipment will be able to dip below the magic 2 pound weight barrier. Samsung delivers a convincing proof of this concept in its Manager-Notebook Q30, which shows what a really portable computing device looks like.
Toshiba's 1.8" (actual size) MK3006GAL drives enjoy great popularity right now. That's because they are no bigger than PCMCIA cards, and can use the same connectors to link up to devices. This micro-drive is also entirely compatible with the widely used UltraATA/100 interface standard.