Memorex intros "smallest" 4 GByte USB harddrive

Cerritos (CA) - Memorex expanded its Traveldrive pocket storage family with what the firm claims is the smallest USB Flash drive currently available on the market. For about the same price than a 2 GByte USB Flash drive, the "Mega Traveldrive" offers twice the capacity and competes with established products such as Seagate's ST1 drive.

Pocket harddrive storage is a new environment for Memorex, as the firm's "Traveldrive" product family was available with Flash memory only so far. The introduction of the device also comes at a critical time when Samsung apparently has slashed Flash memory prices dramatically in an effort to match the pricing levels of 1" harddrive products.

The Mega Traveldrive comes in a sleek case, which measures less than a two" square and, according to the manufacturer, currently is the smallest available product in this segment. The company did not provide detailed specification of the device other than it is a 4 GByte unit, which will hit retail shelves sometime in October.

The harddrive will be priced at $150, which is roughly the price range of Seagate's competing 1" pocket harddrive ST1. The 5 GByte ST1 currently sells for between $140 and $150 in US etail, the 2.5 GByte version of the drive hovers around $120.

According to market research firm iSuppli, 1" harddrives may face increased competition from Flash memories, as an aggressive price reduction trend in this segment has been initiated by Samsung: Apple's recently released iPod nano portable music player is a first sign that Flash memory manufacturer will go after consumer devices that currently carry storage capacities between 2 and 4 GByte. Currently, 2 GByte USB Flash memory sticks are priced in the $150 price level, but are expected to drop below $100 around Christmas.

Even Sony, which traditionally prices its Memory Stick products higher than the rest of the Flash market, announced this week that it will drop pricing of its devices. According to a press release, the full-size Memory Stick Pro this month will be reduced to a suggested retail price of about $170 and the Memory Stick Duo will fall into the $200 range. Open market pricing at online shops, however, can be expected to be closer to $150 and $170, respectively.

While Flash memory is catching up with 1" harddrives in price and size, harddrive vendors are likely to soon respond with 8 to 10 GByte devices "at reduced costs," iSuppli analyst Krishna Chander believes. In the end, success in the 1" harddrive market will depend on high capacities, tight cost control and a "broad portfolio of products for other segments beyond the 1" products," Chander said.

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