Seagate chases retail upgrade market

Consumer friendly HDDs

Seagate is coming to the upgrade market with a new line of "consumer friendly hard drives" which it will sell through retailers.

It claims the new HDDs are "easier to install and maintain than any other retail hard drive". They spin around at 7,200RPM and will be available in 40, 60 and 80GB flavours. They're bundled with installation and diagnostic software, Ultra ATA/100 interface cable, disc utility CD, quick installation guide and mounting screws.

Seagate is treading carefully with the public launch - the drives will be available from this weekend only through Fry's Electronics in Arizona, California, Oregon and Texas and at Outpost.com. According to readers, the drives have been on sale in Fry's for more than a month.

And in the UK, Centerprise the big white label system builder, has had an exclusive contract to distribute these drives as fully boxed retail units since October last year. Available in most PC World stores, the drives include a 20GB version which retails for £79.99 inc.VAT.

Presumably, the soft launch gives Seagate the chance to see if its disks are as easy to install and as maintenance-free as it claims - Fry's customers are always said to be a knowledgeable bunch. So upgrading their hard drives should be a piece of cake.

More US retailers will be added later this year; no And no, we haven't got US prices yet.

Reader Michael Kim has already bought one of the new Seagate retail HDDs through Fry's, and yes, they are easy to install. He writes:

The package contains the items you described - which for the most part isn't really any different than other retail hard drives from other manufacturers. You still have to set the correct SLAVE/MASTER/CS jumper settings.

However, the ONE thing that makes the Seagate product stand-out from the rest is that they actually put the instructions - in clear language - for using the drive right on the drive itself (in addition to the printed instruction sheet in the package). This is a great idea - I don't know why other manufacturers don't do the same thing. Printed instruction sheets get lost or thrown away soon after the drive is installed. By putting the instructions, in clear, easy-to-understand terms, right onto the drive itself, Seagate makes sure that the instructions are never lost.

Sounds like a no-brainer, but none of the other manufacturers have thought of it. Other manufacturers, to their credit, do document the jumper settings on the drives themselves, but none of them do so in a manner that allows non-experts to understand what those settings mean. Those other guys should copy Seagate's lead. This method of "self documentation" would especially be helpful for SCSI drives - I can't tell you how many times I've had to go searching on web sites for SCSI ID settings documentation - years after I bought the drive. ®