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FrogPad ships one-handed keyboard

Plus: Western Digital unveils 250GB Serial ATA drive, SiS launches Serial ATA South Bridge

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Keyboard

US-based FrogPad has begun shipping its innovative one-hand keyboard, the only device of its kind on the market today, the company claims.

The keyboard crams full functionality onto a grid of 15 full-size keys, plus and five more keys integrated into the keyboard's case. According to FrogPad, "the letters are arranged according to frequency of use. The top 15 letters typists use 86 per cent of the time are located in the most convenient positions and are arranged according to the natural typing and drumming motion of the hand".

FrogPad is touting the device as the next "major breakthrough in human-computer interfaces", and is seeking out computer manufacturers keen to use the keyboard to shrink the size of the systems they offer. Thinking about it, any keyboard can be operated one-handed, but FrogPad's non-QWERTY approach is novel.

The FrogPad one-handed keyboard isn't cheap - it costs $189.99 before sales tax and $12.99 delivery charges - but the company is shipping it around the world.

Hard Drive

Western Digital has launched what it claims is the world's largest 7200rpm Serial ATA drive, the Caviar Special Edition line.

The top-end model offers 250GB of raw data capacity. Others provide 120, 160 and 200GB of storage. Each unit contains an 8MB cache buffer which feeds the 150MBps Serial ATA connection.

In these days of low drive warranty periods, Western Digital is bucking the trend and guaranteeing the Caviar SE series for a three-year period.

The launch follows the arrival earlier this year of Intel's i875 and i865 800MHz frontside bus Pentium 4 chipset lines, which support Serial ATA, as do similar chipsets from the likes of VIA and SiS.

Western Digital has also introduced SecureConnect, a Serial ATA connector cable that's 500 per cent stronger than early Serial ATA cables but retails compatibility with early Serial ATA backplanes. Dodgy cables, says WD, have lead to too many connector breakages and the return of too many drives to manufacturers.

Also featured on the Caviar SE family is FlexPower, a system that allows the drive to be powered by traditional EIDE power connectors, a common feature of current PCs, as well as currently shipping Serial ATA power supplies.

The Caviar SE family goes on sale in July.



Maxtor, meanwhile, has begun shipping its 80GB and 120GB DiamondMax Serial ATA drives to retailers. It expects to see 200GB and 250GB models on store shelves by the middle of the month.



Like the Caviar SEs, DiamondMax have 8MB of cache buffer memory, spin at 7200rpm and are designed to operate with Serial or Parallel ATA power supplies, a techniqie Maxtor calls MaxATA. Pricing was not revealed.

Chipset

SiS has announced the SiS964 South Bridge, designed to connect to its SiS180 North Bridge. The SiS964 integrates two independent Serial ATA ports, plus a dual-channel ATA bus. Multiple RAID modes are supported, including RAID0, RAID1 and JBOD. It supports up to eight USB2.0 ports, provides 10/100 Ethernet and V.90 modem, and offers Dolby digital 5.1 multi-channel sound.

The SiS964 will going into mass production during Q3, followed by SiS' further chipsets for Intel and AMD platforms. ®

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