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Toshiba to ship 2GB 'phone HDD' by month's end

Announces 4GB version for mid-year release

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CES 2005 Toshiba said today it will begin shipping its mobile phone-oriented 2GB, 0.85in hard drive at the end of the month.

A 4GB version will ship mid-year, the Japanese giant said, with 6GB and 8GB drives shipping in 2006.

Toshiba's 0.85in HDD

Toshiba announced the drive family in September 2004, though at the time was unwilling to specify a capacity - 2-3GB was all it would admit too. It did say the drive would ship by the end of the year. It's missed that deadline, clearly, but a month will make little difference in the long run.

Toshiba is pitching the part at "next-generation mobile digital devices", but it's a good bet phone makers are going to take a keen interest in the drive, particularly given the clear convergence between handsets, PDAs and, increasingly, digital media players. Toshiba's hard drives may enable handset makers to incorporate large storage capacities more cost-effectively than they can with Flash-based memory cards, and potentially reach higher capacities more quickly.

And as PalmOne's launch last year of the 256MB, Flash-only Tungsten T5 showed, other device vendors are looking to higher storage capacities to persuade punters to purchase their products in this ever-more converged world.

Indeed, speculating wildly, Toshiba's 2GB HDD might even allow Apple to compete more directly with Flash-based MP3 players while retaining the iPod's current HDD-only approach. Toshiba's ship date is not inconsistent with the thought that the iPod Flash, expected to be announced next week, might not actually be a Flash product at all. Or how about the Motorola iTunes phone?.

Weighing under 10g, the 2GB drive itself spins at 2600rpm and contains a single platter - the 4GB drive will simply add a second disk to the drive. Both will run off a 3V power feed, and can sustain 1000g of operating shock and 2000g of non-operating shock, Toshiba said, touting the drives' suitability for highly mobile applications.

The 2GB drive comes in a 3.2 x 2.4 x 0.3cm package; the 4GB unit will use the same form-factor, but increase the thickness to 0.5cm.

Toshiba also said today it has now produced over 10m 1.8in HDDs - the product used in all four generations of Apple's iPod - since it put them into production in 2000. It re-iterated its plan to offer an 80GB product in that form factor later this year, along with a move to reduce the thickness of its 40GB product by cutting the number of platters it contains without reducing the storage capacity. ®

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Apple iPod Flash said to ship January

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