It's a new year, a new decade, with bigger hard disks than ever and new technologies like SATA 6Gbps, USB 3.0, and bigger solid-state drives to choose from. So, what do you do with the drives you've replaced (or will replace this year)? From drive enclosures and media streamers to storage for home servers and salvage fodder, find out the best ways to decide which drives get promoted, which drives are out, and which drives deserve a second life.
If you've been holding out for an HP notebook with SuperSpeed USB 3.0 ports, your wait is over. According to HP spokeswoman Sheila Watson, certain Envy 15 configurations with USB 3.0 ports have begun shipping and are ready to order.
"HP Direct (our online store) does now sell the Envy 15 with the USB 3.0 along with the new ATI Mobility Radeon HD 5830 Graphics (DX11)," Watson said in an email to CNET.
The Envy 15, which HP touts as the world's thinnest quad-core laptop, isn't the only notebook in HP's lineup to receive the USB 3.0 treatment. Watson says the SuperSpeed port will also soon find its way onto its EliteBook 8540p and 8540w models "in a couple of weeks." The EliteBook is HP's high end business laptop line.
USB 2.0 may have reigned supreme for most of 2009, but now it's USB 3.0's time to shine in the limelight. Wasting no time in the new year, Seagate used CES to unveil its BlackArmor PS110 USB 3.0 portable external hard drive "performance kit" designed for laptops.
"As people continue to amass vast libraries of high-definition photos, movies, and music, the storage needs of US households are forecast to grow more than ten times between 2009 and 2013, and the average digital media storage requirements will exceed a terabyte by 2013," said Kurt Schreff, vice president and principle analyst of Parks Associates.
Seagate's latest BlackArmor extrnal HDD kit packs a 500GB 7200RPM 2.5-inch portable hard drive, power cable, and PC Express card. And because it's built around the new SuperSpeed USB 3.0 spec, Seagate says you can expect sustained transfer rates in the neighborhood of 100MB/s, which is three times faster than current USB 2.0 devices, the company claims. That boils down to transferring a 25GB HD movie in about 4 minutes, compared to 14 minutes using a USB 2.0 drive.
Seagate says the new drive is available now with an MSRP set at $180.
Having been finalized for awhile now, the USB 3.0 spec has lost some of the glitz and glamor that accompany new technology announcements, but it's not all old news just yet. On the contrary, Gigabyte has taken to thumping its chest over its GA-P55A-UD3 becoming "the world's first motherboard to pass USB-IF (Universal Serial Bus-Implementers Forum) certification," paving the way for the company to plaster the SuperSpeed USB logo on its product.
Gigabyte claims its GA-P55A-UD3 "underwent strict compliance and product quality testing from the USB-IF" before receiving its certification. The mobo maker also said several other models with onboard USB 3.0 are currently being tested and are expected to pass certification within the next couple of weeks.
In addition to onboard USB 3.0, the GA-P55A-UD3 also boasts SATA 6Gb/s support, a 2-ounce copper PCB leading to lower temps and better power efficiency, DDR3-2000+ support, CrossFireX support, and several other features.
Western Digital today announced the My Book 3.0, their first USB 3.0-enabled external hard drive. The My Book 3.0 contains a 1TB WD hard drive in the same black shell as other My Book products, though without a capacity meter or e-ink display, a la the My Book Elite.
With USB 3.0, Western Digital claims theoretical transfer speeds of up to 5 gigabits per second are possible (or around 640MB/s). However, given the inherent transfer speed limits of mechanical hard drives, you won't see more than around 100MB/s - still three times as fast as USB 2.0.
The 1TB WD My Book 3.0 is available now at http://www.shopwd.com for $180, or $200 with an included USB 3.0 PCIe adapter card. Look for a full review on Maximumpc.com later this week.
As the capacities and prices of hard drives drop it becomes so very tempting to replace existing hard drives with something bigger, and perhaps faster. But what to do with the old drives? External drive cases, let’s face it, are passé--and in some instances will cost you more than the drive they’ll house is worth. Docks are a nice idea, and definitely offer more flexibility. But what if you’ve a hankering to go portable? Unitek’s got you covered: a USB 3.0 to SATA adapter that will get your ‘old’ drive running and on your desktop in no time.
The Unitek adapter, available over at Brando for $48, has a USB 3.0 compliant connector for the PC side, and a SATA Gen2i (3 Gbps) and Gen1i (1.5 Gbps) compliant connector for a 3.5-inch drive at the other. Th econnector will support ATA/ATAPI devices, and drives up to 2 TB. USB 3.0 will allow a theoretical data transfer rate of 5.0 Gbps, but the actual rate will be governed by SATA’s slightly lower data throughput.
The only drawback to the connector is USB 3.0, which isn’t yet mainstream. The initial round of USB 3.0 equipped motherboards are supposed to be hitting the streets about now. And for the rest of us languishing in USB 2.0 purgatory, we’ll be needing to invest in an add-in card.
LaCie announced today a brand new storage option made available by USB 3.0’s massive throughput. John O’ Neill, VP of Marketing at Symwave boasted, “The end user experience of external storage is undergoing a very significant upgrade with the launch of USB 3.0 products. We are pleased to be leading the market transition with such a strong partner like LaCie.”
Lacie integrated Symwave’s dual SATA bridge controller, which touts burstable read speeds of 275MB/s, enough to perform real time streaming and editing of HD files. The 2Big USB 3.0 RAID drive will sport up to 4TB of storage and should be available early in 2010. The new product will be showcased at CES 2010 in January as well.
Do you need USB 3.0 ports on your laptop right now? If you positively cannot wait, StarTech has you covered. Well, as long as you have an ExpressCard slot. Their new USB 3.0 card adapter will get the job done by adding 2 USB 3.0 ports to your current lappy. However, this is one of those products that comes fully equipped with caveats.
Each USB 3.0 port requires 900mA to run. Since an ExpressCard slot doesn’t output that much current, StarTech has included an AC adapter. Yep, you’ll need an AC adapter for your USB ports. Then there’s the card itself, which is already on the chunky side. Having this hanging off the side of a laptop seems like a bad idea. If carrying all this extra weight around sounds reasonable to you, it can be yours for a mere $50.
Two companies were competing with each other and time to roll out the world's first USB 3.0 hard rive. In the end, it proved to be an anti-climax as one of those two companies, Freecom, failed to deliver the USB 3.0 hard drive that it had announced back in September. It has now pushed back the launch to next year.
The hard drive is three times as nimble as any USB 2.0 drive, and understandably so. Buffalo has also announced the IFC-PCIE2U3, a two-port PCI-E card to help potential DriveStation HD-HXU3 buyers overcome the lack of USB 3.0 support on their PCs. The drive will be available in three capacities: 1TB ($200), 1.5TB ($250), and 2TB ($400) .
“CyberPower customers can configure and order a Gamer Xtreme system with the super speed USB 3.0/SATA III interface today. With Intel's latest i5/i7 processors and P55/X58 chipsets, you'll enjoy maximum performance today and be ready for tomorrow. Both USB 3.0 and SATA III are backward compatible to assure users their current peripherals will not become obsolete,” the company said in a laconic press release. The Gamer Xtreme range starts at $749.