With each year, the decline of hard drives continues on its inexorable course, bringing down the fortunes of the companies that manufacture them. In light of this, both Seagate and Western Digital have sought to diversify their portfolio to include NAND and other flash storage technologies. For Seagate though, the transition appears to have hit them heavily.The firm has cut their revenue projections for the quarter by $100 million.
In addition to the reduced revenue, the more important margins have also shrunk by 4%, though they are still respectable at 23%. Revenue has been dropping steadily over time as well, down 22% year over year. Much of the decline comes from the weakening PC market but some of it also comes from Seagate own market position. In order to boost margins, Seagate has chosen to leave the low capacity HDD market, read 500GB and below, as they aren’t cost competitive against SSDs. This is because it is nigh impossible for a HDD to drop below $40 due to part cost, making low capacity HDDs a bad bargain against SSDs of the same capacity.
The big holdout for HDDs remains high-capacity drives which offer untouchable GB/$. Still, Seagate can’t rely on those forever so the hope is that their own SSDs gain a foot hold in the market. Another consideration is when will their SandForce purchase finally pay off with new SSD controllers. I love SMI, Phison and Marvell as much as the next guy, but give me some SandForce compression magic!
When it comes to storage you can either go the ordinary and boring route, or you can opt for something that breaks with the norm with more features than you would expect. I’m taking a closer look at ASUS’ Travelair N today which is a portable USB 3.0 hard disk drive that also works wirelessly with a built-in access point, comes with an SD card reader built-in, and has One-Touch NFC capabilities on top of the 1TB storage capacity.
The ASUS Travelair N (WHD-A2) is a 1TB portable USB 3.0 hard disk drive at heart and that in itself isn’t without. You can easily carry 500 movies, thousands of photos, songs, and files with you where ever you go. An ordinary portable drive has some limitations on the road, mainly the connection interface. What if you would like to access the drive from your mobile phone or tablet? What if you are far from a power outlet? Well, that is no problem with the Travelair N that comes with built-in wireless network capabilities and a battery.
Using the 2.4GHz band, the Travelair N can connect to pretty much any wireless devices available. It is compatible with IEEE 802.11b, g, and n-style connections which cover the entire spectrum of the wireless band. The antennas are internal, so you don’t need to worry about connecting them or breaking them off either. The Travelair N uses enterprise-level WPA2 wireless security to connect with your smart phone or tablet, ensuring all of your content is kept private and secure.
Not only does it come with built-in wireless capabilities, the drive also features a built-in 3300 mAh battery that is rated for up to 8-hours usage. This should be plenty of time until you’re near a charging ability again.
And no, ASUS didn’t stop here and added more features to this drive. The Travelair N supports NFC technology for instant one-touch connection to supported devices without any configuration needs. Simply touch your NFC-supported smart phone or tablet to the drive and you can browse your media library and files straight away.
The final feature of the drive itself is the built-in SD card slot that lets you back up your data from memory cards with simple steps. This is the perfect solution to empty the memory cards onto a larger storage medium and keep shooting those photos while you got the opportunity.
ASUS created the AiDrive companion app which is available on almost any platform: iPhone, iPad, Kindle Fire, or Android devices. The app features an intuitive user interface to let you quickly and easily view and share your photos, videos, and files.
The Travelair N can connect with up to five devices simultaneously when transferring files and up to three devices when streaming movies in HD quality. This allows you to easily share a single drive between multiple systems, devices, and people.
A portable drive needs to have a better resistance to environmental hazards and the Travelair N features an IP43-rated water-resistant design. This should guarantee a protection from accidental splashes and spills onto the drive.
With all the talk about USB 3.0 for PC connections and wireless for mobile devices, we shouldn’t forget that we also can connect a drive like this to all our other smart devices with USB or wireless capabilities, may they be gaming consoles, smart TVs, or something else.
ASUS packed the Travelair N in a horizontal shaped box which is unlike most that come more square. That’s very fitting for a drive like this that is anything but ordinary. The front will let you know what you purchase in a simplistic design including features and capacity.
On the rear of the box, you find a lot more details to the different functions such as environmental protection, wifi, and NFC.
Inside the box was a USB 3.0 cable, a warranty card and safety notice as well as the quick start guide. Normally there would also be an AD/DC power adapter for charging purposes, but that was missing in my review sample.
While the cost of solid state drives (SSDs) has been falling incrementally for the last three years, it still costs 18 cents per gigabyte more to buy an SSD than a hard disk drive (HDD). However, if price continue to plummet at the present rate then that difference could drop to a difference of 11 cents per gigabyte by 2017, according to the DRAMeXchange. While SSDs are unlikely to ever be cheaper than HDDs, the differential could become negligible.
Alan Chen, Senior Manager of DRAMeXchange, has presented figures that predict that 2.5-inch SSDs will cost 17 cents per gigabyte – compared to HHDs’ 6 cents per gigabyte – by 2017, and that SSD adoption rates in laptops and notebooks should represent 42% of the market during the same year.
“Branded PC vendors and channel distributors are holding back on their SSD purchases due to lower-than-expected notebook sales,” Chen told Computer World. “However, 256GB SSDs will be moving close to price parity with mainstream HDDs in 2016, so the adoption of SSDs in the business notebook segment will rise.”
Though SSD prices have consistently dropped over recent years, HHD prices have remained rather consistent, dropping only 3 cents per gigabyte from 2012 to 2015.
It wasn’t too long ago that computer owners were celebrating solid state drive prices dropping below the $1/GB mark, but a new report suggests that SSD retail prices could soon fall in line with those of their cheaper mechanical equivalents, the hard disk drive (HDD). A forecast from InformationWeek predicts that SSD prices could be 1:1 with HHDs by the end of 2016.
The article on InformationWeek’s Network Computing site, written by former Vice President of Engineering at Germane Systems Jim O’Reilly, reads:
So what about SSD price points? In 2014, prices for high-end consumer SSDs dropped below enterprise-class HDD, and continued to drop in 2015. A terabyte SSD can be had for around $300. Moreover, this is before 3D NAND begins to further cut prices. By the end of 2016, it’s a safe bet that price parity will be close, if not already achieved, between consumer SSDs and the bulk SATA drives.
The Network Computing post also suggests that SSDs are set to beat HDDs on capacity soon, too:
The result of the density increase is clear: This year, SSDs will nearly catch up to HDD in capacity. Meanwhile, hard drives appear to be stuck at 10 TB capacity, and the technology to move beyond that size is going to be expensive once it’s perfected. HDD capacity curves already were flattening, and the next steps are likely to take some time.
This all means that SSDs will surpass HDDs in capacity in 2016. There’s even serious talk of 30 TB solid-state drives in 2018.
Will this price parity and capacity increase for solid state drives mark the death knell for hard disks? Or will they still have a practical role to play in computing?
Thank you HotHardware for providing us with this information.
LaCie, a premium brand of Seagate’s, has introduced their new Mirror portable hard drive created by the French designer Pauline Deltour. The drive is enclosed in scratch resistant Gorilla Glass 3, making this 1TB drive both stylish and useful.
“You have to look twice to discover the LaCie Mirror’s true ambition,” said Deltour. “Covered by mirrored glass, it’s first an elegant and functional object, and only on second glance is it revealed to be a slim high–performance hard drive.”
The drive connects through USB 3.0 and offers LaCie Backup Assistant and Private-Public that is an AES 256-bit software encryption. The drive itself measures 80 x 128 x 13mm and the wooden stand measures 80 x 155 x 14mm. The drive weighs 230g without the stand, so it’s highly portable.
The new 1TB LaCie Mirror portable hard drive will be available in late January for an MSRP of $279.99 at LaCie.com. Wider availability will come later this year. The drive also comes with a carrying pouch and cleaning cloth to keep it pretty and great looking.
Thanks to LaCie for providing us with this information
Toshiba has a long list of storage products from consumer hard drives over hybrid laptop drives and all the way to large-capacity enterprise grade hard disk drives. But data volume grows, especially in the enterprise section and to combat that ever-growing need, Toshiba created the 6TB version in their MG04 series.
The new Toshiba MG04 6TB drive will be available as both SATA and SAS version. It spins the platters with 7200RPM that in return gives a sustained transfer rate of 205 MiB/s. The SAS version of the drive is 12Gbit/s compliant for enhanced power management and better integration into existing systems.
These enterprise hard drives have native support for 4K sector technology while it can emulate 512e advanced format sectors for legacy applications. They further feature persistent write cache to protect against power loss. All in all, a drive that sounds like it has all the basic features you could want.
There are also model options supporting SAS and SATA commands to enable sanitize “instant” cryptographic erase (SIE). The 6TB MG04ACA (SATA) and MG04SCA (SAS) models will begin sampling to OEM customers in Q1 2015.
Thanks to Toshiba for providing us with this information
Sometimes 3TB isn’t enough and sometimes 5400RPM or variable speeds aren’t what you need either, and for just that Toshiba has announced their latest release; the Toshiba Desktop 3.5-inch 7200RPM SATA3. The new hard disks are now available with capacities of 4TB and 5TB.
“Toshiba has been developing and manufacturing hard drives for more than 20 years,” said Maciek Brzeski, Vice President of Branded Storage Products, Toshiba Digital Products Division. “The time is right to upgrade our offerings not only to meet, but to get ahead of consumers’ expectations by expanding our offering of our internal 3.5″ hard drives to 4TB and 5TB sizes.”
The Toshiba desktop drives use proven technologies such as Perpendicular Magnetic Recording (PMR), Native Command Queuing (NCQ), TMR Head Recording and Serial ATA DIPM that together will give you a solid drive with good performance and features such as Internal shock sensors.
Both the 4TB and 5TB models have a 128MB cache buffer and have an average seek time of 10.5ms. They are compatible with most major operating systems and are backed by a 3-year warranty.
The new Desktop 3.5-inch internal hard drives are available for purchase at select retailers and on toshiba.com. MSRP prices are set to $299.00 for the 4TB model and $399.00 for the 5TB model.
Thanks to Toshiba for providing us with this information
Today Western Digital announced that they will start shipping the worlds first thinnest hard drive. The new Ultra Slim hard drives will be 47% thinner (5mm) than the standard mobile hard drives (9.5mm), also weighing 37% less, only weighing 74 grams!
The new Ultra Slim hard drives will fall into WD’s BLUE category, they are also releasing a BLACK Solid-State Hybrid Drive. Both of their new slim drives will be only 5mm! Enabling manufacturers of laptops and other mobile devices that use mobile drives to produce lighter and thinner devices for their customers! Both of the new drives will only have 500 GB of storage capacity, though the SSHD will be able to give you that nice performance boost with it’s hybrid technology.
These awesome new drives are thinner and quieter, what more could we ask for? WD kicked it up even further bringing us Edge Card Technology, and an Edge Card Connector allowing the drive to be powered and connect via the SATA interface! To reduce vibration and to stabilize the drive they are giving us StableTrac, making the new drives more accurate to provide consistent higher performance! Last but not least they also put in Dual Stage Actuators, two heads are always better than one, giving those data writes more accuracy!
As for the pricing, these new drives will be shipping to select industrial distributors and OEM customers today, they bring us the 500 GB WD BLUE Model: WD5000MPCK with an MSRP o f $89.00 USD, and it will come with a two-year limited warranty. The WD BLACK SSHD are only shipping to OEM’s and integrators with WD proprietary hybrid technology and industry standard SATA I/O technology.