Audiophiles Targeted by New Removable Hard Drive

Last week, IBM announced a new device that it says will allow mobile users to add an extra 10 gigabytes (GB) of hard-drive capacity to their notebook PCs. Why is this important to audio fans? IBM is intending the new drive, called the Travelstar E, to primarily appeal to those wanting to take extended music libraries with them on the road.

David Uriu, director of IBM Mobile Storage Products, explains that "this is a significant and strategic move for IBM, [which] has now made it easier for people to upgrade their mobile storage as well as download music for the road. Travelstar E is very easy to install and easy to use. This is plug-and-play at its best. No diskettes, CDs, or additional power cords are needed with Travelstar E."

IBM describes the new product as a compact, lightweight device comprising an IBM hard drive, a rugged container, and a cable that "easily plugs into a standard PC card slot in any notebook." The company, which invented and shipped the first hard-disk drive in 1956, says that the introduction marks IBM's entrance into the marketplace for high-capacity external hard-drive devices.

Preliminary specifications indicate that the Travelstar E weighs less than a pound and can hold up to 10GB, "about the equivalent of 10,000 novels or 10 symphonies in high-fidelity sound," according to the company. IBM also claims that testing has shown that Travelstar E is "five times more rugged than a standard notebook hard drive."

Bundled with the drive is RioPort.com's digital audio jukebox software, which the company says allows consumers to encode, organize, and download MP3 or Microsoft's Windows Media Audio (WMA) files from the Internet, or a CD from a personal collection, for playback on the road. The new product should be available later this month in 8 and 10GB versions with respective estimated street prices of $449 and $549.

Earlier this week, IBM also announced it had set a new computer data-storage world record of 35.3 billion data bits per square inch on a magnetic hard disk, which the company says is a 75% increase over the 20-billion-bit milestone IBM achieved less than five months ago. IBM hopes that this new record will lead to disk drives that can store three times as much information as those available today.

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