Sunday, March 27, 2005

Storage space

Iomega recently launched a USB powered external 40GB hard drive which apparently weighs only 99gms. This little piece of information got me thinking. External hard drives in various sizes and capacities have been around for quite a while now. Though normal computer users like me find little use for them, I'm sure that there are people to whom these hard drives are indispensible.

But for ordinary, not-so-tech-savvy computer users, the preferred means of externally storing and backing up data is of course re-writable CDs and more recently DVDs. Once upon a time when CD writers cost a king's ransom Iomega ruled the external storage world would there mighty ZIP drives (remember those heavy squarish ZIP drives?). Unfortunately Iomegas ZIP drives were almost killed off by the appearance of much cheaper, smaller and lighter rewritable CDs. And now with blank DVDs becoming common, the CDs days are probably numbered.

But what happens in the not so far future when the DVDs currently ample storage capacity of almost 5 GB becomes obselete. Well there appear to be two feasable alternatives. Thy're both types of DVDs the first one is called the Blu-Ray DVD. This uses a blue coloured laser to read data. This format will supposedly allow upto 50GB of data to be stored per disc. That's ten times the capacity of a standard DVD today. The Blu-Ray format is being supported a large number of comanies like Sony, Hitachi, Phillips and LG. Phillips has also come out with a Blu-Ray DVD drive which is expected to become public later this year. Then there is the HD-DVD which is being pushed by companies like Toshiba, NEC and a number of film production companies. But this has a smaller capacity, only 30GB.

So should we start throwing out our drives? No not yet. It'll still be some time before these formats become standard. And only one of them will win. To find out more visit the HD-DVD, Blu-RAy and Blu-Ray Association websites

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