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Western Digital Ultra Slim WD Blue – do these incredibly thin hard drives suggest we’re about to get terabyte tablets?

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Western Digital has just announced the first of a range of Ultra Slim WD Blue 2.5 inch hard drives, which at 5mm in size are about half the thickness of an average smartphone. Now pushing aside for the moment the astounding engineering involved in getting a 5400 rpm spinning platter, motor and all the electronics into such an incredibly skinny form factor, the fact that the company is offering an initial capacity of 500GB suggests that it won’t be long before we see terabyte versions hitting the streets.

What would this mean? Well for a start, since a significant limitation of current tablet computers is their relatively small storage capacity, surely it would make sense for the manufacturers to start thinking about how to incorporate these ultra thin drives into their product as soon as possible?

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The ability to store a significant amount of your favorite multimedia on a single drive inside your iPad 5 or Galaxy Note 12 could improve the utility of a tablet computer significantly, and since the drive only weighs in at a paltry 74 grams, you’re not going to impact portability too much either.

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You may say that this is a job better suited to solid state drives (SSD), but let’s face it, at the moment they’re far too expensive to make sense in a low cost commodity product like a tablet. Not to mention the fact that SSD drives can suffer from wear and tear more than a typical disk drive.

Power drain may be an issue, especially since tablets have distanced themselves from laptop computers through the massive hike in operational time, but that’s something that can be worked on, and with the right operating system and battery management could probably be solved relatively easy over the longer term.

Bottom line? Don’t be surprised to see these wonder drives start appearing in all sorts of strange and wonderful products over the coming months and years. Who said the disk drive was dead?

Nigel is the managing editor of the Red Ferret, as well as a freelance columnist for the Sunday Times newspaper in London. Loves tech and fancies himself as a bit of a futurist, but then don’t we all?

Nigel – who has written posts on The Red Ferret Journal.


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