Probably the last mass-market mobile device to use a traditional spinning plate hard drive was the iPod Classic. Since then, nearly everything mobile has been moving towards solid state flash memory. Even many laptops, including Google’s Chromebooks, come with only flash memory.
This is for good reason, as flash memory is more durable, cooler, and usually faster than traditional hard disk drives. However, standard hard disk drives are much cheaper than flash memory, and they can also store much more information.
For that reason, Seagate is hoping to convince manufacturers to use its new 500GB Ultra Mobile HDD as an Android tablet hard drive. Seagate is a well known maker of desktop hard drives, and its new drive has been designed to be perfectly suited to mobile applications such as tablets.
The drive has 500GB of storage, yet is still a mere 5mm thick and weighs 3.3 ounces. For those concerned about performance, the drive also includes a full 8GB of of flash memory cache, making it something of a hybrid drive. This memory could be used for the OS, applications, and anything else which needs to be accessed quickly, while the remaining HDD would store media and other data. This is a setup that many use on desktop computers, and generally works quite well.
Another potential concern of hard drives is energy use, but Seagate says that the Ultra Mobile HDD won’t be an undue drain on a device’s battery. So far, then, the new drive seems to be a good idea, and now the only question is whether consumers really need 500GB of storage on a mobile device. I’m not sure if a full 500GB is necessary, but it is a shame that Google likely won’t be putting these drives into Nexus devices (due to the company’s stance on cloud storage). 500GB may be a bit much, but I know 8GB isn’t really enough.[Liliputing]