This week Toshiba’s [OTC:TOSBF] storage division announced the notebook industry’s first 400GB hard disk, upping the ante in the increasing format war between traditional hard drives and solid state drives, which store their data on static chips instead of mechanically rotating disks. The new 400GB drives have two “platters,” or disks, inside them, each capable of packing on 200GB (duh) and spinning at a respectable but not screaming 5400RPM. For those who value quickness over storage space, the company is also offering a 7200RPM drive with up to 320GB of storage space. Some new perks include quieter operation and faster data speeds; both models come in the standard notebook-size enclosure measuring 9.5mm thick.
Now, 400GB is a lovely amount of storage to pack onto a notebook, but it’s a pretty well known fact that as hard drive capacities rise, their reliability drops. That’s because these drives are forced to access increasing amount of data with roughly the same number of heads, leading to a durability problem. As I type this on my MacBook — which came with a 120GB drive that I’ve had to replace once in 2 years — it occurs to me that past the 200GB mark, it’s truly safer (if more expensive) to buy a notebook with a large capacity solid state drive that will last up to 10 years instead of a paltry 2-4. Samsung [SEO:005930] just announced drives up to 250GB in solid state form, available by year’s end. Therein lies the future of storage — but until then, a whopping mechanical drive like Toshiba’s will do just fine.