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Desktop and Mobile Storage

By David Em

Everybody I know owns a digital camera. Most also own MP3 players, and quite a few shoot reams of DV video. That's a lot of digital data that needs to be stored and backed up. A lot of it also has to move from one place to another.

A new generation of storage products makes moving data between machines and locations much easier. This week we'll look at Plextor 's PX-716UF DVD writer, three remarkable new hard drives from Seagate, and a palm-sized disk from US Modular.

How Far We've Come

Sometime in the mid to late eighties, disk prices dropped to twenty bucks per megabyte. It was an exciting moment in the history of personal computing, because it was the first time that for a few hundred bucks you could put the kind of storage on your desktop that until then only existed in scientific installations or academic institutions.

A quick internet search shows disk storage prices today have plummeted to between fifty and seventy-five cents per gigabyte. Seagate's new 400 GB external storage drive, which I'll discuss below, can be had for around three hundred dollars. That's quite an improvement over the eight million bucks-plus tax-that amount of storage would have cost back when.

It's a good thing too. As hardware and software advance, so do storage requirements. For example, I recently scanned a 4-inch by 6-inch photo print in 16-bit color, and found the file came to a hundred and twenty megs. Likewise, personal storage needs these days are massive. MP3 libraries contain hundreds or thousands of songs, 5-megapixel photographs consume three to fifteen megabytes apiece depending on compression rate, and DV video devours over twelve gigabytes worth of bits per hour.

Plextor's PX-716UF DVD Drive

The most common method for storing and moving large amounts of digital information is recording it to DVD. DVDs store 4.7 GB of data. They're very portable, nearly universally readable, and cheap.