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6/28/2006
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Digital Storage In The Home Goes Quiet

Digital storage in the home is getting bigger and quieter, as companies such as Hitachi and Seagate roll out super quiet storage technology for Media Center PCs, DVRs and home theater installations.

Digital storage in the home is getting bigger and quieter.

Hitachi Global Storage Technologies has rolled out super-quiet storage technology for personal and DVRs (digital video recorders), as well as Media Center PCs, based on its new CinemaStar 7K500 and CinemaStar 7K160 lines of hard drives tailor-made for the home theater.

The San Jose, Calif.-based company, which was formed by the merger of IBM's old hard-disk drive business and Hitachi's storage organization, designed the acoustics of the drive to help devices stay "bedroom-quiet."

The drives also are designed to use less energy when in idle mode, providing for cooler overall DVR systems. The product line signals Hitachi's intention to seek penetration in the digital home space, after spending the past several years developing storage primarily for business PCs, workstations and servers.

The CinemaStar 7K500 is available in both two- and three-disk designs, with storage capacities of 250 Gbytes, 320 Gbytes, 400 Gbytes and 500 Gbytes. The CinemaStar 7K160 is available in capacities of 80 Gbytes and 160 Gbytes. The drives are offered through the same channels as its Deskstar line of personal computers and workstations.

While Hitachi's top-line capacity is 500 Gbytes, other storage companies maintained their march to a full Tbyte of storage on the desktop or TV stand. Among them is disk-drive maker Seagate, which moved another step toward delivering a Tbyte of storage on the desktop with the recent release of the 750-Gbyte Barracuda internal hard-disk drive.

Seagate, Scotts Valley, Calif., says the internal drives are part of the new Barracuda 7200.10 family and are aimed at meeting growing capacity needs on the desktop with the expansion of digital media. The drives are street-priced at $590.

The 7200.10, a 3.5-inch drive, was designed with "perpendicular" disk-drive technology, as opposed to "longitudinal" technology. Seagate describes perpendicular architecture as standing "data bits on end on the disc platter, rather than flat to the surface," a method that allows for much higher density.

The company also is shipping its new 750-Gbyte Pushbutton Backup external hard drive that can hold 5,000 digital songs, 15,000 digital photos, 50 hours of home videos, 50 computer games and 25 DVD movies, with headroom of 350 Gbytes to spare.

Fatter and quieter storage could be a boost to the digital home space, integrators say.

"The experience has been that if people are doing a Media Center PC, the thought of easily addable storage space for the DVR is a big deal," says Jim Brubaker, president of JK Computer, a Blairsville, Pa.-based home integrator. "They fill up their drives way quicker than they thought."

Brubaker also says "acoustics is a big deal," although manufacturers have been addressing sound problems from early on in the PC-digital home era, including the problems of noisy fans. "When this whole thing first started happening, integrating those boxes into the rooms, we had those complaints a lot more often," Brubaker says. "Now we're using higher-end boxes with better fan components."



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