Seagate launches 500GB hard drive for tablets, blurs PC lines

Seagate launches 500GB hard drive for tablets, blurs PC lines

Summary: Seagate is aiming to make 500GB an option for tablets with a 2.5-inch hard drive. Will tech buyers take the option?


Seagate on Monday took the wraps off a hard drive designed for tablets that brings 7x the storage capacity of a 64GB device with the same performance as a Flash drive.


The drive, the Seagate Ultra Mobile HDD, uses software to boost performance. The idea is that Android tablet manufacturers will use the Seagate drive, along with the company's mobile enablement kit and caching software, to up the storage.

The 2.5-inch drive is 5 mm thin and weighs 3.3 ounces. As for capacity, the drive has 500GB---enough for 100,000 photos and 125,000 songs.

In a statement, Steve Luczo, CEO of Seagate, said the company is hoping that the thin hard drive will be sold as a value add to mobile devices and allow them to "re-think the mobile market."

To keep tablets light and thin, storage is typically Flash powered. The problem is that storage capacity is well below what a PC would carry. Should Seagate succeed with its mobile device drive, tablets would be seen as a more direct competitor with PCs. That outcome may be challenging for the PC market, which is already being thumped by tablets.

The mobile Seagate drive is optimized for tablet uses and are able to manage shock, heat, vibration and gyroscopic motion. The mobile enablement kit includes a dynamic data driver and reference designs that would lower tablet costs since hard drives are cheaper than solid state versions. 

Seagate said the following regarding its reference design:

A customized reference design covers the physical mounting of the hard drive to optimize thermal conditions and further enhance the ruggedness of devices incorporating the Ultra Mobile HDD. The goal of this mounting design is to distribute the force of impacts over a greater period of time to increase the reliability of the hard drive beyond its own physical attributes.

What's unclear is how many tech buyers would go for the drive as an option. The most likely customers would be people that basically use their tablets as a PC replacement. In either case, the PC and tablet lines are likely to blur with a push by Seagate's storage options.

The specs on the drive include 500GB capacity, a SATA 6GB/s interface, 16MB cache and spin speed of 5400RPM. 


The news comes as Seagate is about to host its financial analyst briefing. Among other items:

  • Seagate said it has shipped more than 1 million drives using shingled magnetic recording, a next-gen storage technology designed to boost the amount of data stored on a disk. Seagate expects to improve density and get to 1.25TB of data per disk.
  • The company also said it will launch storage products in 8-bay and 4-bay 1U rackmount systems with 4 to 32 terabyte options. The move gets Seagate into the network attached storage market for small and medium sized businesses.
  • Seagate also announced a Rescue and Replace protection plan starting at $29.99 to replace drives and recover data. The protection plan covers any drive from any vendor. The service will launch in Canada and Europe and through Asia Pacific in mid-2014. Seagate Rescue starts with a 2-year plan at $29.99 with 3-year and 4-year options for $39.99 and $49.99, respectively. Rescue and Replace starts at $39.99 for a 2-year plan with additional years for $10 up to 4 years.

Topics: Storage, Mobility, Tablets

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  • Awesome

    Now they can build truly awesome and thin high powered Windows 8 powered machines and tablets.
    Dreyer Smit
    • Yes it always seems like we are just waiting

      for that "one more thing" that will make windows 8 products suddenly become popular.
      Having a 500GB tablet really is contrary to what a tablet should be about. There is the occasional person that insists on keeping all their movie collection with them, but who really watches many movies more than once? Its a waste of time copying all that data everywhere. Other than that, please use a laptop.
      • Hard drive = Fail

        Less is more.

        A tablet is a success when it ditches the hard drive and ditches the battery-guzzling PC processor in favor of an energy-efficient ARM processor.

        Despite the PR claims, a hard drive with mechanical moving parts is always going to be more fragile than a solid state drive. It will need more energy to keep the wheel spinning. The alternative is to make the user wait while the wheel comes up to speed. Either way not good.
      • "Who watches many movies more than once?"

        Depends on your definition of "many", I guess.

        However, considering that the multi-billion-dollar entertainment industry, which generates a lot of its cash from "physical" copies of movies (including now digital downloads) rather than actual theater ticket sales, they're apparently (successfully) banking on the idea that people *do* want to watch programming at least twice, if not multiple times.

        And yes, while there are virtual services that let you either access an online library on a per-item basis (i.e. movies on demand) or access a "library" collection for a monthly fee (Netflix, Redbox, etc.), all that does is grant you the right to *access* the content (either for a one-fee-per-viewing, or for a monthly fee for *what they make available*). Neither one, however, lets you have exclusive, 100% access whenever you want for the lifetime of your viewing device; if they pull it from the library tomorrow, you will have *no* access to it, even if you really, really, really want to watch it the day after tomorrow.

        In contrast, the risk of breaking the physical disk (or having your hard drive become corrupted & losing its data) is no different than when you fire up your tablet to access Netflix only to find that the AWS server is unavailable, or that your ISP has an outage in the area, or that you/your significant other/other family members or houseguests have used up your monthly data plan cap. But by having the disk (or other local storage) available, you're no longer dependent upon an active Internet connection, & *truly* can watch "whatever, wherever, whenever" the device is at.
        • It depends on your lifestyle

          Occasionally like a couple times a year I wouldn't mind having all sorts of movies locally with me, like if camping in 'the sticks' with no connection. But most of the time, I access 'the cloud' for everything and it makes life a lot easier. You DO need the connection, yes. But if you have it, the cloud is the way to go at least for me.
        • Hmmm. With iTunes I can access it anytime, anywhere and almost any device.

          Pay once...own forever.

          Arm A. Geddon
          • That is certainly true.

            But you can't store that many movies on your ipad for offline viewing. That's why I want a tablet with a hard drive this size in it.
            Sam Wagner
          • One could get an iPad with 128GBs.

            Or another tablet and put a movie or movies on a SD card. Maybe even use an external USB drive if your tablet has one.
            Arm A. Geddon
          • itunes anywhere

            1. Choppy streaming on mobile when on the move
            2. If you have a connection at all
            3. Cost of data especially when you are travelling
      • Having said that...

        I really don't see the point of a conventional hard drive in a laptop, primarily because it's going to have a significant effect on the size (dimensions *and* mass) of the tablet itself. Essentially, you're going to end up with a tablet the size *and* mass of a laptop, but without the built-in keyboard, and it may even end up costing you more for similar (or, more likely, *inferior*) performance.

        Now, if they were to come up with this as an *external* hard drive that could be connected via the USB port on the tablet, to allow for both additional storage & the ability to quickly swap data files from internal to external storage, that would be something more interesting.
        • its not a conventional HD

          Weight is 3.3 oz or about 90g and its 5mm thick.
          The iPad is .37 inches or 9.4 mm while the iPad mini is .28" or 7.2mm
          The iPad weighs about 655g while iPad mini is about 310g

          The hd size might displace some components so it might be fair to estimate about 100-120 gram weight increase. You would probably remove some but not all of the Flash storage. It could be more challenging in a smaller 7-8 inch device to hold the line on overall dimensions but in a 10" or higher tablet you could probably do it without increasing the overall size. i.e. smaller SOC sizes, and other componentry shrinking would make room for the Ultra Mobile HDD.

          In a Baytrail tablet with Flash and HDD I could have room to run a virtualized iPad and Android device. Any device, anytime, anywhere. :-)
          • Make it a modular/dock option

            For existing tablets, this could be a nice add-on as part of an overall modular dock package that could also have snap-in modules for batteries, keyboards, and various expansion options. But with all that, it needs to be kept thin and light. Maybe a porfolio type case such as the ones with Bluetooth keyboards would be good starting points with BT and USB connectivity for the HDD, too. It would be an interesting packaging engineering challenge to make it all work on "tablet scale".
      • Movies

        Some movies I have are 5 or 6 GB each. A 32 GB tablet would be completely filled by 5 movies. That's not alot.
        Jason Joyner
  • Dead End for Tablets

    Half a centimeter .... enough said.
  • And I thought hard drives were finished years ago... pretty amazing!

    And I thought hard drives were finished years ago... pretty amazing!
  • This would be pretty cool in a Surface Pro

    Add a multi-monitor docking station for the desk and a type keyboard the road and you got a full powered Windows 8.x tablet/laptop/desktop all in one package.
    Sir Name
    • this all in one idea is not optimal

      Its better to easily be able to share your data between multiple devices via the cloud.
      If I'm at my desk at work I want the damn most powerfullest computer I can get in my budget.
      I don't want some watered down expensive tablet with flimsy mobile hard disk being the brains of my desktop system just so I can try to have all the data in my life centralized on that. If that's what floats your boat then go for it.
      • re:

        Sharing everything between a desktop, laptop, and Surface Pro via SkyDrive and TFS are what I do now and it works well for me. The main downside is having to keep three machines up to date and in sync with the latest version of software. Also, while I have quad core i7s in both my desktop and laptop, I probably wouldn't notice any performance difference with the Surface Pro's i5. I'm just saying that the all in one thing is another option.
        Sir Name
      • You making a very large assumptions here,

        that you can and should trust cloud storage options. There are ways to encrypt files that work with certain devices, but often not all devices/OSes, meaning that encryption isn't really a very complete option yet either.
        Sam Wagner
  • Hard Drives Aren't Going Anywhere

    I know many people are shocked by the thought of companies still using conventional hard drives, but the fact is, they will be around for years to come.