Maker of the FD-2120A slimline drive OR Technology expects product availability in the April-June quarter of the year, and believes that virtually all notebook makers will take up the design. The drives are based on core technology used in LS-120 desktop floppy drives which are available in some Compaq PC models.
The 12.7mm high drive weighs just 180g and operates at between 0.2 watts and 3.5 watts, achieved by using new optics and a single-sided PCB. OEMs will pay $149 (£90-100) for the drives. Disks currently retail at about $20 (£13).
"We believe it will become the next floppy standard in notebooks and the analysts agree," said Mike Dalton, European marketing director for OR. "You've got to have access to a floppy device and 1.44Mb is not big enough. [The FD-2120A] is a much better way of distributing data without having to lug around parallel port devices."
Dalton doesn't believe that rival Iomega will be able to settle a 15mm Zip drive into notebooks without requiring expensive retooling of case designs, and says of Iomega's 12.7mm high drive: "Nobody has seen sight or sound of it."
He added that the Mitsumi-led 130Mb floppy consortium will "not be able to ship in volume until the end of this year. They'll be behind the curve." Future versions of the LS-120 (including slimline versions) are expected to hold over 500Mb per disk and offer improved performance.
Dalton also believes that there is plenty of room for lower prices in the 120Mb floppy media camp: "We're putting a lot of pressure on Imation to bring the price down. The fact Maxell is now in the market will drive the price down."