Seagate and IOGear's Mobile Hard Drives: Different Form Factors, Different Prices

Storage For Today's PC Nomads

Remember the days when you had to make do with a 3.5" diskette and a mobile storage capacity of 1.44 MB to transport data from point A to point B?

Kiss that 1.44 MB Floppy Dinosaur Goodbye

But with more users on the go and an ever-greater selection of notebooks to choose from, demand for mobile, lightweight, high-capacity data backup solutions is growing. Vendors are attempting to satiate the never-ending hunger for capacity by today's PC nomads with flash storage media and mini hard-drives in 1.8" and sub-1.8" formats with varying degrees of success.

Floppy Successor: Flash Drive with USB2.0 Interface

While USB Flash drives are increasingly popular thanks to their user-friendliness at a bottom-line street price of $70 to $110 per GB, they aren't exactly cheap.

Users can spend considerably less on external hard drives in 2.5" and 1.8" formats.

The future belongs to ultra-portable hard drives featuring USB 2.0

Prices here range from three to seven dollars per GB, depending on hard-drive model, capacity, interface(s) and seller.

Nowadays USB 2.0 is the standard in this category. The storage capacity for these types of solutions is around 20 to 80 GB. Such products are not only ideal for transporting data; they can also be used as a backup medium for your notebook's hard-drive partition.

For our test, IOGear sent us its Combo 1.8" Ion Drive (40 GB), which was a typical representative of this type of design. At around $6 a GB, it's not among the most affordable solutions on the market, but USB 2.0 and Firewire 400 interfaces make it very versatile in terms of use.

Meanwhile, Seagate is trying to simultaneously pioneer and occupy another market segment altogether with the smallest hard drive around. With capacities of 2.5 and 5 GB, the yo-yo shaped mass storage unit represents Seagate's attempt to shake up the USB Flash drive segment. And for $32 and $52 per GB, it's at least all set to become a cheaper alternative to considerably pricier USB flash drives.

Finally we wanted to see if the drive can also hold its own against a USB 2.0 flash drive.