External USB drives are a common solution to the problem of needing extra storage that can be transported between various PCs and used on different machines. That works for some purposes, but USB connections have certain limitations. A better external storage option is already here.
Before I talk about it, though, let me explain what I mean when I say that external USB drives have limitations. Itís true that practically every modern computer (and plenty of other gadgets) has USB ports; my own three-year-old Compaq PC at home boasts USB ports that can be accessed from both the front and the back of the box. No, the issue with USB connections is speed.
USB 2.0 is faster than earlier versions of USB, but it still only supports a raw data rate of 480 Mbps. That was great when the standard was established back in 2001, but nowadays many users have huge collections of images, video, digital music, and other data that take up a lot of space. They would like to take some of these gigabytes with them when they travel, and USB drives are just too slow. Wouldnít it be nice to be able to access the data on an external drive at the same speed as an internal drive?
Many of you probably know where Iím going with this. The technology already exists. Itís called eSATA, and itís an external version of the serial ATA that is currently used inside computers to connect hard drives. Few if any computers feature eSATA ports, which contrasts sharply with the ubiquity of USB ports. But that may be set to change.
John Gleason, manager of worldwide consumer PC marketing for Hewlett-Packard, seems to think so. ďDefinitely in 2007, youíll see this populated as a standard feature on high-end PCs. In 2008, youíll see that populated further into mainstream products.Ē There are some obstacles to widespread adoption, though. Before we examine those, however, letís take a look at the technology.
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