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Toshiba Enters Portable Storage Market

Toshiba Corp. -- known among consumers for its televisions, laptops and DVD players -- will begin selling portable hard drive products as well, becoming the latest company seeking to capitalize on people's expanding collections of digital data.

The Toshiba USB 2.0 Portable External Hard Drive will be available Monday in capacities ranging from 100 gigabytes to 200 gigabytes -- the largest capacity yet in a portable, compact form factor.

The device, less than an inch thick and smaller than a 4-by-6-inch photo print, offers the kind of storage space found on many laptop computers. It's designed to be a backup repository for computer documents, digital photos, videos or photos, and is rugged enough to carry on trips.

Prices start at $130 for the 100GB version and go to $230 for the 200GB model.

Other leading hard drive makers Seagate Technology LLC and Western Digital Corp. already offer similar devices with top capacities of 160GB.

Toshiba, the world's fifth-largest hard drive manufacturer, can claim the capacity crown for now, but analysts say it won't be long before other portable storage gadgets reach or surpass the 200GB mark.

John Rydning, industry analyst at market researcher IDC, said he believes portable drives of 250GB will be likely available by the end of the year.

Hard disk drive makers are continually racing to offer beefier, faster drives in all kinds of products as prices per gigabyte drop. Gadgets from portable MP3 players to digital video recorders and computers are getting more capacious all the time because of it.

Portable external hard drives like Toshiba's newest offering are in a fledgling but growing segment. IDC predicts more than 6 million units will be shipped industrywide in 2008, up some 58 percent from the 3.8 million units shipped in 2006.

"Each year, consumers are generating thousands of digital content files that represent cherished memories, beloved entertainment content and important family and business information, yet the notion of preserving this information with a backup solution is just beginning to take hold," said Maciek Brzeski, vice president of marketing at Toshiba's storage division.

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