Here come solid-state drives for mobile computers

January 11, 2008

If you worry to death about dropping a laptop or tablet computer and wrecking its hard drive, you may want to pay more for a sturdier machine-one with a solid-state drive.

If you worry to death about dropping a laptop or tablet computer and wrecking its hard drive, you may want to pay more for a sturdier machine—one with a solid-state drive.

Solid-state drives, or SSDs, are bigger versions of the "flash" memory found in iPods and digital cameras. Unlike traditional hard drives, which consist of a spinning disk and read/write heads, SSDs have no moving parts to break. That makes your data safer. SSDs also weigh less, generate far less heat, and use less battery power. Another advantage is speedier computing—you boot up faster with an SSD than with a traditional hard drive, for example.

Dell and Fujitsu introduced tablets and laptops incorporating SSDs last year, and Toshiba plans to debut them later this year, some with a storage capacity of 128 gigabytes. The big downside to these computers is cost—an SSD can jack up the price by hundreds of dollars despite giving you fewer gigs of storage in the process. Case in point: A Fujitsu LifeBook B6220 with a 32-gig SSD costs $489 more than the same model with a 60-gig traditional hard drive. However, SSD prices are falling, which will make the solid-state approach more and more tempting to doctors who compute on the run.

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