back to article Seagate parades spinning skinny model to oust flash from fondleslabs... almost

Would you trust a tablet or a smartphone with a hard disk rather than flash storage? Seagate hopes its Ultra Mobile HDD will persuade you to trade rugged but pricey solid-state memory for 30 times more storage space than your average (16GB) tablet sports. Seagate claims the skinny, 96g 500GB UM HDD offers the same “power, …


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  1. Arachnoid

    One really has to ask

    Why take this backward step when solid states main advantage apart from low power consumption, is the lack of moving parts ?

    1. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

      Re: One really has to ask

      Ever tried to buy a tablet with 500GB of storage?

      1. Steve Todd

        Re: One really has to ask

        But how many people NEED 500GB of storage in a tablet? I'm quite happy with a 250GB laptop for serious mobile use, and that includes virtual machines. For tablets two things are happening. (1) Flash memory is getting cheaper (I can see entry-level memory moving to 32GB for example) and (2) as the Internet becomes more pervasive people are storing their stuff for mobile use on it.

        1. dajames Silver badge

          Re: One really has to ask

          But how many people NEED 500GB of storage in a tablet?

          I'm not sure that's the right question ... How many people NEED a tablet? Very few -- possibly none -- but lots of us have them anyway.

          If I had to take an easily-bored family on holiday for a week, then a tablet loaded up with at least two ripped DVDs or Blu-rays for each day would seem like a smart thing to distract them with. Fourteen DVDs at 9GB comes to 126GB -- so a 128GB drive is already too small. (OK, so most DVDs don't use the full 9GB, but you get the idea). For an HD tablet you'd want Blu-ray resolution and the storage taken would be even more.

          500GB is only two steps up from there.

          Again, nobody NEEDS this, but I can see a lot of people wanting it.

          [Icon, because I'm thinking of the children ...]

          1. Steve Todd

            Re: One really has to ask

            Firstly anyone with any smarts transcodes the DVD rip to h.264 anyway (better quality and less storage space needed than MPEG2), so your DVD quality movie space requirement drops to a little over 1GB per movie, call it 20GB tops for 14 movies. Secondly unless you are in the back end of beyond you can keep at least some of those files on the cloud.

            As for HD, I find a 4GB 720P rez file is just fine, and again you can keep those on the cloud also.

            So when I say NEED, I mean in what circumstance does a 32GB tablet not have enough storage capacity to hold the media that they cannot access other than locally.

            1. Simon Brown 1

              Re: One really has to ask

              "So when I say NEED, I mean in what circumstance does a 32GB tablet not have enough storage capacity to hold the media that they cannot access other than locally."

              I take it you don't go camping then?

              I've been twice this year. First time I was on a campsite right next to a mobile mast and so was easily able to stream iPlayer and Sky's equivalent from the comfort of my sleeping bag.

              Second time and signal was patchy at best. If I woke up early I was able to turn the phone on and download a shortish podcast by the time we'd had breakfast a couple of hours later. The only streaming going on was rainwater down the tent one night.

              The 32GB SD card in my phone is normally running with 5 - 11 GB free. That's a (annoyingly) small proportion of my music collection plus whatever snaps and videos I shoot on the phone when I don't have my DSLR to hand (and photos and videos are cleared out pretty regularly so I only keep a core selection on there likely to be of interest to friends and relatives when we're visiting).

              I'd love to have space for more music (so I can hopefully find something to listen to when I'm driving that the wife won't object to) and for films/tv to entertain me and the missus when we're away from civilisation.

              1. Steve Todd

                Re: One really has to ask

                Welcome to the forums Mr Edge Case. You can always find someone who needs a particular set of technology (and even campers tend to get close enough to civilisation to download enough media to keep them going in the wilds for a few more days). Does that make you a big enough market for such a device to be built? I suggest not.

                1. JEDIDIAH

                  Re: One really has to ask

                  Most consumers are stupid and need someone to lead them around by the nose. If some well advertised company doesn't offer a product, then it doesn't exist. This is the case with beefy media players. The rubes don't see the potential of a 500G tablet so they don't demand it from Apple. They are content to be force fed whatever the guy living in the castle on the hill wants to give them.

                  A fat Archos is great because you can load it up once and largely forget about it.

                  The problem with underequipped media devices is that you always need to futz with them. You have to constantly decide what you do or don't want on them. UIs don't impact this problem.

                  You sound like someone declaring "but I don't need access to my whole music collection".

                  1. Steve Todd

                    Re: One really has to ask

                    On the contrary, you CAN access your whole music collection (and more), plus your whole video collection and anything else that you can think of PROVIDING you are in range of a decent Internet connection. If you are out of range you are limited to the size of your local cache. This is plenty good enough for the vast number of tablet users.

          2. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

            Re: One really has to ask

            If the family is that easily bored I'd leave them at home with the DVDs and enjoy the holiday by myself!

  2. Julian Bond


    Never mind a slab, I'd like to see this kind of thing in an update to the iPod Classic. It's late 2013, so where's my 1TB iPod? And if I can't buy one from Apple where can I buy an equivalent?

    1. Professor Clifton Shallot

      Re: iPod

      I don't get this either - everyone I know who likes to take their music around with them is clinging on to ageing iPods in lieu of anything newer or more capacious. Mobile connectivity is not yet good enough to migrate entirely to the cloud so the original iPod would still seem to have a purpose and therefore a market.

  3. Justicesays

    It's not like this is a new concept

    Just thinner with more storage

    Archos tablets have had hdd's in them for ages. I haven't seen them being hugely popular however.

    Worked for the iPod though.

    1. JDX Gold badge

      Re: It's not like this is a new concept

      Indeed. I never heard the iPos classic had problems and that must take far more jiggling since people use it on the move, even running, whereas tablets are generally used while standing still. People surely don't throw their tablets around much, they're too expensive and shiny to risk scratching!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: It's not like this is a new concept

        The iPod is a very specific device though (playing media), and so it can cache songs in RAM and not touch the disk as much, and any harddisk motion protection stuff won't cause a delay. But for general usage in a tablet, if this head protection is kicking in all the time it may be a real pita.

    2. Wanda Lust

      Re: It's not like this is a new concept

      Errr, it certainly didn't work for the early iPod w HDD.

      While running with the iPod for entertainment, the iPod would hang after about 20 minutes. That's all it would cache before needing to refresh the cache. Too much jiggy and the disk wouldn't be spin up again to reload the cache. IIRC, putting it on an arm band rather than a waist bag reduced the jiggy & all was well again.

  4. Buzzword

    Like Henry Ford said....

    “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”

    This drive is a very fast horse in a world of Model T flash storage.


      Re: Like Henry Ford said....

      > This drive is a very fast horse in a world of Model T flash storage.

      ...which reminds me of a Tom Selleck western where some jack*ss in an early auto gets himself stuck in the mud. Tom's horse has no problem with the mud and gallops off triumphantly into the sunset.

  5. HMB

    Local Storage vs Cloud

    Surely the point of these tablets is to deliver media from the cloud? Now we can pay again for TV series that we've watched on TV, bought on DVD and bought again on bluray ;) OK, that was facetious. I love my iPlayer and 4od on my tablet.

    Sure, there are us geeks too. We have media servers and apps like VLC.

    Is a portable device really sensible as a media hub? Do I want to pay more for a tablet and copy lots of video files to it slowly over WiFi or USB2?

    In a word, as far as I'm concerned, no.

    Putting a load of storage into a tablet (unless it's free) seems rather redundant and silly to me. I don't want to pay for it in terms of money or decreased reliability.


      Re: Local Storage vs Cloud

      You whine about the slowness of WIFI and USB2 and then declare that local storage is silly.

      That's such obvious nonsense.

      You have just demonstrated the reason why local storage is better. If wired connections are too slow then wireless ones certainly will be. That's not even getting into the problems of reliability and availability. Then add in bandwidth caps and international roaming.

  6. Arachnoid

    For extra storage

    It is possible to have a wifi enabled hard drive and stream it yourself or if your tablet supports it connect via usb but given the suggestion was about camping, I was thinking that this was supposed to be back to nature and away from modern technology,work and head aches type of holiday.

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