Seagate has unveiled a new type of hard drive that has been specially designed for tablets. The 500GB device is only 5mm thick and has been designed to offer the same power, performance and reliability as a flash device. In a day and age when Google wants you to store everything on the cloud, as does the NSA, it is refreshing to see a new call for larger internal storage capacities.

Clearly one of the advantages of flash memory is that it doesn’t have any moving parts and isn’t prone to breaking due to accidental shocks. However Seagate says that it has designed its Ultra Mobile HDD with this in mind and has included safeguards that include shock management, heat and vibration and gyroscopic motion. To further improve shock management, the new hard drive includes Seagate’s own Zero Gravity Sensor (ZGS) which detects if a tablet is in free fall and parks the drive head within 60 milliseconds.

The drive is so well insulated that in many cases a dropped device's screen would break before its hard disk drive.

It has also addressed the power consumption issues and the company says that a tablet using 8GB of flash and the Ultra Mobile HDD has the same power consumption as a tablet with 64GB of flash. With multiple power modes (sleep, standby and idle) the hard disk can consume as little as 0.14W meaning it shouldn’t impact battery life much more than current flash solutions. As for performance, Seagate reckons that the same setup offers the same performance as a 16GB tablet.

In terms of size and weight the 2.5-inch drive is just 5mm thick and weighs just 93.5g (3.3oz). This 5mm little unit provides up to 500GB of storage which is of course more than seven times that of 64GB flash modules. According to Seagate calculations, you can store 125 movies, over 8,000 hours of music or about 160,000 photos in 500GB. Seagate’s estimates could be a little low as most MP4 files that are delivered by online services are around the 2GB mark (for SD).

Seagate hasn’t announced any actual partners yet for the new hard drive but assuming that the cost, performance and reliability features are exactly as Seagate promises then this HDD looks like a very viable option for tablets.

So what do you think, would you like to see a tablet with a 500GB ultra-thin hard drive?

Gary Sims
Gary has been a tech writer for over a decade. Prior to that, he had over 10 years of experience as a software engineer.