Maxtor Rolls Out FireWire-Ready Hard Drive

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The way James Welsh sees it, if you want an external hard drive that combines high capacity with high performance, you have no choice but to opt for the FireWire connectivity standard over USB.

"It's like putting a V-12 in a car that can only take a four-cylinder engine," says Welsh, senior director of world wide channel business development for hard drive manufacturer Maxtor.

And so when Maxtor (800/262-9867, ) decided to produce a line of external hard drives, the company decided to build FireWire-ready devices instead of using the USB interface. Besides offering plug-and-play simplicity, FireWire devices feature a faster data transfer rate and more bandwidth -- essential criteria in the performance-driven world of consumer electronics.

The drives announced by Maxtor Monday come with two capacities -- 40GB and 80GB. The 40GB drive sells for $280 while the 80GB model is priced at $400.

"You're at $5 per gigabyte on the 80GB model," Welsh says. "We're proud of that."

Maxtor sees its FireWire external drives as ideal for consumers who need extra storage for digital video, music, photos, or games. Welsh says 80GB of storage translates to about 80 hours of compressed digital video, 8,000 3.3-megapixel-quality digital photos, or 20,000 four-minute song files.

The drives are configured for Windows machines; Mac users need to install a Mac OS driver that comes with the hard drive.

The 1-5/8-by-6-8-5/8-inch hard drive sports a Mac-like look, however. It's encased in translucent white plastic with gray corners. The FireWire drives will hit retail shelves later this month.

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