One of the first things you learn about hard drives is that you should handle them with care. The mechanisms and magnets that make up a drive are somewhat fragile and you don't want to lose data or have a system crash because you bumped your drive.
That's why you have to be especially careful with your laptops. The drive, tucked away in the laptop's case, is vulnerable to vibrations and the occasional drop.
So why would anyone put their hard drive through a torture chamber - a paint shaker - while it is operating? That's what they were doing for a demo at Lunch at Pieros at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2008.
In Lexar's Crucial line of products, they have drives with Solid State Drives (SSD) technology. SSDs are flash-based drives that offer greater reliability and faster performance than traditional magnetic hard drives.
Don't worry that you will lose data when the power is turned off. SSDs use non-volatile flash memory so they can be used where you would normally used a standard magnetic hard drive.
The 2.5" form factor and SATA connection make them drop-in replacements for your current SATA magnetic hard drive. The specs say: "Consisting of just NAND, a controller, connectors, and a PCB, the SSD has no moving parts, creating greater stability by eliminating the mechanical delays and failures associated with a conventional magnetic hard disk drive."
So what are the advantages of an SSD?
We all know that heat is not a friend to our PC components. But an SSD doesn't have any moving parts so heat dissipation and noise are reduced or eliminated. And check out the paint shaker demo to witness the shock and vibration tolerance. Don't try that with your magnetic hard drive.
Again, the SSD has no moving parts so a Solid State Drive require less power which also improves battery life.
You know that grinding sound you hear when your drive (especially older drives) start up or shut down? Magnetic drives need to spin-up and down. And of course they have parts moving for every seek.
"Without the moving mechanical parts that cause latency issues, SSDs are not impeded by spin-up, seek time, or rotational latency. This equates to faster boot times, faster application loading, and greater overall system responsiveness. Via SATA, the Crucial 2.5-inch SSD offers a host data transfer rate of up to 3Gb/s, backward-compatible to SATA 1.5Gb/s."
No spinning parts mean no noise or hum from a Solid State Drive.
Ever burn you lap on your laptop after it's been on for awhile? Since SSDs produce little-to-no measurable heat (remember - no moving parts!) your laptop will stay cooler.
And SSD's weigh less than traditional mechanical drives.
Obviously, this is the drive for road warriors in rugged environments (like in butter-fingered hands). But look for their external storage kit to turn it into a portable USB drive or an internal drive for your desktop PC.
The downside? When I saw the drives they were only available in 32 and 64 GB sizes and they are much more expensive than standard magnetic drives (over $500 for 32GB and $1000 for 64GB).
I expect the capacity to increase and the price to decrease in time. Meanwhile if you need the features of the SSD, the Crucial products are there for you.