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Toshiba debuts Bluetooth hard drive for PDAs

Toshiba has married its card-sized hard disk drive with Bluetooth wireless technology to come up with a portable storage device aimed at PDA (personal digital assistant) users who need large-capacity storage.

The Hopbit, which will be unveiled at the World PC Expo in Tokyo next week, contains a 5Gbyte version of one of Toshiba's 1.8-inch hard disk drives and offers about 80 times the memory storage space offered by Toshiba:s Genio 550 PDA and 10 times the capacity of the largest memory card on the market.

It will hold around 1,000 average-length MP3 audio tracks, 3,000 digital images from a 3-megapixel camera or 37 hours of MPEG4 video encoded at 320 by 240 pixels and 15 frames per second.

A Bluetooth transceiver embedded in the Hopbit means it can be accessed from the PDA and also from other devices equipped with Bluetooth, such as desktop PCs. Bluetooth's device-linking function and proprietary software should ensure that data remains accessible only by approved users, said Toshiba.

The Hopbit B105H will go on sale in Japan from 1 November and will cost ¥50,000 (£263), making it an attractive option for PDA or mobile PC users that want extra storage space at a low cost.

A similar investment in SD (Secure Digital) memory cards would buy around 768kbytes of storage, or around one-seventh the space offered by the Hopbit.

The device measures 110mm by 70mm by 22mm and weighs 180 grams. A rechargeable lithium-ion battery should allow the Hopbit to run in standby for around 200 hours or in operation for six hours off a single charge.

Toshiba has no plans at present to put the Hopbit on sale overseas although the company will consider such sales should it be a success in Japan, said spokeswoman Midori Suzuki.

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