We've been waiting an age for Western Digital to do this...
Thankfully with the launch today of its first consumer focused solid state drives the move means all the major HDD makers have now made strides into SSD and this should help drive down prices.
As for the drives themselves, the 'SiliconEdge Blue' series is right up with the best of them clocking impressive 250MBps read and 170MBps write times. On top of this they pack in advanced wear-levelling and error correction control well as TRIM and NCQ (Native Command Queuing) command support which help improve drive reliability and safeguard for performance degradation.
In fairness this move had been long expected ever since it bought SiliconSystems, an enterprise SSD specialist, in March last year. At the time I predicted we'd have consumer SSDs within 12 months so thanks for bailing me out of this one by a matter of weeks WD!
We await UK pricing, but given their enterprise heritage US RRPs aren't cheap at $279.00 (£186) for 64GB, $529 (£353) for 128GB and a whopping $999 (£667) for 256GB. These are quite a bit above what we've seen recently so fingers crossed WD will use its muscle to drive these costs down over the next six months.
In related news Buffalo has done the decent thing and slapped USB 3.0 onto its new MiniStation Lite 2.5in portable HDDs. Rather incredibly, Buffalo doesn't actually say what speeds these drives will consequently be able to attain instead sticking to the fairly meaningless "up to five Gbits per second" theoretical maximum of USB 3.0 (which is actually 4.8Gbit/sec for the record).
That said, it is a welcome development and USB 3.0 is backwards compatible with USB 2.0. 500GB and 640GB MiniStation Lite USB 3.0 models will launch in April for £109.99 and £139.99 respectively.