SanDisk Wows The Crowds

SanDisk pulls a couple of very cool rabbits out of the hat at CES.

The SanDisk press conference was a pretty popular event. It seems that as soon as word goes round that a company is giving freebies away, the popularity of its press conference sky rockets. As I walked to the back of the very long and winding queue accompanied by Tony Smith from El Reg, we both noted that a significant number of people in the queue were neither Press nor analysts – I guess the draw of a free MP3 player is pretty strong.

In fact there were so many people in the queue that neither Tony or I even managed to get into the room! Hopefully SanDisk will actually put a registration process in place next year to ensure that the people who should be there actually manage to get in. But I wasn’t too bothered about missing the press conference, since I had arranged a one to one meeting with the SanDisk product managers.

There were three major announcements from SanDisk and they were all pretty exciting, even for a jaded old hack like me. SanDisk told me about the forthcoming launch of its 32GB Solid State Disk last week, so I was keen to see it here at CES.

The disk is a 1.8in device and SanDisk is marketing it as a direct replacement for a standard hard disk in notebooks. Of course SanDisk isn’t the first company to be pushing the idea of high-capacity solid state media in consumer devices. I reviewed a solid state version of Samsung’s Q1 UMPC a few months back, but Samsung has yet to release a proper notebook with an SSD in Europe.

Although the disk is being touted as a drop-in replacement for standard hard disks, SanDisk is targeting OEM notebook vendors first. I did ask whether the disk will be offered as a retail product but SanDisk would not confirm that it would be – the vibe I got definitely made me feel that this would be on the cards at some point though.

I was slightly disappointed to find that the drive is an Ultra-ATA device, rather than utilising a SATA Interface. When pushed on the issue of SATA support, SanDisk refused to commit to the prospect of a SATA version of the drive, but again, reading between the lines I would be very surprised if SanDisk didn’t announce such a product soon. I was also told that the company is already working on 2.5in devices, which will most likely be higher capacity disks due to the extra physical space available.

I definitely like the idea of notebooks with solid state disks and I’m looking forward to getting my paws on a review sample of SanDisk’s new drive. Rest assured that as soon as I get one of these babies in the lab I’ll be sticking it into the nearest notebook and putting it through its paces – watch this space.

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