San Jose, Calif. - Hitachi Global Storage Technologies today upgraded its LifeStudio external hard drive line with revamped software and a new marketing philosophy.
The line consists of four SKUs, two portable and two for the home, with capacities ranging from 250GB to 2TB. The drives will ship in mid-July with prices ranging from $79 to $219.
Azmat Ali, Hitachi's consumer marketing VP, said external hard drive innovation has always been centered on design and capacity, but with these new models Hitachi is emphasizing the experience the drive can deliver.
"We don't want the drive to be just a data dump," Ali said. "We start at protect and store and go to sharing and organizing with the intent to eliminate 'lost sharing moment.' "
This is done via the new sharing software that quickly recognizes all photo, music and video content stored on the connected computer and making it available for view on the interface's 3D wall," said Ravi Adusumilli, Hitachi's global director, software and web services.
The wall displays the images chronologically by year and month and allows the user to slide down the wall to find the required photo. Music and video content is displayed in the same fashion.
The ability to share photos was also given special consideration, said Ali.
"Social networking is now the primary method of sharing photos," Adusumilli said.
To facilitate this, the software directly connects with the several social-networking sites, including Facebook, Flickr and Picassa. There is an icon on the 3D wall that will push photos from the computer directly to the social-networking site without the need to log onto the site each time. Once the software is giving the initial go-ahead to access the site, it will do so automatically in the future.
The software will also go out onto the web and find video content on sites like YouTube or Hulu.
In addition, it can work in reverse by pulling down the owner's photos, along with the photos of their friends that they are allowed to access, Adusumilli said.
Hitachi also made a major addition to the hardware itself, said Ali. Two of the four new SKUs, one portable and one desktop, include a detachable 4GB USB drive. These are mounted on the front and are held in place with a small magnet.
Ali said customers using the portable drives were concerned that they would lose important data if they lost or dropped their drive. Now they have the choice of taking the entire drive, or shifting the data needed for the day or trip over to the USB drive and just taking that instead.
Hitachi hopes that by creating an external drive that does much more than just store and back up content, consumers will be more inclined to buy an external hard drive.
"We found that 70 percent of people know they should back up their PC, but only 30 percent of those do so," he said.
The included backup software installs directly off the hard drive and allows the user to set up a backup schedule to both the drive and to the 3GB of free online storage space supplied by Hitachi. Additional storage is available for a fee.
To help explain all this to in-store customers, Hitachi has developed an end-cap video demonstration. The same video will be supplied to online retailers as well, Ali said.