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Seagate Intros USB 3.0 External HD

Seagate will introduce two new products here during International CES: a USB 3.0 external hard drive and a new, shorter version of its Free Agent Go.

The USB 3.0 external hard drive falls under Seagate’s Black Armor family. Designated the PS-110, the device will operate at speeds 10 times faster than a USB 2.0 port, said Jon van Bronkhorst, product marketing executive director.

Since most PCs are not expected to have USB 3.0 factory installed when the PS-110 ships, Seagate is bundling a USB 3.0 Express card so a consumer can upgrade his/her PC. This will remain in effect until Intel integrates USB 3.0 onto its motherboards, which is not expected until at least 2012.

The PS-110 will ship in January. A price point has not been set, but van Bronkhorst said it will “not be inexpensive” due to the need to bundle the 3.0 Express card.

The PS-110 is a 500GB unit and has a theoretical data transfer speed of 4.8GBps. The actual speed will be somewhat lower, van Bronkhorst said.

“We feel people are moving around bigger and bigger chunks of data,” van Bronkhorst said, noting that applies to the very early adaptors who are clamoring for 3.0, particularly to move HD movie content around their home networks.

Despite the rather narrow initial audience, van Bronkhorst said retailer interest in the unit has been so high that Seagate’s original plan for a small product run has been scrapped and it will now produce more. He did not say how many will be produced.

The new Free Agent Go is basically the same as the currently available model but 10mm shorter. Pricing and shipping for this version was not available at press time.

Seagate is also broadening the performance envelope of its Free Agent Plus model by adding the ability to download and view YouTube video along with several news and video RSS feeds.

In addition, van Bronkhorst said the company will announce a partnership with a well-known video-on-demand provider. He would not give details but said it will help position Seagate to deliver content to a home system, something he expects to be big in the coming year.