Seagate’s 5mm Laptop Ultrathin SATA HDD is small enough to fit into a tablet

5mm_Laptop_ultrathin_HDD_dyn-Hi-Res[1]Now that mini-Windows tablets like the 8-inch Acer Iconia W3 are upon us, we might be needing more than just the typical 16GB of on-board flash storage in our tablets sooner than we think. Seagate is already thinking ahead by debuting its thinnest hard drive yet: the 5mm-thin Laptop Ultrathin HDD available in 320GB and 500GB capacities.

As its name suggests, this is a traditional hard drive, not a solid-state drive. Traditional HDDs usually offer a lot more storage for the money than the more expensive and smaller capacity SSDs. As a result, it has a standard 2.5-inch design that uses a SATA 3 (6Gbps) cable but is also compatible with SATA 2, which means it can be plugged into everything from your desktop, laptop, Ultrabook to even a future tablet that you can upgrade on your own.

Compared to current laptop hard drive designs, this Laptop Ultrathin HDD is already 30 percent slimmer, which makes it easy to slip inside Ultrabooks and thin-and-light laptops that offer minimal internal Flash storage to keep the price tag low (we’re looking at you, 64GB MacBook Air).

Weighing just 3 ounces and about as thick as three credit cards stacked on top of each other, Seagate believes the Laptop Ultrathin HDD could unleash new designs for expandable storage. For example, future smartphone cases could feature a slot where you can slide in one of these tiny but large capacity portable drives to expand your mobile device’s internal storage. The Laptop Ultrathin HDD may look fragile, but it’s actually quite tough. In fact, its chassis is made of steel rather than aluminum like most of the 2.5-inch drives out there.

According to CNET, both the 320GB and 500GB Laptop Ultrathin HDDs are available now; expect the 500GB variant to cost in the neighborhood of $90.