Data storage for home, small business and laptop users is about to enter another explosive growth stage, writes Tony Scott, product director at Spectrum Multimedia.

Solid state drives are being introduced into laptops less than one tenth of the size of a standard drive. This could make laptops half their current size. Presently, the disk drive in a laptop takes up about 30% of the internal space.
Boot times will be reduced from about three minutes to about 20 seconds because solid state drives are faster than traditional storage.  They are also more resistant to damaged from being dropped.
Portable hard drives, a little lager than a cigarette box in size, can now hold up to 160Gb.  And external drives are available with a capacity of 750Gb.  
External drives are incorporating features such as auto-backup, auto-switch-on and auto-switch-off.  These features make the drives easier to use and add to their functionality.  
A new card known as an Express card, the size of a memory stick, slots inside a laptop without protruding. The capacity starts at 8Gb and goes to 32Gb.  Users can backup data to the Express card, and it is also removable.  Soon all new PCs will have an available slot for an Express card, providing high-capacity data portability.
In areas such as photography and business presentations, the need for storage is increasing.  A PC with 10Gb was sufficient for the home or office five years ago. Now, retailers are gearing this Christmas to supply PCs with 500Gb disk capacity.
Another trend is in price reduction.  The price of flash has come down in three years by about 80%. Three years ago 1Gb cost about R1000. Today it costs about R200.  The long term price trend for all storage is downwards.
In terms of video recording and television, South Africa is moving to HD-TV. South Africa must broadcast the 2010 World Cup in HD-TV format and this means that  technology will become the broadcast standard in the future.
Data capacity requirements will increase 10-fold.  A single movie or soccer game could require 10Gb of storage for HD-TV.  Currently the capacity required is about 1Gb.  Overall, storage is taking on different forms. It is becoming faster, cheaper and more reliable with more functionability and capacities are growing exponentially.