IBM has tripled the storage capacity of its Type II Microdrive while reducing its physical size, the latest step by IBM to increase the storage capacity of handheld electronic devices.

No bigger than a ten pence piece the IBM Microdrive is capable of packing one GB of data storage, a threefold increase from its 340M byte Microdrive released last year.

The new 1G byte Microdrive will be able to offer high-capacity data storage to a range of handheld products, including digital cameras, handheld PCs, personal digital assistants (PDAs), portable Internet music players and video cameras, the company said in a statement.

"There is a tremendous potential for very small, high capacity ... affordable storage options for portable devices," said John Osterhout, worldwide marketing director for IBM's storage technology division, in an interview today.

Reducing the size of the storage drive will enable more flexibility in the design of portable devices, lead to an increase in applications for such devices, and effect a change in the way people experience consumer electronic devices, according to Osterhout.

However industry experts are warning that there are trade-offs between using a Microdrive and using a card based on CompactFlash technology.

One of the downsides to using the Microdrive is that it takes up quite a bit of power due to its rotating magnetic storage technology. CompactFlash cards, on the other hand, because of their solid-state semiconductor storage technology, take up less power than the Microdrives and therefore might be more attractive to the consumer.

Another trade-off to using the Microdrive is that it is less rugged than CompactFlash cards. This might be an issue for consumers in terms of potential damage from handling. People who use portable devices outdoors might opt for the CompactFlash cards because it is less likely to lose information due to knocks or bumps along the road.

In terms of price, Microdrive, although affordable for its high-capacity storage, is not scalable. A person who spends £300 on a digital camera, for example, may not want to spend another £400 on a Microdrive. He or she might want to spend around £30 for a 16MB flash card instead.

A full list of all Microdrive compatible products is available from