There's nothing trendier—or faster—than an external SSD or USB 3.0 thumb drive for lugging data around. Mechanical drives are still the kings of capacity per dollar, though, and they don't have to be all that much bulkier than their flash-based brethren. Case in point: Toshiba's freshly unveiled 2.5" Cavio Slim portable external drive, which packs 500GB of capacity wrapped in a slick, 9-mm-thick brushed aluminum shell.
The drive has a 5,400-RPM spindle speed, 8MB cache, and 12-ms response time, so it's no speed demon. Nevertheless, Toshiba has outfitted the Cavio Slim with a USB 3.0 interface, enabling peak transfer rates as high as 5Gbps. You're not likely to get anywhere near that, of course, but it beats sluggish USB 2.0 speeds. Toshiba ships the drive with backup software (NTI Backup Now EZ) and offers three years of warranty coverage.
This puppy is definitely a looker. The 4.21" x 2.95" x 0.35" (107 x 75 x 9 mm) dimensions are nice and compact, and the drive weighs only 150 g (a little over five ounces). Naturally, you'll want to avoid sudden bumps and shocks—there are fragile mechanical components in there, not flash chips on a circuit board. Considering the $115 price tag and resulting per-gigabyte cost of 23 cents, however, I'm sure some folks will be happy to compromise. (Thanks to eWeek for the tip.)