By Patrick Avenell

SYDNEY, NSW: Hitachi has this morning announced the release its first range of external hard drive devices into the Australian market. There are two series in this range, each with 320GB and 500GB capacity models.

The premium units in the range are the two SimpleTough Portable USB 2.0 Drives. These models are designed with a robust exterior to protect the internal hard disk from corruption through shocks or exposure to water.

Features include plug and play functionality, water resistance, shock resistance to 3 metres, included back-up software, 2GB of online back-up protection, built-in USB cable and a 3-year warranty.

This model has a 480MB/second transfer rate and is compatible with Windows 2000, XP and Vista; and Macs OS X and 10.3 or later. The RRPs are $139 for 320GB and $199 for 500GB.

The other series in the range is the SimpleDrive range. This range is designed more for the style-conscious, sacrificing much of the tough features of the SimpleTough range in favour of a modern design. It’s available in two colours: blue (320GB) and black (500GB). Except for the built-in USB cable and water and shock resistance, this model includes similar features to the Tough units. Specifications including transfer rates and system requirements are identical.

The RRPs for the SimpleDrive series are $119 for 320GB and $169 for 500GB.

“Today’s announcement further extends the Hitachi GST brand into the worldwide consumer market with the reliability, confidence and dependability you would expect from global hard drive supplier,” said Hitachi GST director, Asia Pacific, David Chua.

“Given the global strength of Hitachi, we are well positioned to move our Branded Business and the industry forward.”

Update: Hitachi’s representitives have since contacted to report that the 2GB of online back-up is not available in the Asia Pacific region.