Storage vendors just won't give up trying to make their drives as small as possible. The latest example is Freecom's wallet-sized, 80 gram, ‘USB Memory' portable drive.

The drive's real claim (see <a href=" http://www.freecom.com/objects/00014786.pdf"target="_blank"> image and spec sheet here </a>) to fame is that it does this without sacrificing much capacity.

Despite its enigmatic name the new drive is actually just a standard 1.8 inch hard drive in a case with the 8.2cm x 5.8cm footprint almost identical to that of a credit card. The point of all is shrinking is to offer users a drive that can compete with a USB stick for convenience but while offering a much larger capacity, in this case, 120GB or 160GB.

Small external drives have been tried before using the same 1.8 inch technology, but they have tended to stick to the lower capacities that lose out to USB flash memory sticks in the price stakes. The USB Memory is said to have low power use, has no need of a cooling fan for its 4,200rpm internal drive, while security comes in the form of an encrypted password required to access the drive.

"The drive pushes the boundaries of storage to size ratio, giving computer users a compact and easy place to store their data whether it is for business or home usage," said Freecom's Axel Lucassen.

The company is also pushing the drive for uses that go beyond conventional PC backup and data transportation, pointing out that its size makes it possible to contemplate using it with devices such as TVs and in-car hi-fi that are now coming with USB host ports.

The USB Memory will cost £99 in the UK (160GB) or £85 (120GB), inv VAT.