Networking company Buffalo Technology has finally launched its external SSD drives at prices that promise to steal a share of the portable market from old-world 2.5 inch hard drives.

The capacities of the new MicroStation drives are modest by the standards of a spinning drive - 32Gb, 64GB and 100GB - but there are other features to tempt buyers beyond the Gigabytes.

The first is perhaps size. Weighing around 60 grams, the aptly-named drives are not much bigger than a credit card at 57 x 14 x 89mm, a form factor that looks tiny next to the supplied wrap-around USB 2.0 connector and cable used to attach it to a PC.

The other advantages are ones inherent to the SSD (solid-state drive) concept, that of shock resistance and power consumption. As to performance, Buffalo claims up to 35Gbytes/s transfer rates if used with the company's proprietary TurboUSB drivers though it is likely that under real-world loads the actual rates achieved will be somewhat lower.

Street prices are quoted as being £98.25 (ex. VAT) for the 32GB model, £195.31 for the 64GB model and £292.38 for the top-end 100GB version, a premium compared to today's portable drives, but perhaps worth it for what is on offer. The drives also come with an encryption suite for added security.

The company has bided its time over this product, having trailed it many months ago in its home market of Japan. The new drives are identical to those on offer at that time, albeit with the new ‘Micro' drive branding.