Last week, Verbatim announced its InSight external hard drives that have a small text window that can display a label and the amount of free space available. It’s a literary fit for Verbatim, which is Latin for “word for word”, to have a few words on its storage line. The sleek, shiny, humped design of the InsSight makes it one of the best-looking portable hard drives on the market, and there’s some marginal utility to having a display on a hard drive. Indeed, to Verbatim’s advantage and in a modest example of Reed’s Law, the utility of the display goes up as you have multiple InSights as you can use the text to distinguish their contents.
Still, when i saw it, I knew the InSight wasn’t the first external hard drive with an LCD that stays on even when the device isn’t receiving power. SmartDisk offered the FireLite XPress hard drive with a 3” display that could display free space as well as much more text several years ago (I remember seeing them at CompUSA). The SmartDisk drive certainly didn’t look as good as the InSight, but the company produced some of the smallest external hard drives in its day, including the bantam FireFly that used the same kind of 1.8” hard drive used in iPods even today (though maybe not for long).
Whatever happened to SmartDisk? Surprise, it was acquired by Verbatim back in 2007. Perhaps the new owners will also take a fresh stab at SmartDisk’s Flash Trax, which had a unique clamshell form factor in the niche market of external storage designed for field backup and display of photos for advanced amateur and professional photographers.