Toshiba has begun shipping samples of a new 2.5-inch hard drive that boasts a storage capacity of 30GB - the highest yet in this form factor, according to the company. The new drive has an areal density of 26.7Gbits per square inch. This means 15GB of data can be crammed onto a single 2.5-inch disk platter, of which two are fitted into the 30GB drive. A companion single platter 15GB drive is also shipping in sample quantities, Toshiba said in a statement. Although higher-capacity hard drives are available, they are generally based on 3.5 inch platters and are larger in overall size than the new Toshiba products which are 9.5mm high, 100mm long and 70mm wide. The drives feature an average seek time of 13ms and a data transfer rate of 100Mbits per second, while rotational speed is 4,200rpm. They weigh under 100g. Additionally, the drives can withstand 175 times the force of gravity (G) of operational shock and 800G of non-operating shock, the company said. Because of their high capacity and small size, Toshiba is targeting the drives at use beyond the desktop or notebook computer markets. The company said the drives could bring increased functionality to PDAs (personal digital assistants), digital music players, video cameras and other products that make use of audio-visual data. The drives are expected to be available commercially from March this year, a spokeswoman said. Pricing, either for the sample or commercial product, was not available from the company.