Just in time for smaller laptop computers and other consumer devices that require smaller hard drives, Fujitsu Tuesday is unveiling two new 500GB hard drives that are thinner, use less power and take up less space in devices than previous models.

The US-based company said the 2.5-in.-wide, 5,400 rpm Serial ATA drives are reduced in thickness by using two internal 250GB storage platters rather than three 166GB platters used in previous drives. The transfer rate for the new units is 3GB/sec.

The new drives are 9.5mm in height, down from 12.5mm in the previous versions, according to Joel Hagberg , vice president of marketing and business development. They also consume 1.4 watts of power, making them 53% more efficient than the former generation of drives, he said.

The model MJA2 BH drive is a standard notebook-size drive , while the model MJA2 CH drive includes full-disk data-encryption capabilities for data security, using the 256-bit Advanced Encryption Standard.

In addition, both models are 100% halogen-free, which reduces the amount of hazardous materials used in their production, according to the company.

Both drives include improved resistance to drops and other physical shocks, as well as 27% faster internal transfer rates. No pricing has been announced for the drives, which will be available in the first quarter of 2009.