Koninklijke Philips Electronics is trying to squeeze the size of a CD drive and fit it into portable devices such as mobile phones, PDAs (personal digital assistants) and digital still cameras. Using blue laser technology, the company has managed to miniaturise a drive for a 3cm-diameter optical disc that can store up to a gigabyte of data.
The Amsterdam-based company demonstrated what it claims to be the world's first fully functional prototype 5.6cm x 3.4cm x 0.75cm optical drive by replaying audio data on a 3cm optical disc, according to Philips.
The data capacity of the disc is 1.5 times more than that offered by current CD-ROMs, said Koen Joosse, a Philips spokesman. By comparison with flash storage media - which are used for conventional mobile devices such as digital still cameras, mobile phones and PDAs - CDs currently cost less.
However, "there are a number of challenges to get optical discs into small devices", said Wolfgang Schlichting, a research manager of removal storage at IDC.
There are three main points that need to be dealt with: optical drives are still costly to install in handheld devices; the physical size of the optical drives, which have to be larger than the discs themselves, is inconvenient in comparison with flash memory cards; and since optical discs are rotating media, they consume more power than flash media.