Nov. 29, 2011 at 1:13 PM ET
You may not know what a hybrid hard drive is, but anyone with an aging laptop should learn. Seagate just introduced its second-generation Momentus XT. The jargon may be intimidating, but if you don't look into it, you could be miss out on a cheap powerful upgrade.
Hybrid hard drives are awesome: They combine a regular magnetic disk with a small, super-fast solid-state drive (SSD). An intelligent processor on the drive itself copies the most important and frequently used files to the SSD, so that everyday interaction with your computer is very fast. In fact, if all of your day-to-day work fits on the SSD, you basically get the same performance as much more expensive SSD-only drives. Because of the on-board intelligence, nerdy chores like disk defragmentation just aren't required.
As for speed testing, our friends at Laptop put the new Momentus XT through the paces, and determined that, app launching, file opening and booting up a computer are all "significantly faster than those of a 7,200 rpm hard drive and only a little bit slower than an SSD."
The new Momentus XT lists for $249, and has 750GB of storage. Spec-wise, compared to the original, it's got a much speedier connection between magnetic drive and SSD, and has double the size of the SSD (from 4GB to 8GB).
My breathless enthusiasm isn't because I was taken in by a press release. I have tried out the first generation and it provided a very noticeable speed bump, particularly with apps I use every day (I'm looking at you, Outlook for Mac). Adding a hybrid drive is a good way to revive an aging machine without spending too much money.
While the new 750GB Momentus XT is going on sale now, last year's 500GB model, still a great performer, is available for $150 or less. (Here's more on the news from Seagate.)
More on Seagate and competitors from msnbc.com's Gadgetbox: