The article amuses me "cannot compete with 80Gb hard drives". We don't need 80Gb hard drives for most of what we do on the PC. Your apps and the files you work on can easily fit on a 30Gb drive. My windows partition is about 3gb and my apps partition about 6gb and most of what's on those is totally unused and they could be shrunk significantly. Then my "files" directory is about 20Gb but most of it is archive and I have it archived 2 other places too, so I could remove it. There's only a few gig of stuff that has been used in the past year.
The things that take space:
* huge archive of images I never do anything with
* huge archive of photos I need to keep but look at rarely
* 50Gb of mp3 / oggs
* some video files when i decide i want to try to learn video editing again (twice a year)
* archive of software
* archive of old code, old files
Most of these you don't need on your main drive. The music is the tricky one I guess.
I think I could fit my OS, the apps I use regularly, and the files I work on currently on an 8Gb thingie. I could have a second, mostly-asleep drive with apps i use less, games, and files i occasionally need + the usual external archive drive.
I am thinking as I write here but for me the ideal system would be:
1. Small boot/activity drive which is low power, totally silent, and very fast. I.e. some sort of solid state flash memory.
2. A larger traditional drive which is turned off most of the time, but accessible on demand - for the games, music files and less often but still regularly needed files. It could also have everything that is on drive 1.
3. An external repository for archives, backups, files you might need to check out now and then
Something that would be even cooler would be a system that lets you move files to the active disk, kind of like a check in/check out system, when you use them, then back in the other drive (or the off machine archive) when you're done with it. Then if you don't use them a while moves them to the back up disk, to make space for things you use more. Either it would ask you (a bit like the annoying "unused files on your desktop" pop up) or it could do it automagically for you. So if you use an app or a game a lot for a while, you could "move" it to the active drive, then move it back off when you don't
All this won't be needed once flash drives are 100Gb at a reasonable price but for now it'd be nice. It's really a pain that moving apps is so hard on windows nowadays.
The current things available in the mini-itx and embedded motherboards tend to go up to 4Gb. Which is huuuge when you're using linux or bsd but just too small for much under windows. 8Gb at a reasonable price is probably not too far though...