Western Digital today announced the availability of its Scorpio Blue 500GB hard drive. According to the company, the new 2.5-inch SATA hard drive delivers high-performance with a 3 Gb/s transfer rate, while including proprietary features that make it extraordinarily quiet and perfect for notebook computers and portable storage devices.

Other big names such as Hitachi, Samsung and Fujitsu have long-announced their own 500GB offerings, but Samsung is the first to offer a drive sporting both a standard thickness of 9.5mm - meaning a drop-in upgrade will be possible for most laptop users - and a two-platter design. Using 250 GB-per-platter technology will not only help WD lower manufacturing costs, but is also a step forward towards even higher capacity notebook drives.

The WD Scorpio Blue 500GB hard drive operates at 5,400rpm and is now shipping through retailers for $219.99, while a 400GB version is available for $189.99.