seagateSeagate is showing off a portable USB 3.0 drive that it says is three times faster than its predecessor.

The hard disk maker is unveiling the BlackArmor PS110 USB 3.0 portable external hard drive kit for laptops at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas today. The package includes a 500-gigabyte hard disk in a 2.5-inch-wide housing, a power cable and PC express card.

You need all that stuff now because there are no USB 3.0 ports on computers yet. They’re mostly the older USB 2.0 ports. But with the kit, you can plug an express card into your PC. Then you plug the USB 3.0 cable into the express card. And finally, you plug another USB 2.0 plug into a spare USB port to get power for the external drive. It’s complex, but that’s the way it has to be until more USB 3.0 ports are built into gadgets and computers in the next couple of years, said Jon van Bronkhorst, vice president at Seagate, in an interview today. 

The extra speed comes from taking an older, existing hard drive and packaging it with a faster universal serial bus (USB) interface. Theoretically, USB 3.0 is 10 times faster than USB 2.0. In theory, USB 2.0 can transfer 480 megabits a second and USB 3.0 can transfer 4.8 gigabits a second. But in practice, the actual gain is more like three-fold. Western Digital also announced its own USB 3.0 solution for desktop computers in a 3.5-inch wide package today. 

The storage device is aimed at making it easier to store digital content, from movies to photos, as consumers collect more and more digital assets in their daily lives. The USB 3.0 interface allows for the easy transfer of large files at a rate of 100 megabytes a second, or three times faster than USB 2.0 devices that have been around for years. That means you won’t have to wait as long for data transfers or backups to finish. For video fans, that is very important, especially if you’re shooting high-definition video with your camcorder.

The kit costs $179.99 and is available now from Seagate.com.