Samsung will next month launch two portable computers that use flash memory instead of a hard-disk drive for data storage, the company said on Tuesday.

Flash memory has long been seen as a potential replacement for hard drives because it works faster, is lighter and more shock-resistant, but it's still more expensive than a hard-disk drive. Despite the costs, flash memory chip prices are coming down to a range that some specialist users might be willing pay for the benefits.

Samsung has built 32GB of flash memory into a case the same size as a 1.8in hard-disk drive. The so-called "solid state disk" (SSD) has the same interface as a hard-disk drive, so it can be directly substituted with little extra work required.

There are several benefits to using flash memory, said Samsung. The flash drives can withstand about twice the impact as would cripple a similar hard disk, and are much less effected by harsh environmental conditions. Read speed is 300 per cent faster and write speed 150 per cent faster than a hard-disk drive, so systems boot faster and data can be loaded more quickly. The solid-state disks also make no noise when in use.

The Q1-SSD will cost 2.3 million won ($2,452) and the Q30-SSD will cost 3.5 million won. Equivalent models of the same computers with hard-disk drives cost 1.2 million won and around 2.6 million won respectively putting the SSD premium at about $1,175.

Samsung said nothing has been decided regarding an overseas launch of the SSD-based computers.