The two Microdrives of 2GB and 4GB capacities proved to be faster than three other miniature HDDs in my tests, especially at read operations. Reading a long file, the Microdrives even reached the performance of CompactFlash media. This result is likely to be due to the efficient card-reader from SanDisk which doesn’t limit the transfer rate and allows the Hitachi drives to fully realize their potential (the other drives had been tested earlier in a different card-reader). The speed boost is present in write operations, too, but its value is smaller, not allowing to break far away from the other HDDs.
I compared the Hitachi drives to CompactFlash media, which are themselves not the etalon of speed today, and the outcome was not very reassuring. The Microdrives are less appealing and would be downright poor if I were to compare them with the new generation of memory cards that provide data transfers in 80x or even 100x mode. There wouldn’t be any competition at all in this case.
Anyway, Microdrive family devices still maintain a certain price advantage in comparison to CompactFlash cards of the same capacity, and I may venture a supposition than newer Microdrive models will have better speed characteristics. On the other hand, Hitachi is unlikely to achieve real competitiveness of its products without a serious price reduction in the near future, since CompactFlash media have been developing very fast in terms of both speed and capacity recently.