With memory-sapping HD video content becoming more of a fixture on cable operators' video services, the big question for many consumers is what is in store for their increasingly overloaded digital video recorder hard drives.

The answer may well lie in external storage consumers can buy to pump up their video storage, and hard drive provider Seagate Technology is showing off a rack of prototypes, including an External Hard Drive device with as much as 400 Gigabytes of storage that can plug into a Scientific-Atlanta Explorer 8300 DVR.

Also on display is Tornado, a concept device with removable storage cartridges consumers could collect just as they now do with VCR tapes. The company hopes to have a working model ready in June.

"People have a shelf full of video tapes — this would be similar, but it's not tapes. They are drives," said Rob Pait, Seagate's director of global consumer electronics marketing. "Concepts like this work because you can buy as much capacity as you need."

Digital rights management also comes into play, and Pait said Seagate's DriveTrust firmware can assign digital security rules to the copy stored on the drives. Another concept Seagate is developing would configure the drive to work only with certain devices such as set-tops, preventing the content from being transferred outside of a home network.

Seagate also is working an IP-addressable drive with a wireless radio interface that will allow the storage unit to serve as a networked content store for the home. The interface could be either the 802.11n standard under development, WiMAX or Wi-Fi, Pait noted.

"We will have some kind of network storage box by Christmas," he added.

Seagate plans to work with set-top box makers including S-A to field its products, but it also may wind up selling them at retail as well, Pait said.