We're not exactly clear why Seagate re-released the 18LP AV in a 160/m configuration. We've heard some rumors that the 18XL/36LP series experienced delays and thus the 160/m 18LP AV was forced to hold over performance-oriented users. More likely, however, is that Seagate still has quite a few 3 gig platters left over from last generation. So, instead of selling users the same old drive simply because the parts are lying around, why not at least update the interface to something more current? This looks like the path Seagate chose.
At any rate, the competent performance that this year-old design turns in once again goes to show that sequential transfer rate is relatively unimportant in the majority of everyday applications. In most cases (IOMeter, WinBench 99 Business Tests), the 18LP AV keeps right up with the newer 36LP. Thus, the Cheetah 18LP AV may very well be a contender for performance-oriented users especially if the price is favorable compared to current generation models.