It is easy to get wrapped up with speed testing and forget about real world use of portable flash media. Most of the drives tested serve a purpose other than just being fast. Rarely will a user plug a drive in, transfer data and think to themselves "Wow, that was fast". Although several products tested in this article are capable of doing so.
When purchasing a thumb drive, first consider what you are using it for and how it will be transported. In Asia flash media has become a fashion statement; it is not uncommon to see a drive around a persons neck or wrist attached to a gold or platinum chain. In the U.S. most IT workers and college students keep a drive on a keychain with their house and auto keys. These users need a drive that is more durable since you rarely think of your key ring as being a delicate item. For these users I really like the Super Talent Pico Series drives and specifically the Pico C. The Pico C is small enough to attach to just about anything and the build quality is top notch. I attached mine to a zipper on a backpack I use to carry my notebooks when attending industry meetings and for overnight visits out of town.
Professional users and high level IT managers need products that are secure since most of the data being transported is of a sensitive nature. With the new HIPPA laws a company could actually be fined if data is found to be located on unsecure devices. Drives like the Kingston Vault Privacy and Lexar Secure II are ideal for these users. Secure flash media generally costs a little more than your average drive and when it comes to total security, the cost can be escalated to nearly five times the standard rate compared to a drive of the same capacity. This cost is far less than the fines handed down from government agencies and I am sure you would get more than a talking to from your supervisor if your company had to go on the morning news to tell thousands of customers that their data has been posted on Usenet because someone lost an insecure drive.
For some casual users, a thumb drive is an extension of their personality or a long time love of a product or character. If you shop at the Disney store for yourself or a child then the Disney licensed products from A-DATA certainly are for you.
Enthusiasts will always stick to their tried and true ways and go for speed. And in this category two products stand above the crowd. The Lexar Lightning and Kingston HyperX are very fast when compared to other offerings. The fastest products usually require a price premium and these two are the same; expect to spend a little more for the speed, but if speed is what you desire then you can't go wrong with these two products.
For the typical consumer, purchasing a flash drive is about price and convenience. While ordering from Newegg is a something most do for graphics cards and processors, the average user is going to walk into a brick and mortar store and compare capacity to price of the other drives in the same store and make his buying decision based on what is presented in front of him. Certainly, better deals can be found online outside of retail, but the fact is flash media such as thumb drives are now commodity items meant to be used and abused until the day they are left at a university computer lab or fall behind a desk not to be seen for months. In that time, you simply go out and pluck down another 30 Dollars and give little thought to your purchase other than remembering to pick up another one while getting that spindle of blank DVDs from the big box shop. If that sounds like you, then just about any drive will do as long as it is in stock, looks nice and is cheaper than the others offered on the retail floor or sitting by the cashiers table.
I want to thank all of the companies who submitted drives for this roundup which has been in the making for several months now.
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- Page 1 [Introduction]
- Page 2 [A-DATA N702]
- Page 3 [A-DATA S701 (Eee PC Edition)]
- Page 4 [A-DATA T801]
- Page 5 [A-DATA T802]
- Page 6 [Crucial Gizmo! Plus]
- Page 7 [Gingle T01 Twist Disk]
- Page 8 [Kingston DataTraveler 400]
- Page 9 [Kingston DataTraveler HyperX]
- Page 10 [Kingston DataTraveler Vault Privacy]
- Page 11 [Lexar JumpDrive FireFly]
- Page 12 [Lexar JumpDrive Lightning]
- Page 13 [Lexar JumpDrive Secure II Plus]
- Page 14 [Super Talent Pico A]
- Page 15 [Super Talent Pico B]
- Page 16 [Super Talent Pico C]
- Page 16 [Testing and HD Tach - Write Performance]
- Page 17 [HD Tach - Read Performance]
- Page 18 [Final Thoughts]
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