USB flash memory drives are now part of our lives. Smaller and with a capacity higher than floppy disks, these devices are the perfect replacement for the old floppies. This time we brought five new models from Geil (David 100), Kingmax (Super Stick), Kingston (DataTraveller Elite and DataTraveller U3 Smart) and OCZ (Rally) and added them to our previous roundup, so we are comparing nine different USB flash drives. Who is the winner?
Here is the full list of the USB flash drives we included in this roundup:
- Corsair Flash Voyager 512 MB
- Geil David 100 256 MB
- Kingmax Super Stick 256 MB
- Kingston DataTraveller 2.0 512 MB
- Kingston DataTaveller Elite 2 GB
- Kingston DataTraveller U3 Smart 1 GB
- MSI Mega Flash 128 MB
- OCZ Rally 512 MB
- OCZ Rally 2 GB
All of them are USB 2.0 and you may ask what is the difference between them besides their capacity. Well, there are a lot of differences. Models from Geil and OCZ use dual channel technology and should achieve a performance higher than other models (let’s see if this is true or not).
David 100 from Geil also has a side slider that retracts the USB connector, protecting it from breaking when the unit is transported, see Figure 1. While this is a good idea, in our experience we had trouble breaking the USB drive while it was connected on the computer, not while it was transported.
Kingmax model, as far as we know, is the smallest USB flash drive in the world and really waterproof. It is so small that it is almost the size of a paper clip. It is not only small, but also very thin.
Corsair Flash Voyager is also waterproof, but you remember what happened to it after a while. Since Kingmax model uses a different kind of connector, we think it won’t have the same fate of our Flash Voyager. In fact, Kingmax model is the only model that seems to be really unbreakable for us.
While Kingston DataTraveller 2.0 is a regular USB flash drive, DataTraveller Elite features a built-in hardware-based encryption engine (128-bit AES), being a terrific product if you want to carry very confidential data. You need to use Kingston’s encryption software, TravelerSafe+, to encrypt your data. If you don’t use it, DataTraveller Elite will behave just like a regular USB flash drive.
DataTraveller U3 Smart also brings something different: it is considered a “smart drive”, using U3 technology (see http://www.u3.com). This technology allows you to carry the necessary software to work with your files automatically in the drive, so when opening your files in a different computer, you will be able to work with them even if your software of choice isn’t installed on that computer. Really cool.
Let’s now see the performance of the selected USB flash drives. To read more about the other models, read our September 2005 USB Flash Drive Roundup.