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Hi-speed USB2 Flash Drive Round-Up 264

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the i-hid-it-in-my-space-cavity dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Ars Technica has a USB 2.0 Flash drive review featuring 8 drives from different manufacturers. What's so interesting about the review is that not all Flash drives are created equal. Some have very unique features while some are clearly better than others. They also took a detailed look inside one of the drives as well as put two drives in a RAID-0 array (a la Mac OS X). Now that's cool!"
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Hi-speed USB2 Flash Drive Round-Up

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  • by patrick.whitlock (708318) on Thursday June 03, 2004 @01:15PM (#9327354)
    not always, in my office we share usb drives to save time, so far they're the handiest things i've found so far... but if you really need biomectrically locked drive that looks like an inkpen, go right ahead
  • by Pieroxy (222434) on Thursday June 03, 2004 @01:17PM (#9327367) Homepage
    It's geeky to want to have redundancy and retain data?

    No, but that's not what RAID-0 is all about. I think you must be confusing the different RAID standards. RAID-1 is redundancy, RAID-0 is speed.

  • by Adriax (746043) on Thursday June 03, 2004 @01:17PM (#9327371)
    You're thinking raid-1, mirroring. This is raid-0, striping.
    One drive goes (or even connect them incorrectly...), you lose everything without hope for recovery.
  • by rot26 (240034) * on Thursday June 03, 2004 @01:19PM (#9327390) Homepage Journal
    The issue of durability and/or reliability wasn't addressed in the review but I have to say that I was impressed as hell when my Cruzer-mini went through both my washer and dryer with no apparent effect. That was several months ago and it still works great.
  • Re:Which is which? (Score:5, Informative)

    by ePhil_One (634771) on Thursday June 03, 2004 @01:21PM (#9327404) Journal
    -from the article- USB 2.0 now has three different signaling rates:

    Low Speed (1.5Mbps)
    Full Speed (12Mbps)
    Hi-Speed (480Mbps)

  • by You aren't funny (784227) on Thursday June 03, 2004 @01:21PM (#9327414)
    No it doesn't.
    The "R" in "RAID" stands for "Redundant". RAID level 0 is called that because there is no redundancy.
    You could say RAID 0 so it isn't even really a RAID level. It is more like AID.
  • Here's the summary (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 03, 2004 @01:28PM (#9327474)
    I hate when they put the article on multiple web pages. Even Tom's Hardware allows you direct access to the last page. Anyway, here's the conclusion [arstechnica.com]:

    Conclusion

    When we started this review, we only had an inkling of what we might come up with. By the time we finished, our perception that USB drives were a commodity was completely erased. While every USB Flash drive is essentially the same in that they carry data, they are all slightly different and not every drive will meet everyone's needs.

    Drive summaries

    PNY Attache: As drives go, this one was stylish and sturdy. It comes with a full assortment of accessories, including the USB extension cable and a neck strap. Aside from that, the drive itself is a rather lackluster offering. While much faster than any USB 1.1 device, the read and write speeds are rather slow for Hi-speed USB. The other unfortunate thing about this drive is the lack of extra software outside of the Windows 98 drivers. While it may be possible to find this drive for as little as US$15 to US$20 (after Mail-in-Rebate), it typically goes for US$30+. That is too expensive for such a mediocre drive. --- Score = 5/10

    SanDisk Cruzer Mini: Of all the drives in this review, this drive is the thinnest. Some might even call it sexy, but we would not go that far. Unlike most other drives, it does not block dual-stacked USB ports in the slightest. Other positive things include the excellent LED visibility, good read/write scores, and it even works in unpowered USB hubs. Even the CruzerLock encryption software was solid and pretty easy to use. Some complaints would be the lack of a write-protect switch and that the plastic loop for the lanyard is rather weak. (It's fine for hanging around your neck, but it certainly is not load bearing in the least.) That said, the prices found for the 128, 256, and 512MB models make this a good deal. --- Score = 8/10

    Mushkin Flashkin: We had mixed feelings about this drive. On one hand it offered a full complement of accessories and features, such as the standard neck strap, USB extension cable, write-protect switch, security software and it even worked in unpowered USB hubs. Yet despite this, everything about the drive felt like it was cheaply made and the security software felt like it was coded as an afterthought. The plastic body was very bulky and felt extremely hollow. On top of this, the slow read/write performance was troubling and the one-year warranty made us wonder how long this drive would last. Overall, the drive is not that bad, but what really lowered the score is that the price for the drive is more expensive than most of the other drives (which are notably better equipped.) --- Score = 6/10

    SimpleTech Bonzai Xpress: This drive has the best physical design of the bunch. It is both strong and sturdy, yet still compact and a comfortable to carry. While it does not come with a USB extension, it does have a write-protect switch and some very helpful file synchronization software. What makes this USB drive especially nice is the strong read/write speeds, the solid two-year warranty, and the very nice price (considering how much is included.) --- Score = 9/10

    Fujifilm USB Drive 2.0: Two words: speed demon. Without a doubt, this drive is fast! With top read speeds reaching 8.5MB/sec and write performance that destroyed the competition, this drive is perfect for anybody who is impatient or never seems to have enough time. Unfortunately, this drive has its drawbacks. The drive is the largest of the bunch, has no accessories included, no write-protect switch, no low-power support, and a higher price than most. Fortunately, it does come with decent security software and a lifetime warranty. --- Score = 8/10

    Verbatim Store 'n' Go: In a nutshell, this drive was consistently above average. Never spectacular, but never terrible either. Read/Write performance is definitely strong, but nothing amazing. It comes equipped with neck strap, USB extension

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 03, 2004 @01:33PM (#9327525)
    Here [arstechnica.com] is a link to summary/comparison matrix for those of you who don't care about the other details.

    Anonymous, 'cause I ain't no karma whore.

  • How about... (Score:5, Informative)

    by jwr (20994) on Thursday June 03, 2004 @01:35PM (#9327552) Homepage
    How about fixing USB 1.1 support in Linux first?

    USB must be the crappiest kernel subsystem in existence: I can crash 2.4 in a number of ways just by plugging in and removing USB devices. Bug reports are being ignored, sometimes people sugggest moving to 2.6.

    Well, 2.6 freezes dead hard when I plug in my USB audio device.

    USB is the primary reason for the short (several days) uptime on my laptop.
  • Look closely (Score:1, Informative)

    by Lord Zerrr (237123) on Thursday June 03, 2004 @01:44PM (#9327648)


    mushkin-inside [arstechnica.com]

    you can see a dirty fingerprint on the chip
  • by dgatwood (11270) on Thursday June 03, 2004 @01:45PM (#9327662) Journal
    I wish they had addressed the issue of reliability. I wouldn't have read the review if I had known that they skipped that. Frankly, we need a review of these flash drives that focuses -entirely- on reliability. What's the point of having a data storage device if when you need the data on it, you find the device broken beyond repair?

    I killed my Lexar JumpDrive "Secure" in about two months. My mother's class of about 15 people has killed somewhere around five of them in a semester. I don't know about the cause of failure in the others, but wIth mine, if you flex the heck out of it, you can sometimes get it to show up for a fraction of a second. In other words, the USB plug broke loose from the board inside.

    Needless to say, I don't intend to ever buy anything from them again. I'm not even going to bother getting them to repair it, since the replacement would seem to have about a 40% probability of failing in the first two months. Thus, I'm looking for a new flash drive from a new company, and my mother is looking for a new vendor to use for all the students in her class next year. Does anybody have any recommendations on low-power (keyboard-capable) flash drives that don't fall apart?

  • by antdude (79039) on Thursday June 03, 2004 @01:58PM (#9327792) Homepage Journal
    If the cap/lid comes off, there goes your USB Flash HDD! SanDisk and others are smart to put on the Flash drive, not the cap/lid! My 512 GB PNY brand (not the same one in the article) has it on the cap! I don't bother to wear it on my neck anymore since I can lose it easily.
  • by Ann Elk (668880) on Thursday June 03, 2004 @02:00PM (#9327809)

    FWIW: I have a MUVO NX (128MB, USB 1.1) and it rocks! The sound quality is great, I get at least 20 hours of play time on a single rechargable AAA battery, it's small, and durable. My only complaint is the headphones seem to be designed to tangle their wires as quickly as possible.

    The MUVO TX was announced about a week after I bought my NX. Such is life with technology. Grrr....

  • "Very Unique" (Score:5, Informative)

    by jmichaelg (148257) on Thursday June 03, 2004 @02:02PM (#9327839) Journal
    Something is either unique or it isn't. Saying "Very Unique" is like saying "very one of a kind."

    You'd think this place was run by /. editors or sumptin.

  • Re:How about... (Score:3, Informative)

    by AKAImBatman (238306) <akaimbatmanNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Thursday June 03, 2004 @02:24PM (#9328104) Homepage Journal
    My journal has the full details, but the problem is that it occasionally locks up after a period of use. The scary part is that the problem is well known [google.com], but no one has done anything about it. In fact, most people who complain about the problem are silently ignored.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 03, 2004 @02:33PM (#9328185)
    Have you ever picked one of these up? I have the Kingston version (Same as Fuji packaging) and the cap is fine, the drive isn't coming off unless you swing it by hand really hard at the end of a neck strap.
  • by Deffexor (230167) on Thursday June 03, 2004 @02:41PM (#9328253)
    Actually, we didn't ignore it. The article was focused strictly on Hi-speed USB 2.0 Flash drives. I don't know if you're aware of how many USB devices there are on the market, but there are a ton. If we had included the Muvo TX, then we would have had to include like a hundred other devices.

    Anyway, we are planning a follow-up article which will feature more exotic USB devices such as the one you mentioned.

    Cheers!
  • Re:Fuji flash drive (Score:3, Informative)

    by ericspinder (146776) on Thursday June 03, 2004 @02:50PM (#9328337) Journal
    I keep my flash drive on my keychain, but the loop is on the drive, and for a while it didn't seem like a good idea. Then I thought of using a keychain separator (I found this [branders.com] after a quick seach to show what they look like, you can find one at home depot). Now it works great and I don't have to worry about loosing everything but the cap.
  • Re:Win95 (Score:4, Informative)

    by default luser (529332) on Thursday June 03, 2004 @03:15PM (#9328595) Journal
    Actually, you're thinking of OSR 2.5 that comes with USB and AGP support.

    Win95b (OSR 2.0) only added FAT32 and other minor improvements. It does not support USB without a patch.
  • Re:Kanguru skipped? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Deffexor (230167) on Thursday June 03, 2004 @03:17PM (#9328613)
    We didn't review it for a few reasons.
    1) We wanted to focus on USB 2.0 Hi-speed devices (the link you have is for the slower "full speed" - a.k.a USB 1.1)
    2) We wanted embedded memory drives only. Upgradable models would have made the article more confusing.

    But don't worry, we have a follow-up article in the works that will feature more exotic devices.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 03, 2004 @03:49PM (#9328910)

    They probably don't know about mount -o ro,remount.

  • by Fragmented_Datagram (233743) on Thursday June 03, 2004 @04:04PM (#9329084) Homepage
    I love my MuVo [nomadworld.com]. It's small and works great with Linux. You can store any file on it, but only MP3 or WMA files show up in the song list. The MuVo NX [nomadworld.com] and the MuVo TX [nomadworld.com] look good too if you need more storage capacity.
  • by val1s (581256) on Thursday June 03, 2004 @09:05PM (#9331303)
    The official Swiss Army Knife company has come out with a USB flash drive enabled Knife. If I didnt already own a SanDisk this would be the one I'd get. They seem to be decently priced for Victorinox at $70 for 64 megs. http://www.victorinox.com/newsite/en/news/news_swi ssmemory.htm -val1s

It is better to give than to lend, and it costs about the same.

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