PDA, Notebook and Phone Reviews and buyers guide

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Flash Memory Card Reviews:

SD Cards
ATP Mini SD and SD cards High Speed 60x
Kingston Elite Pro 50x
Kingston Ultimate SD Cards 120x
PQI SD & mini SD High Speed
Ridata PRO 66x
SanDisk (Standard Speed)
SanDisk Extreme III High Speed

CF Cards
Butterfly Media
Delkin eFilm
Kingston Elite Pro High Speed
Ridata PRO 80x

Memory Stick / Memory Stick Pro

MMC Cards

RS-MMC Cards

PC Card Hard Drives
Toshiba 2 & 5 gig

Multifunction Drives
Ridata QuattroDrive

USB Flash Drives
Kingston DataTraveler Elite
Crucial Gizmo

Card Readers
Asante Gini 6 in 1
Crucial 6 in 1 Reader

Dazzle 6-in1 Reader
Proporta 7-in-1 Reader
Sandisk ImageMate Memory Stick Pro Reader

Card Cases

Handspring Springboard
MemPlug CF & MemPlug Smart Media

USB Flash Drives for your Notebook and Desktop Computer
Posted October 2004 by Lisa Gade, Editor in Chief

As you probably already know, the world of flash memory is large, encompassing myriad storage solutions. Flash memory is used to make cell phones, PDAs and cameras, and you can buy flash storage media to extend the capacity of your devices. These include the many kinds of storage cards reviewed on this site: CF, SD, MMC and Memory Sticks. In this review, we'll take a look at another class of flash memory product: USB flash drives. These devices use the same kinds of memory found in PDA storage cards, but unlike cards, flash drives have USB connectors and you can plug them into the USB port on your computer to backup or transfer files easily.

USB flash drives require no driver under Windows XP/2000/ME or Mac OS 9.1 or later: simply plug them and they're recognized as an additional drive on your computer. These drives come with drivers for older versions of Windows that are able to support the USB standard (Windows 98). You can drag files to these drives, create folders and delete data just as if it were a standard hard drive. Not only that, but these drives are incredibly small, measuring 2.5" long and approximately .5" wide. That makes them ideal for transferring files between home and work or simply bringing a large collection of photos or MP3s with you anywhere. In addition, flash drives are solid state and there are no moving parts so your data won't be jeopardized if the drive bounces around in your pocket or purse.

Flash drive performance depends on two things: the speed of the flash memory and the USB bus speed (USB 1.1 vs. 2.0). All flash memory is faster at reads than writes which means loading and viewing files on the drive will be faster than copying files to the drive. We'll take a look at a few of the latest USB 2.0 flash drives which offer excellent transfer speeds.


Kingston DataTraveler Elite

Kingston's impressive security software sets their USB drive apart from the competition. If you'll be carrying important, highly sensitive personal or company data on the drive, you'll want to consider the Kingston Elite. Why? USB flash drives are inherently portable and very small, which means the odds of forgetting it somewhere or dropping it without hearing it hit the ground are high. Nobody wants to leave their company's financials sitting unencrypted on the table of the local Starbucks, after all.

On the flash drive you'll find applications for encrypting the Elite, and you can create both public and encrypted partitions if you like. TravelerSafe + is the Windows-only application you'll use to create a password and encrypt the drive. PDF manuals on the drive walk you through the simple process and state that the application currently won't work if you have the Elite plugged into a port on a USB 2.0 PCI card. So use the built-in USB ports on your PC if you wish to encrypt your data.

What happens if someone tries using brute force to guess the password? After 25 attempts the software will lock down the drive and the drive must be reformatted. Kingston employs 128 bit AES encryption and unlike most other USB flash drives offering encryption, the Elite's is hardware based. The drive has a co-processor that handles encryption/description which means no performance penalty in drive speed and better security (the AES key isn't stored on the host computer). You can read Kingston's white paper on the security and data transfer speeds of this drive at

In fact, the Elite is Kingston's fastest USB flash drive, offering a peak read speed of 24 MB/sec and a peak write speed of 14 MB/sec. Those are very good read and write times, and the Elite is 2x faster than Kingston's DataTraveler II product. Since the drive supports USB 2.0, the USB will never be the bottleneck. But if you have only USB 1.1 on your computer have no fear, the Elite, like all USB 2.0 products, is backward compatible with USB 1.1.

We tested the time it took to copy a 220 meg Windows Media Player movie file to the drive. Using a Windows XP Pro machine with a USB 2.0 interface, the movie copied in a blazingly fast 10.8 seconds. The movie played perfectly from the drive.

Kingston DataTraveler Elite flash drives are available in 256 meg, 512 meg, 1 gig and 2 gig capacities. The security software is pre-installed on the drive and the unit comes with a protective cap for the USB connector, a key ring and a lanyard. It has an LED activity light that lets you know when it's safe to unplug the drive.

Web site:

Price varies with capacity: Manufacturer's suggested retail prices range from $50 (256 meg) to $274 (2 gig).



Kingston Elite USB flash drive


Crucial Gizmo! Hi-Speed USB Flash Drive

If you need lots of portable storage but don't have super-serious security needs, check out the Crucial Gizmo line of USB 2.0 flash drives. The Gizmo is one of the smallest flash drives and you won't notice it in your pocket.

The Gizmo line comes in 128, 256 and 512 meg capacities as well as 1 gig. They are up to 40x faster than first generation flash drives, and are very fast at file transfers. Flash memory is faster at reads than writes, so we tested the time it took to copy a 215 meg Windows Media Player movie file to the drive. Using a Windows XP Pro machine with a USB 2.0 interface, the movie copied in a quick 48 seconds. Read speeds are great and the movie played perfectly from the flash drive.

The Gizmo drive has an LED that indicates activity and a removable cap that protects the USB connector. It comes with a lanyard and key ring.

Web site:

Price varies with capacity: Manufacturer's suggested retail prices range from $29.99 (128 meg) to $159.99 (1 gig).


Crucial USB flash drive




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