NWA-PCUG Newsletter Article, September 2010
Variations On a Theme of Flash Drives
Reviewed by Fred Wasserman, Vice President, Programs
Seniors Computer Group, California December 2009 issue, Bits and Bytes

scgsd (at) cox.net (click to email author)

Flash drives have become not just interesting little toys but essential storage and data transfer tools. How many of us still use floppy disks to pass data along from one computer to another? They fit in a shirt pocket. For bigger stacks of data, a CD or DVD was necessary, but didn’t fit in that shirt pocket. When flash drives came along disk media were relegated to just long-term storage or for sending data by mail. Flash drives in use is doubling every year. That means there is a real opening for manufacturers to come up with newer and better versions of the product.

I came into possession of some really interesting and useful variations on the flash drive, or thumb drive, as it is sometimes called. They both held my interest as very useful devices. One is so small and flat that it can easily be put in your wallet where it would probably make less of a bulge than a folded dollar bill. Great idea. They both come equipped to clip on to your key chain. The larger one, called “TUFF-CLIP” has a retractable protector on the connector end and a spring latch to connect to anything like a key ring. The little one, called “TUFF-N-TINY” can also be attached to a key chain with the supplied lanyard. A consideration with that USB Drive is you must remember to keep the contacts facing up when connecting it to the USB port, though it won’t suffer damage if you don’t.

It doesn’t just stop there. The TUFF-N-TINY is completely sealed, water and dust resistant, measures just 1 by ˝ inch and is no thicker than a penny and offers 2, 4 or 8 Gb of storage for $12 to $27. Until now, the one flash drive weakness was their fragility. These are complex little devices with their delicate circuit board components within some kind of brittle plastic casing soldered to the external connector. But this Verbatim product addresses the fragility problem by design and elimination of the weakest point, the connector-to-body attachment. The connector, electronics and housing are just a single strong plastic potted circuit board.

TUFF-CLIP, the other innovative USB drive, is an extremely tough unit that is designed for extreme environments and can be clipped to backpacks, belt loops key chains or what have you.

As an added convenience, both come with the application built in to encrypt the data contents in any Windows environment. If lost or stolen, your data is safe but only if you use that capability.

Last, but in no way least, is that these USB drives are enhanced for users of the newer versions of Windows. They are Readyboost capable. You will ask, what is Readyboost? With Widows Readyboost which is available with Windows Vista and Windows 7, you can use appropriately designed USB flash memory to improve performance without having to add additional memory to the computer internals. The flash drive acts as the additional memory cache that, like your installed RAM, can be accessed faster than hard drive storage. Visualize 4- or 8-Gigabytes of additional memory to speed up your large file-intensive programs such as working on a large Photoshop image.

Verbatim, producer of the old - inch floppy that my first computer ran from has added these new products to its expanding line of useful media and is still making the good stuff.

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