Sunday August 22, 2004 11:37 am
Kingston USB DataTraveler Review
Does anyone even use floppy diskettes anymore? These days, thumb-drives are all the rage. Not only do they hold more memory than conventional diskettes, they're much smaller and faster. We take a look at the tiny, but affordable offering from Kingston, their 64-Meg USB DataTraveler.
Two weeks ago, I took the trip down to my local CompUSA to shop for a new LCD display for my PC. My wife and I decided to get an entirely new computer, with the monitor bundled in, as it seemed to make pretty good sense. Imagine my surprise when I took the thing home only to discover that there was no floppy drive on the case. Instead, it offered a total of six USB ports, two of which were on the front of the case. Seemed like it was a good time to start looking into USB thumb-drives.
The DataTraveler is a solid choice for people in my situation. I may not want to have to burn a CD for every bit of data I need to transfer, and emailing also has its limits in terms of how big a file your server allows. True, there are USB drives out there that can store up to 1Gig, but you'll end up paying a lot more for it. The DataTraveler comes at a pretty attractive price: $16 to $25 depending on where you look for it online. It's small and durable, and it simply gets the job done.
Let's talk about what's most likely on your mind at the onset: transfer speed and functionality. The device actually offers 61.3 Megs of space, and it's a solid and reliable amount of storage. When first plugging the unit into the USB port, it takes about a minute for the PC to install the necessary drivers and to recognize the device as removable storage. After that, future recognition is almost instant, maybe a couple of seconds after you plug in.
Transferring a 59 Meg QuickTime movie to the drive took about 1:12 minutes on my work PC; this was even faster at my home desktop: 45 seconds. Copying the movie back to my home PC took about 12 seconds. Keep in mind that this is using the DataTraveler to almost full capacity, so you'll experience much faster speeds for everyday MS Office files. For example, a 24 KB Word document took less than a second to transfer from my PC to the drive. Very nice, indeed.
You'll note that the drive is a little bigger than a key, so it can fit comfortably in just about any pocket, another advantage it has over floppies. It feels very light, so much so that it seems like there's nothing much stored within the gray-silver plastic shell. The drive comes with a little cap to cover the USB plug, which snaps snugly into place. There are also two blue, grip-like surfaces on the sides of the drive, to make taking off the cap a little easier. It's good to know that it won't slip off accidentally, as it provides just the right amount of resistance. You do need to be aware of how you place the cap on, however. You want it so that the USB symbol is facing the side that says "Kingston". The cap still fits the other way around, but I had to squirm like crazy to be able to pull the cap off that way. You've been warned.
It sounds pretty crazy that an accessory would have additional accessories itself, but that's the case here nonetheless. First off, it comes with a small black cord, about an inch in length, that loops into a hole on the unit. This cord - which was a pain to get looped, though a bent staple helped me thread it through - is attached to a keychain-like ring, which itself is also looped around a gray shoestring-type cord. The shoestring, in turn, is connected to a small black buckle, that attaches to a long necklace, also made of the same gray shoestring. The shoestrings sport the word "Kingston" and "DataTraveler" on it, in case none of your friends know that you're on the cutting edge of digital technology.
The necklace might help you not lose the thing easily, but what's even more useful is the little USB extension cord that comes with the drive. It's about 4 inches in length, and acts as an extension of the port on your PC. This is helpful if your USB port is on the back of your case, so that it's easier to reach when you need to plug in the DataTraveler in a hurry. It's also useful if your other ports are occupied, which would make plugging the drive directly into your case a little cumbersome. It simply adds a little reach to your ports, so that you don't have to.
As you can tell from the image, the drive has a small triangular point on its surface, which lights up when the drive is connected, and flashes when it's in use. It's a nice reminder that the unit is in and functioning properly.
This is a very solid product. It does the job that it's designed to do, and provides virtually no fuss. It's reasonably priced, and works quickly and reliably to get your data where you need to take it. Those looking for some serious storage space, or extra frills may want to continue shopping for alternatives, but as a starter USB drive, you really cannot go wrong here. It's a convenient, cheap, no-nonsense drive, and it passes our tests with flying colors.
Name: Kingston DataTraveler
Category: 64MB USB 2.0 Flash Drive
Price: $16 - 25
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