Son of the USB 2.0 Hi-speed Flash drive roundup
April 20, 2005 3:21 PM   Subscribe

Ars Technica has an updated review of ten different USB 2.0 flash drives. In the market for a floppy drive replacement? Have you just purchased a flash drive and want to know how it stacks up to the competition? Read on to see which drive meets your needs and what extras you get for the cash. With which USB drives have Mefites been most satisfied?
posted by johnnyace (30 comments total)
While read/write speeds are the metrics used in most reviews, what other indispensable features have you discovered that you can't live without? Are there any third party apps that make flash drives much more useful? Has anyone been dismally disappointed in their investment?
posted by johnnyace at 3:30 PM on April 20, 2005

Now, this is clearly not a case of a Corporate Shill post. There's nothing visibly tying you to any one company.

No, this is something much, much worse. MARKET RESEARCHER!!!

I kid, I kid! I like mine because it's got a little plastic cover that actually stays on in my pocket instead of falling off all the time, like another one I had. No more dust in the interface.
posted by gurple at 3:35 PM on April 20, 2005

Why is this the best of the web? You have a string of really excellent posts. Why this? Will we be posting dishwasher reviews next?
posted by caddis at 3:43 PM on April 20, 2005

I have the PQI I-Stick primarily because of its size. It's incredibly small, so I keep it in my wallet. It's also pretty fast. I don't think any features besides speed and size matter. (Reviews said the software that comes with my drive is terrible, I never installed it.)
posted by knave at 3:45 PM on April 20, 2005

Maybe I can redeem the post by respectfully recommending the Magnatune TunePlug -- the only USB flash drive that is demonstrably not evil.
posted by Vallenwood at 3:47 PM on April 20, 2005

*rubs eyes*

Nope, screen still isn't green.
posted by peacay at 3:49 PM on April 20, 2005

*rubs eyes* Nope, screen still isn't green

Phew ... and I thought it was only my eyes - or, a broken monitor.
posted by ericb at 3:56 PM on April 20, 2005

The... TunePlug? What were they thinking?
posted by boo_radley at 4:05 PM on April 20, 2005

I'm waiting for this to come out.
posted by me & my monkey at 4:12 PM on April 20, 2005

I apologize to those not interested in the review, but I posted the FPP because Mefites tend to be a tech-saavy bunch and I was looking for more information before making a purchase myself. Yes, Slashdot may have been the more fitting venue for this type of discussion, but surely some of us have a few worthwhile cents to add.
posted by johnnyace at 4:21 PM on April 20, 2005

johnnyace - there's no porblem with your post, but peacay's and my comment indicates that we both think it is more appropriate for posting at Ask MetaFilter (aka "the green").
posted by ericb at 4:26 PM on April 20, 2005

*no problem*
posted by ericb at 4:26 PM on April 20, 2005

me & your monkey: second that. Obviously it reverses the trend of having MORE inconvenient items (one usb key, one flash for my digital camera, one for xyz) and it also reduces overall buying costs. Which in exchange will drive common flash and common key prices down much to my pleasure and into my wallet capacity.
posted by elpapacito at 4:30 PM on April 20, 2005

My 1GB Lexar is a real workhorse & I don't know what I'd do without it. But, for just plain cool, it's gotta' be the engraved SwissMemory® stick I got for Christmas...clients practically swoon.
posted by taosbat at 4:42 PM on April 20, 2005

I love this post because I want one of these and had no idea which was the best. Now I pick one... only to find it's sold out most places! Damn you internet. Good post.
posted by chaz at 4:57 PM on April 20, 2005

One thing that I need with mine is a clip to put it on my keychain-- I want one to transport big files between jobsites, and I know I'd lose one if it wasn't attached to my keys. So that narrows it down to about 35% of all of these produced.
posted by chaz at 4:59 PM on April 20, 2005

Tell you what irks me. Both my Sony and my Memorex USB keychain drives work fine. BUT on the Memorex the little plastic loop that attaches to the keychain broke. On the Sony the flange that holds the cap on broke as well. In both cases they're useless in terms of their original function -- storage that's conveniently available on a keychain. What's the use of whizbang technology if it's undermined by the failure of a 1 cent part?
posted by QuietDesperation at 5:05 PM on April 20, 2005

Hm... It seems like that first problem should be easily fixed with a bit of string, QD.

I have kind of an older 128meg stick from CRUCIAL which has treated me well. I use the noose attachment to make it easy to find (and therefore hard to lose) in my pocket. I've been looking to get a 1gig drive recently... Thanks for the pointer.
posted by kaibutsu at 5:52 PM on April 20, 2005

I was too lazy to hook up my floppy drive when I switched cases the other day. Anyone else seen a decrease in the durability of floppies? I swear they don't make them like they used to. I used to leave floppies laying around the house for months, blow off the dust, and reuse them with no problems, but it seems like nowadays that even having them in a case, at least a couple are useless after a month or so.
posted by angry modem at 6:42 PM on April 20, 2005

I thought I never had a use for one until I found a 64 mb one under the driver seat of the car I bought in January. Since then I have used it a few times and it has been convenient. I probably wouldn't buy one though as I have an external firewire/USB 2.0 case that holds a laptop hard drive in a sweet leather case. I have a 30 GB drive in there. But, since I happened upon the free one, it is nice to have in the inventory and I did use it tonight.
I did think this was an odd fpp as well though, at least on the blue it was.
posted by a3matrix at 7:22 PM on April 20, 2005

I second that, angry modem. I had floppies with stuff I had written in WordPerfect 5.1 for DOS from 1990–1992 laying around. They all read fine. I have a box of Memorex floppies that are no more than a couple of years old. Half of those floppies were crap out of the box, and of the ones that actually work, about 30% seem to fail every few months. Most of them are now worthless. Writing data to a floppy is as good as throwing it away these days.

That's when I copied any floppy I had to hard disk as images, ripped out my floppy drive, and bought a Geek Squad 512MB USB Flash drive. It's very handy. It just saved my bacon at a talk I gave -- forgot my CDROM reader on the laptop.

(I still haven't tried to update a BIOS via bootable CD-ROM, though. But my BIOSes are old enough that they aren't being updated anymore. And my newest machine has no BIOS, as its a Mac).
posted by teece at 7:27 PM on April 20, 2005

I bought a 1GB Lexar for too much money about a year and a half ago, but never regretting it -- the thing positively saved my life when I had to spend three days under heavy tech support fire at a client site, during a bad software implementation. Just stuck it in the back of the machine and I was golden.

Mostly right now I carry around a 512MB Cruzer Micro, which is mostly solid steel and has a nice lanyard attachment. I don't even bother trying to copy to the hard drive on my laptop anymore, just synch to the Cruzer and plug it in when I get to the coffee shop. (Yes, I use my laptop in coffee shops...)

I have a 1GB PQI on backorder for about a third the price of what I paid for the original Lexar. I'll probably just keep that in my wallet all the time.

Finally, I spent something like $20 to get a combo card reader in the form factor of a USB keychain-sized drive; it can read SD (which my camera uses), MemoryStick (which my old Clie used), and CF, and is smaller than a tin of Altoids gum.

In general, these things have been enormously handy, since I still haven't figured out how to make Win2K and OSX talk over the network. They're also great for data recovery. I was skeptical when I started hearing the "USB flash drives will replace floppies" mantra, but I'm a believer now.
posted by lodurr at 8:00 PM on April 20, 2005

I'm waiting for "Abbott & Costello meet the USB 2.0 Hi-speed Flash drive roundup."

What's with the Roman numerals? It's a subjective evaluation score, fer cryin' out loud, not a Pope or even a Super Bowl or Rocky movie.
posted by pmurray63 at 8:14 PM on April 20, 2005

I prefer my USB drives in Pepsi Blue flavor.
posted by bshort at 10:04 PM on April 20, 2005

In my experience, floppies are as reliable as they ever were provided you format them yourself (full format, not quick format) before you write anything to them. If you don't, they often fail within a couple of months. I blame badly aligned high-speed formatters at the floppy disk factories, and low morale among factory staff - 0.0014GB storage media are not very useful, and 3.5" disks are not retro enough to be cool.

Which reminds me: I've still got a few MBASIC 5.0 programs on 0.000256GB 8" CP/M floppies lying around somewhere. Must dig them out and see if I can still read them.

As far as flash drives go - I'm waiting until I can carry a DVD-quality copy of Terry Gilliam's "Brazil" around on my keyring for less than $100. Talk to you again this time next year.
posted by flabdablet at 2:26 AM on April 21, 2005

What the article lacks is any mention of reliability. I bought a Lexar 256MB drive for my wife a year ago. 6 months later it died. No machine will recognize it at all after many different boot attempts and so on. She had convinced a friend of hers to get one before that happened and 4 weeks ago it did the same thing. On a trip home over the weekend I discovered my brothers Lexar 1GB drive did the exact same thing.

Where would one look to find info regarding these sorts of issues with USB drives?

Thanks for the review link, though, it is very useful.
posted by Qubit at 7:11 AM on April 21, 2005

Has anyone been dismally disappointed in their investment?

128MB FlashHopper by SmartDisk. Died after 6 months. I have no idea if it was USB 2.0 or 1.0 or 0.5 or what, just that it was a POS.
posted by Dean King at 7:54 AM on April 21, 2005

Gmail is my flash drive.
posted by bigdaddy at 8:46 AM on April 21, 2005

angry modem: Anyone else seen a decrease in the durability of floppies? I swear they don't make them like they used to.

On the upside they don't cost $8 a piece anymore either.

I've got a 512 Apacer specifically because of that cap restraint cable loop. The thing hangs on my carbinder along with my 3" key ring and has been trouble free for months now.
posted by Mitheral at 9:25 AM on April 21, 2005

I concur with Knave and Odinsdream - the intellistick is one heckuva keydrive. Haven't had a problem getting it recognized by any machine (exept for older machines without USB).

At first I was afraid that sitting on it would be a bad idea, but I've had it caseless in my wallet for about a year & some-odd and it's fine. I love the little led on it that lights up when data's being transfered.
posted by PurplePorpoise at 10:36 AM on April 21, 2005

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