USB flash drives are a dime a dozen now a days. They’re cheap to make and generally inexpensive to purchase, especially as flash memory prices on the manufacturer level continue to fall. USB flash drives, for those that don’t know, are essentially portable storage units that you plug into the USB port of a Windows PC or Mac so you can transfer files to and from the drive. Transfer times — especially across USB 2.0 compatible drives — are quick, and you can easily slip the thumb drive back into your pocket once you’re done.
Since almost all flash drive makers have devices with good storage capacities (the highest we’ve seen thus far is 64GB), we are going to take a look at some of the unique features these drives have. In some cases, we’ve chosen a drive because of a particular hardware function, while in others, we are impressed by what software comes pre-installed.
Verbatim Store ‘n’ Go U3 Smart Drive
The Verbatim Store ‘n’ Go U3 Smart Drive is an example of a USB flash drive enabled with U3 technology. The U3 platform, which is available via several flash drive manufacturers, provides users access to portable versions of popular Windows-based applications that can be launched off of and run from the drive itself, with full cleanup of one’s workspace when the drive is removed from a host PC. The Verbatim drives, which are available in 1, 2, and 4GB configurations, come pre-loaded with eight applications. These include an e-mail client, digital magazine reader, photo manager, and data archiving. These applications are launched from a central software application and can be joined by other programs you download to the drive from the U3 website. The 1GB model has a street price of around $30 USD, 2GB for $45 USD and the 4GB model can be had for under $75 USD. Compare Prices
Lexar JumpDrive Mercury
The most interesting feature of the Lexar JumpDrive Mercury, which is available in 1 and 2GB memory configurations, is a display built on the exterior of the drive that shows the remaining amount of storage in the drive’s memory. This electronic paper display technology is independent of an operating system and works even when the drive is not connected to a host computer. Besides the external display, the Lexar JumpDrive Mercury also has security software installed on it for password-protecting data and thoroughly deleting files so they can’t be recovered. The 1GB JumpDrive has a street price of $30 USD, while the 2GB version comes in around $50 USD. Compare Prices
SanDisk Cruzer Contour
The SanDisk Cruzer Contour, as far as USB flash drives go, is one of the most stylish thumb drives we’ve ever seen. N attractive black, glossy exterior hides a well-designed sliding USB connector that can be popped out to plug into a computer and retracted when not in use. The Cruzer Contour, which comes in 2, 4, and 8GB configurations, will, like the Verbatim Store ‘n’ Go, also come pre-loaded with U3 smart applications. These include VoIP, password management, anti-virus, and photo management software. The drive also has a nice looking blue LED. The SanDisk Cruzer Contour will be available in late April.
Kingston Data Traveler Reader
The Kingston Data Traveler Reader, which comes in 1, 2, and 4GB memory storage sizes, offers up an innovative feature that may appeal to digital camera owners: a built-in memory card slot. This slot can read natively SD and MMC memory card types and through its USB connection can allow one to read the card’s content on a host computer, just as if that computer was reading the flash drive’s memory. The Kingston Data Traveler Reader has a compact form factor as well. The 1GB model will run you about $30 USD while the 2GB goes for $40USD. Kingston is not currently listing the 4GB price a this time. Compare Prices
Edge Tech DiskGo Biometric Flash Drive
Those seeking to protect their USB flash drive’s data as much as possible might want to take a look at the 1, 2, and 4GB configurations of the Edge Tech DiskGo Biometric Flash Drive. This drive actually has a built-in sliding mechanism, which hosts a biometric reader that you swipe your finger over to access the drive’s data when connected to a host computer. This DiskGo model also comes with password management software and 192-bit TDS encryption for additional protection of its digital contents. Edge Tech sells the 1GB version for $65 USD, the 2GB for $90 USD and the 4GB model for $125 USD. Compare Prices