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Seven USB Flash Drives In Tests

From ATP, Corsair, PQI, Kingston and Silicon Power.

December 2, 2008



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Corsair Flash Voyager GT



We examined a storage drive with this name over a year ago. Why "this name" instead of "this drive"? The fact is, the old Voyager GT we examined and the new product are two different things. A year ago the company offered two series of products. Regular Flash Voyagers came in large capacities (from 512 MB to 16 GB) and were inexpensive, but they were not very fast, as they were based on MLC chips and a single-channel controller. And Flash Voyager GT was equipped with a dual-channel controller fast SLC chips. It was limited in capacity (2-8 GB) and was much more expensive than drives from the previous series. In return, it worked much faster.

But everything changes. Those capacities have become insufficient for hardcore users, even common users will soon require higher capacities. Everything was simple with regular Voyagers -- this series now includes 8-64 GB models! But situation with fast flash drives is much more complex -- there are practically no high-capacity single-level chips. So the entire series has shrunk to a single 16 GB model, which is also built with multi-level chips. Performance charts on the website have been modified a little: the company had claimed that Voyager GT was 4-5 times as fast as the regular models, now it's 3-4 times. It would have been better to specify precise read/write rates, but it hasn't been done. Now we'll see what we can expect from a "shard of former glory".

Kingston DataTraveler 101



This model comes from the 'digital' series of flash drives. I surmised at the time that engineers from this company had already exhausted their naming fantasy. We can understand that -- only the current series for consumers includes eleven models, plus lots of discontinued products! According to the serial number, this product 'fits' somewhere in the bottom of the product line: we can assume that it's a regular flash drive of Type 100 or 110 without additional functionality. But it's not as easy as that..

The 101 resembles the 400, which is not a Low-End product at all. The swivel case (55.65 x 17.3 x 9.05 mm) is even smaller than in DataTraveler 400. But this one looks more attractive -- the device is made of semitransparent plastic of cyan, yellow, or pink color. The swivel case is silvery, and labels are implemented in the same color as the main part. So, these products look impressive enough. Besides, different colors may help differentiate flash drives, if you have several of them.



Functionality of this product is also better than that of the 110 or the second flash drive from our today's review, which are designed just to transport files. The 101 comes with the old familiar and useful SecureTraveler. It allows to partition the device into two parts (open and password-protected) and switch between them as you work (they use the same drive letter, so they cannot be accessed both at the same time).

What makes the 101 kin with the basic models is the lack of information about its performance. For example, DataTraveler 400 officially offers 20 MB/s for reading and 10 MB/s for writing. Besides, it complies with Enhanced for Windows ReadyBoost. But we know nothing about performance characteristics of DataTraveler 101, and it does not support ReadyBoost. Well, all the more interesting to see how it performs in practice: our silvery-pink flash drive, 4 GB (this series also includes 2 GB and 8 GB models: flash drives of lower capacity are becoming things of the past, so these three models make over 90% of sales).

Kingston DataTraveler Mini Slim

Unlike the previous model, this flash drive cannot boast of bundled software (simple or sophisticated), so it serves a single purpose -- to transport data. Models in this series have different capacities (three modifications all in all): 2, 4, or 8 GB.



The main attraction of this device is not in functionality, capacity, or performance (no information is published, but an indirect sign that it does not break any records is its lack of support for Vista ReadyBoost), but in what its name tells us -- it's really very small (38.85 x 16.4 mm) and slim (the thickest part in the opposite end from the plug is just 6.44 mm, the rest is 2 mm). So it's another compact memory stick, which even lacks the standard USB connector, because it is too thick for this tiny thing. Instead, like any such models, there are only four contacts right on the thin part of the flash drive. Even though we've seen lots of such drives, they still look very attractive to many users, because size matters. With such dimensions, you can easily carry it somewhere in your wallet instead of your pocket. Just don't treat it as a fetish -- warranty for this flash drive is only two years instead of usual five years for Kingston products.

Another factor that may attract potential users to DataTraveler Mini Slim is the choice of three colors: black, blue, and pink. We tested the blue 4 GB flash drive.


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