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Five USB 3.0 Flash Drives For Your Pocket

Setting up today’s portable flash drive comparison was no small task, with previously-announced products vanishing as quickly as we could request them. Expanding the article to include larger pocket-sized drives should have been an easy solution, but our attempt to use 128 GB as the crossover point to include both key- and pocket-sized drives was met by product shortages. Setting aside any comprehensive analysis of size versus performance, we still generated a lot of useful data.

OCZ’s Enyo took the overall performance lead by producing far-better write rates than the read rate-winning PQI S533-E. With a width of a credit card, the Enyo is also a little more portable, though the extra cable required by both the Enyo or the S533-E hinders portability.

Taking size down another notch is Super Talent’s third-place performing SuperCrypt USB 3.0. Available at capacities up to 256 GB, we have a hard time imaging anyone choosing a drive this big for a relatively-tiny 32 GB capacity. Plugging directly into a system’s ports, the question of whether or not it will require the cables of surrounding connectors to be removed is left to system owners to figure out, and that’s a question Super Talent could have answered by including a short extension cable. It’s still the only drive in today’s comparison to include hardware encryption, and this Pro version provides it at 256-bit AES. Thus, the SuperCrypt Pro USB 3.0 might be useful for anyone who needs to match good portability with excellent security.

Walton Chaintech’s Apogee Astro A101 took third place in overall performance after a few surprising wins, coming in at a size that we wish the hardware of its larger competitors matched. Chaintech also seems to understand that this business card-sized drive is far too wide to be placed on a port panel and fortunately includes a data cable for installing it away from a PC’s other connections. Yet, while this drive is easier to carry around than most of its competitors, it can no longer claim to be the world’s smallest USB 3.0 storage device.

The smallest drive of today’s comparison was a modest performer, with about two-thirds of the read performance of the larger units. However, Super Talent’s USB 3.0 Express Drive still significantly outpaces the limits of USB 2.0 and some users might even find it to be an acceptable replacement for their older keychain drives. Though the possibility of impinging on connectors to each side of the drive might be the biggest issue for most users, the imaginary Daniel Zavitz character mentioned in our introduction would probably never make it out of the apartment if he had to wait for his file to write at a lowly 39.5 MB/s.

Who wins? We’d probably select OCZ’s combination of performance and slim portability, though it’s still too large to replace our keychain drives. Until we do find a key-sized drive with a viable size and performance level, it looks like we might be pocketing the 128 GB Enyo, while finding a second pocket for its cable.

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