The selection of portable USB memory devices is huge, and it is getting increasingly difficult to select one model over another. However, there are several key factors that you should consider when buying a Flash storage device or similar product :
- Capacity : usually 512 MB to 8 GB ; we strongly recommend against buying products smaller than 512 MB
- Performance : up to 30 MB/s can be achieved by Flash devices over USB ; 1" hard drive-based storage provides slower transfer rates and longer access times
- Hardware Features : Is the product robust ? Can the connector cap get lost ? Does it have a lanyard hole ? Is the finish nice ?
- Software Feature : Does it have built-in encryption ? Does it support U3 for portable applications ? Does it feature a data synchronization solution ?
- Support : What is the warranty like ?
So which stick currently is the best ? All drives do the job of storing data. If you use your memory product on a regular basis, you will quickly realize that capacity is invaluable. In addition, prices for 1 GB and 2 GB products are at very acceptable levels now. Watch for high-performance models if you intend to move large amounts of data - this will save you a lot of time. Dual-channel SLC Flash is the best performing technology, and the higher the speed rating, the better (e.g. 150X).
As long as performance is acceptable, there are no Flash drive products that we’d recommend against, but there are some models that we liked more than others. Sandisk’s Cruzer was particularly attractive, as it offers nice performance, great design and finish, and a bunch of software features that exceed most users’ expectations. PQI’s Card Drive follows a totally new layout, so the product can fit into your wallet. OCZ’s Mini Kart is the smallest memory product we’ve seen so far, but it is not fast. Kingston and Transcend also offer more features than most others. The rugged sticks from ATP, Corsair and Supertalent are a good choice if you want to carry them anywhere - for example, if you are in the army and want to carry your digital data with you even when you’re in the field.