With the price of flash memory falling almost as quickly as its capacity is increasing, I thought it was high time I invested in a new flash drive. If you’re in the market yourself for a new USB drive then this review could help you to narrow your choices. I'll be checking out the Cruzer Micro 4GB Flash Drive from Sandisk.
The flash drive model used in this review is available direct from the manufacturer for $39.99, but at the time of writing it's available on Amazon.com for almost half this amount brand new, and if you shop around you should find plenty of places where it is even cheaper than this.
Storage specialist Sandisk, recognized as one of the leading manufacturers and suppliers of a wide range of flash memory-based products and technologies, was founded in 1988 by one of the world's leading experts on non-volatile memory, Dr. Eli Harari. Buying products from such a reputable company is reassuring, but does the drive live up to its producer's reputation?
Let's run through the physical attributes of the drive first. The drive is approximately 8mm high, 20mm wide and 57mm (with the USB connector retracted but still only 68mm with it exposed) long, which is a nice size for a flash drive; there are smaller drives available, and you can expect to pay more for these, but this one feels quite compact. Weighing in at just 10g, it's also incredibly light. It comes with a pre-fitted key ring on it as well so you can attach it to your house keys to ensure that it doesn't get lost. The following screen shot shows the top of the drive with the USB connector retracted:
One of the drive's most prominent features is the slide button used to push out the USB connector socket; it's made of a semi-opaque plastic and as well as allowing you to plug the drive in, it also doubles as a decorative/access light. It'll glow orange and flash when you initially connect the drive and when reading/writing to it, before slowing down to a steady pulse when it is not active. This next image is of the drive with its connector exposed:
The drive is finished in a smooth combination of shiny gloss black on the sides, and a rougher, matte finished black plastic on the top and bottom of the drive. Overall, it looks smart and professional and there'll be no embarrassment pulling this drive out of your pocket. Here's a shot of the back of the drive:
The action of the slide button is smooth and feels good. As you need to depress the button slightly while opening or closing it, the connector is unlikely to come out of its own accord, keeping it safely tucked away until it's required. You need to make sure you're holding it correctly when you insert it, however, to make sure that the connector doesn't get pushed back in accidentally; and while the connector is protected from being snapped off while retracted, there's nothing to prevent dust, pocket lint, or other miscellaneous detritus from getting into it.
This Cruzer Micro drive is available in sizes ranging from 512MB to 16GB; I've based this review on the 4GB version, although there's no reason to believe that any of the other capacities perform any better or worse (accepting of course that a smaller drive will often perform slightly better to a certain degree). The available colors vary between models; the smaller 2GB drives are available in black, white, blue, red or, strangely, purple. Sizes larger than this are available only in black at the present time.
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