Five Flash Drives with USB 2.0 Interface

The continuing reduction of prices for flash storage media makes us once again return to the subject of USB flash drives that are ever more popular among PC users. This time we have tested five models (128MB and 256MB capacities) from four manufacturers and are ready to share with you our opinion.

by Andrey Kuznetcov
09/13/2004 | 01:07 AM

Today we are going to introduce to you five new flash drives with 128MB or 256MB storage capacity.

 

 Please welcome these irreplaceable solutions and learn more about their features and peculiarities in our roundup.

Kingston Technology

Data Traveler USB 2.0 Flash Memory Drive 128MB (KUSBDTI/128)

Drives of that family come in 64, 128, 256 and 512MB capacities and comply with the USB 2.0 specification. The dimensions of the tested model are 72.7x24x10mm. The range of operational temperatures stretches from zero to 60°C; of non-operational – from -65°C to 60°C.

The accessories to the device include a carry strap and a software CD.

The average retail price of the drive is $20.

Luwen Electronics

EasyDisk USB 2.0 Flash Disk 256MB

Luwen Electronics is a sub-division of the Shenzhen, China headquartered Yifang Digital Technologies Co., Ltd. Regrettably, I couldn’t find any information about this flash drive model on their website (it only lists specifications of older USB 1.1 devices). This EasyDisk has a write protection switch and an activity LED-indicator.

Its average retail price is $33.

Pretec

Pretec Electronics Corporation is represented with two small-size products in this review.

i-Disk Tiny Luxury USB 2.0 Flash Disk 256MB

This series comes in 64, 128, 256, 512 and 1GB capacities. The compact size of the device is its distinguishing trait, of course; the dimensions are 40.2x19.3x9.6mm. Its weight of 4.5g and ability to work in a temperature range of 0 to 85°C make it a truly portable device you can always have with you.

  

  

The non-operational temperature range lies from -20 to 120°C. The drive can sustain an operational vibration of 5G and an operational shock of 55G. It features an LCD-indicator of the drive’s status. The USB 2.0 interface is supported; the manufacturer claims up to 8MB/s read speed and up to 7MB/s write speed. The software you receive on a miniature CD allows using the flash drive as a bootable disk or limit the access to the stored data. The accessories to the drive allow wearing it on your neck or key-ring.

The average retail price of the device is $55.

i-Disk Tiny Standard USB 2.0 Flash Disk 256MB

The second product from Pretec we’d like to present in this review resembles the first one in many aspects, although differs externally. The previous model had rounded corners, while this “standard” drive is made deliberately “angular”, “straight-line”.

  

  

The Standard series from Pretec includes models of 64, 128, 256, 512MB and 1GB capacities. The drive is real tiny with dimensions of 40.2x19.3x9.6mm; its weight is 4.5g. The range of operational temperatures is 0-85°C, of non-operational from -20 to +120°C. The drive can keep on working under a vibration of 5G and a shock of 55G. It is equipped with an LCD-indicator of the operational mode. The speed characteristics of the drive as specified by the manufacturer are fully identical to the above-described model: up to 8MB/s read and up to 7MB/s write speeds. The software on the miniature CD is the same as you receive with the aforementioned drive. You can wear the device on your neck or on your key-ring.

The average retail price of this i-Disk is $55.

Transcend

JetFlash 2.0 USB 2.0 256MB (TS256MJF2BF/L)

Transcend’s series of USB flash drives includes models with capacities of 32, 64, 128, 256, 512MB as well as 1, 2 and 4GB. Our sample has a blue plastic case, but there are also other color schemes available.

The manufacturer declares an up to 8MB/s read speed and up to 7MB/s write speed. The dimensions of the drive are 75x22x10mm; its weight is 11g. The drive fully complies with the USB 2.0 specification; it’s got an activity LED-indicator and a write-protection switch. You can also protect your data with a password or use the drive as a bootable disk. The accessories to the device include a carry strap, a software CD, a description and a USB cable.

The average retail price of the drive is $38.

Testbed and Methods

We tested the five flash drives using FC Test version 1.0 and AIDA version 3.95.

The testbed was configured as follows:

We will be comparing the results of the tested devices with those we had tested earlier (see our Storage section for more articles).

Performance in FC Test

We used three patterns with this test utility to check out the read and write speeds of the flash drives. The patterns differed in the average file size (1, 10 or 100MB) and in the number of files (1, 10 and 100). The only exception was the drive from Digitex which had been tested earlier in 240x1MB and 1x240MB patterns.

Considering that the file size and the number of files don’t practically affect the results, we put down these results as read and write speeds of the USB flash drives.

The first pattern consists of a hundred of files, 1MB each. You see that four out of the five tested flash drives (we mark them out among the previously tested devices with yellow in the diagrams) have almost the same results, identical to two earlier-tested models. The drive from Kingston is somewhat slower than this company and occupies the penultimate position in the table. Viewing the results at large, we see that the five tested drives are all far behind the leader in read speed, the Acer HT203 model, as well as behind the products from Digitex and SanDisk.

The two Pretec drives are the fastest among the five, the Transcend JetFlash following them closely. The Luwen EasyDisk goes next, and the Kingston is the slowest, finding itself at the very bottom of the diagram. None of the five reviewed flash drives could challenge the speed of the Apacer HT203. The Digitex Pen Drive is the second best.

This diagram contains the read speeds in the 10x10MB pattern (10 files, 10MB each). Four of the five drives we’re interested in have the same results as two earlier-tested devices. The Kingston Data Traveler is somewhat slower than they. But again, taking the entire picture into view, we should note that the Apacer HT203 remains the record-holder, outperforming every other drive in read speed. The SanDisk Cruzer Mini takes the second place here.

The write speed measurements show that the Pretec i-Disk Tiny Standard is the fastest among the “five”, and its Luxury mate goes next. The Transcend JetFlash and the Luwen EasyDisk follow behind them. The Kingston Data Traveler is the worst of all – it is even slower than the devices we had tested earlier. The overall winner is the same, the Apacer HT203. It is followed by the Canyon Flash Drive and the no-name device.

The last pattern includes one 100MB file. The Apacer HT203 again boasts the highest read speed; the Digitex Pen Drive and the SanDisk Cruzer Mini occupy the second and the third positions. Four out of the five newly-tested devices are behind the podium, having similar read speed results among themselves and compared to two earlier-tested drives. The Kinston Data Traveler is the slowest of the five, taking the last but one position.

Talking about the tested five, the pair of Pretec drives wins the contest of writing one large file. The Transcend JetFlash and the Luwen EasyDisk are slower and have the same results. The Kingston Data Traveler is much worse than the others – it has the lowest write speed in this test among all USB flash drives we have ever tested. Note also that none of the newly-tested drives can shatter the top position of the Apacer HT203, which surpasses any other model. The Digitex Pen Drive is the second best here.

Performance in AIDA32

The special module of the AIDA32 program allows estimating the sequential read and write speeds as well as the access time of the flash drives. The results are presented in the diagrams below.


Click to enlarge

The average read speed is given in the first diagram, and the five tested drives, along with two previously-tested devices, accelerate to nearly the same point. The Apacer HT203 and the Digitex Pen Drive are far ahead of the rest of the drives, though.

Among the five devices we’re now interested in, the Transcend JetFlash is slightly faster than the others. The two drives from Pretec follow it closely with identical results. Next goes the Luwen EasyDisk, while the Kingston Data Traveler is the slowest of all. The Apacer HT203 and the Digitex Pen Drive are again the unrivalled leaders in this test.

The measured access time of the tested five drives is on the same level with the others, save for the SanDisk Cruzer Mini with its abnormally high results.

Conclusion

Let’s go through the five newly-tested drives one by one, in the alphabetical order. The Disk Traveler from Kingston is appropriately priced, but has a slightly lower read speed compared to the other four models, and a downright low write speed. The EasyDisk from Luwen matches the others in the read speed, but loses in the write speed to the remaining three drives. Its price, however, is acceptable and adequate to its speed characteristics. The two i-Disk flash drives from Pretec look preferable in contrast to their rivals in the total of the results, but they cost considerably more, and the price factor often weighs heavier than others in shopping decisions of many users. Note also that among all the presented models, these two are the smallest and can be hung on the key-ring. The last device, the Transcend JetFlash, is almost an equal to the Pretecs in performance and has a slightly higher price than the Luwen EasyDisk.

Taking the price/performance ratio point of view, we think that Luwen’s EasyDisk can be considered the best buy among the five USB 2.0 flash drives we have presented to you today.

Totaling these results with those we got in our earlier reviews, we can state that none of the newly-tested devices could approach the performance of the Apacer HT203, which seems to be firmly established on the top of the performance podium