I KNOW WHAT you’re thinking: Is Finweek really carrying a review of a USB flash drive? As mundane as ballpoint pens, USB thumb drives have become a staple in office environments. And they aren’t exactly revolutionary. But the Kingston DataTraveler Ultimate G2 uses a new standard in USB technology that, along with a giant capacity, makes it not just any thumb drive.
So while this device may only be as exciting as President Jacob Zuma’s suits, we agreed to check it out simply because we haven’t seen one before. The G2 uses the USB 3 standard, allowing for much, much faster access times than previous revisions. Many new computers ship with the technology – barring Apple Macs, which curiously don’t. Apple has adopted Intel’s new Thunderbolt technology and that could be why it isn’t terribly interested in USB 3. But Lenovo and many other PC manufacturers now support that standard.
When plugged into a USB 3 port, the DataTraveler allows files to be transferred about three times faster than on USB 2 ports in our own tests. That makes a massive difference when copying large files and will be especially useful for creative professionals.
The drive comes in 16GB, 32GB and 64GB sizes. The last-mentioned is especially noteworthy, because it means you could use it as a backup drive while on the road or for other applications that have substantial storage demands. It’s larger than most other USB thumb drives but still small enough to disappear in a pocket. It’s also much, much smaller than a comparative external hard drive.
The drive is backwards compatible with USB 2, so it can be used in older computers, although you obviously lose the speed advantage when doing so. The DataTraveler is one of those things that initially evokes a “so what” feeling, but after carrying it around for a couple of weeks it falls into the same category as your favourite pen. It’s one of the first of many USB 3 drives to come – and those will soon be par for the course and as boring as pencil sharpeners. The first generation is also still too expensive for anyone to reasonably consider.