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Kingston DataTraveler 2.0 Hi-Speed: We have a look at a big stick of Kingston's USB 2.0 flash drive.
Date: July 26, 2004
Manufacturer:
Written By:
Price:
 

Flash drives are something that once you've used one, it's tough to imagine life without it. Extremely portable, they can contain a fair amount of data depending on the size of the drive you've purchased. Since they are USB based, they'll work in almost any PC with a USB connection, depending on the OS installed, and in most cases, no drivers are required.

Although not much separates one flash drive from another, other than the brand name and warranty, there are a few areas which actually will influence a buyer's decision. First off, there is the capacity of the drive. Let's be honest... a 16MB flash drive is pretty useless for the majority of us, unless ALL you're planning to save are Word documents. Next up is the USB standard, specifically USB 2.0. As we've seen, USB 1.1 drives are simply too pokey to be of any use, unless it's a low capacity drive. Finally, there's the cost. USB drives aren't terribly expensive, but as we move up in capacity, the price moves up as well.

The Kingston DataTraveler 2.0 Hi-Speed we'll be looking at today meets addresses two of the criteria we defined a moment ago, capacity and USB 2.0. We'll discuss the cost question at the end of the review. Before continuing, here are the .

Specifications
Convenient - pocket-sized for easy transportability
Simple - just plug-and-play with embedded support for Hi-speed USB technology
Fast - uses the USB 2.0 Interface
Compatible - Crosses platforms with Windows® 98 , Me, 2000 and XP; Macintosh OS 9.x, 10.x
Safeguarded - built-in password protection and TravelerSafe security software
Shielded - protective plug-in cap
Flexible - boot capable
Guaranteed - five-year warranty
Drivers required (included on CD) for Windows 98 users.
On supported system platforms.

You can also download their for more information.

The Kingston DataTraveler 2.0 Hi-Speed ships in a fairly large box, about the size of a VHS tape, with all the contents residing in their own individually recessed foam compartments to protect it during shipping. Other than the DataTraveler, you'll find a driver CD for Windows 98 users, a short USB cable, a neck strap and a small guide in using the device.

The Kingston DataTraveler 2.0 is an attractive drive, with a nice brushed aluminum coloured shell. It's still made of plastic, so don't go running it over with a 4x4. Once the cap is removed, the drive capacity and Kingston logo are predominantly displaced on the translucent interior. There is an activity LED under the translucent shell, which has a nice blooming effect when the drive is in use.

The drive itself is fairly large when compared to other flash drives. It's still compact, measuring about 95mm long with the cap on, and about 85mm without. It still shouldn't have any problems fitting in your pockets, though if that were the case, you can always use the included wrist strap. One issue I do have is the pocket clip (which is also where you can loop the wrist strap) is located on the cap of the drive, rather on the drive itself. Although th ecap is fairly secure, there is a chance you can lose the entire drive if it comes loose. Kingston should consider putting the strap loop on the drive itself in future revisions.

OS support covers Windows 98/ME/2K/XP, MacOS 9.x and above. There is no mention of Linux support, but I would imagine that if the distro has USB support, you should be able to use the drive. There is a driver disk included for Windows 98, though for the other operating systems, support is built in, so long as you have the proper USB drivers installed (which is motherboard dependent). To get the most out of the drive, it is preferable you have a motherboard capable of USB 2.0 support. The DataTraveler is also boot capable (motherboard dependent), which is great if you've ditched your floppy long ago and occasionally need root access to your PC.

As mentioned earlier, the drive is fairly large. It is tapered near the USB connection, but if you have a rat's nest of cables and devices hording space around the USB connection, you can use the USB extention cable to fit it into the area. The cable isn't very long though, not much longer than the drive itself, so if your PC is located under your desk, it won't be able to extend far enough where you can simply keep the DataTraveler on your desktop.

For security, there is no write protection switch built into the drive. However, you can encrypt your data via Kingston's TravelerSafe software which is included on the drive.

There is no installation required as the software is totally self-contained. Simply enter in a password, confirm it, and setup how much of the DataTraveler you would like to reserve as a Privacy Zone. This will reformat the drive, and partition it. Later, when you want to access this zone, you'll need to enter a password. You got five tries, and if you don't succeed, you'll be kicked out. In theory, this sounds great, but the workaround is to remove the drive and re-insert it for another five attempts. Since there's no write protection, nothing will stop a malicious user (or a clueless sibling) from reformatting it with the Operating System's disk tools.

Test Setup

MSI K8T Neo-FIS2R: Athlon 64 3200+ (10x200: 2GHz), 2 x 512MB Kingston HyperX PC4000, AIW Radeon 9600 XT, 120GB Seagate SATA, Windows XP SP1, VIA Hyperion 4in1 drivers 4.51, ATI Catalyst 4.6

We'll be using real-world benchmarks, copying a variety of media files (PDF, JPEG and AVI files) from our test rig to the Kingston DataTraveler 2.0 and back. The uncompressed files weigh in at 954MB (17 files) and will be used for our small file tests. We'll be copying the same contents, compressed at 921MB (one file) for our large file tests.

We'll be testing both read and write performance where read tests will be the time needed to copy the contents from the DataTraveler 2.0 to our SATA Seagate drive which is connected to a SATA interface on the K8T Neo. Write tests will be the time needed to copy the contents from the SATA to the Elite Pro.

To compare performance, we'll be testing the DataTraveler 2.0 directly against a Transcend 1GB Jetflash 2.0.

Small Files

Read (Time in Minutes, Seconds)
Write (Time in Minutes, Seconds)
DataTraveler 2.0
1:46
2:15
Jetflash 2.0
1:46
2:13

Large File

Read (Time in Minutes, Seconds)
Write (Time in Minutes, Seconds)
DataTraveler 2.0
1:39
2:12
Jetflash 2.0
1:40
2:13

Both drives perform within seconds of one another. It's pretty much a draw, as neither drive has a distinct edge over the other. Based on our numbers, the DataTraveler 2.0's performance is about 9MB/sec and 7.07MB/sec read/write for our small files test, and 9.3MB/sec and 6.98MB/sec in our large file test.

Final Words

Compared against other USB 2.0 Flash drives, the DataTraveler holds it's own very well. As usual with Kingston, the drive has a quality feel to it, and is backed by their five year warranty.

There are a few shortcomings with the device though. One area they need to change is to put the wrist strap loop on the drive itself, rather than on the cap. As it stands now, one bad bounce and all you'll be left with is a $0.25 wrist strap and a $0.50 USB cap. The TravelerSafe isn't perfect either, allowing unlimited attempts for unscrupolous users with enough patience, but some security is always better than none. We would also like to see a longer USB extention cable as well.

of similar sized USB 2.0 drives. Certainly, if you have a preference to another manufacturer, this will be the most important factor. You do get the dependable Kingston name, and their warranty, and the drive is well put together save for the wrist strap issue.

The drive's performance is good, as we've already mentioned, and the DataTraveler was very reliable throughout testing. I did not abuse it needlessly, but it does go through the usual wear and tear such as being sat on, dropped off my desk a few times, and bouncing around in my IT toolbox. Each time we've put the drive to use, the data that I needed was right there waiting.

Pros: Very fast, large capacity, Kingston warranty.

Cons: TravelerSafe isn't the best way to secure data, wrist strap loop should be on chassis.

Bottom Line: We use a fair number of Kingston products around the labs, and compared with some other memory products, they've been a brand we've always counted on. Add the good warranty and the fair price, this is a product we can certainly recommend.

Questions and Comments can be voiced in our forums.

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