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Transcend JetFlash 2A 256MB: We take a look at a fairly stylish and compact flash drive loaded with 256MB of memory.
Date: November 29, 2004
Manufacturer:
Written By:
Price:

We've mentioned time and time again that 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.

While our 1GB flash drive has served me well, it is larger physically than smaller capacity drives we have laying around. Problem with these smaller drives we have here is they are all USB 1.1, and as we've seen here at VL, they are quite pokey for small file transfers, and annoyingly slow when copying more than 200MB of data. Also, with all these flash drives we've looked at, none of them have been suitable replacements for the standard floppy drive when we're looking to boot our PCs with them for BIOS flashes. Sure, we can just make a bootable CDROM and add the BIOS updates there, but a flash drive that can do this would make our lives so much easier.

The Transcend JetFlash 2A we'll be looking at today is not only compact, but boasts the ability to act as a bootable drive as well. Before continuing, here are the .

Specifications
Size 75mm x 25mm x 11mm (L x W x H, Mini Size)
88mm x 33mm x 15mm (L x W x H)
Weight 15g (Mini Size) or 24g
Data Retention Up to 10 years
Shock Resistance 1,000 G (Max.)
Durability 1,000,000 times
Speed Read 9.0 MByte/s, Write 8.0 MByte/s (Max.)
Certificate CE, FCC, BSMI

The Transcend JetFlash 2A arrived in in a fairly large box, which contained the JetFlash itself in a hard plastic case. This case required scissors on our part to open, and gave me a nice cut trying to get open.

Other than the JetFlash, you'll find a driver CD for Windows 98 users, which also contains their software, a lanyard (wrist strap) and a small guide for using the device. If you have a rat's nest of cables and devices hoarding space around the USB connection, you can use the USB extension cable to fit it into the area. The cable isn't very long though, so if your PC is located under your desk, it won't be able to extend far enough where you can simply keep the JetFlash 2A on your desktop.

The Transcend JetFlash 2A is an attractive drive, with a nice brushed aluminum coloured shell. It feels quite sturdy, though keep in mind that It's still made of plastic, so don't go running it over with a 4x4. The drive capacity and product logo are predominantly displaced on the one side of the translucent band, while on the other side displays the device's USB speed.

Of the five flash drives we have here, the JetFlash is the smallest one physically. This is great for travel, and should fit pretty much anywhere. Spys needing to smuggle it into other countries can feel at ease that it can probably fit in places a CD cannot... ouch. If you prefer to wear it like a necklace or bracelet, you can string the lanyard through the base of the device and carry it around. Kudos to Transcend for placing the lanyard loop on the body, as if the cap pops off, you only lose the cover rather than the drive had the lanyard loop been on the cap.

For security, there is a write protection switch built into the drive. This is handy if you're negligent and tend to delete stuff without thinking about it, but in terms of security, it doesn't do much for it as it can easily be turned off with a flip of a switch.

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 mFormat 2.02A tool is a handy software package that allows you to format the drive as well as configuring it as a boot device. Initially, we had a lot of problems with the latter, but v2.02A solved the problems.

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 4.53, ATI Catalyst 4.9

We'll be using real-world benchmarks, copying a variety of media files (PDF, JPEG and AVI files) from our test rig to the Transcend JetFlash 2A and back. The uncompressed files weigh in at 242MB (56 files) and will be used for our small file tests. We'll be copying the same contents, compressed at 227MB (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 JetFlash 2A 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 JetFlash 2A.

To compare performance, we'll be testing the JetFlash 2A directly against a Mushkin Flashkin USB 2.0.

Small Files

Read (Time in Minutes, Seconds)
Write (Time in Minutes, Seconds)
JetFlash 2A
0:47
0:59
Flashkin 2.0
0:51
1:02

Large File

Read (Time in Minutes, Seconds)
Write (Time in Minutes, Seconds)
JetFlash 2A
0:45
0:53
Flashkin 2.0
0:47
0:53

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 JetFlash 2A's performance is about 5.1MB/sec and 4.1MB/sec read/write for our small files test, and 5MB/sec and 4.2MB/sec in our large file test.

Final Words

Compared against other USB 2.0 Flash drives, the JetFlash 2A holds it's own very well. The speed was not quite up to Transcend's specifications, but those numbers are theoretical maximums. Compared to the Mushkin, the Transcend drive has a slight edge.

Build quality is quite good, and the placing of the lanyard loop on the drive's body was a wise move. We did not test the JetFlash's durability extensively, except for dropping it a couple times off my desk, and one run through the washing machine's wash cycle. In those cases, the JetFlash 2A worked just fine, though be sure to let the drive air dry if you accidentally threw it in the wash. I don't think it will survive a dryer cycle, especially if it's set to wrinkle free which is especially warm.

, the pricing falls right in line with other similar capacity flash drives. Other than the rather small capacity (there are larger drives available), there are no flaws I can see that I've found on past drivers we've reviewed. If you've yet to try a flash drive out, you're really missing out on how convenient these things really are.

Pros: Very fast, compact, durable and bootable.

Cons: Some initial problems setting up the drive as bootable.

Bottom Line: While we had a small hiccup with the mFormat software, the JetFlash 2A is as good as any if you're in the market for a flash drive. While 256MB is a bit small for most of our readers, larger capacities are available.

Questions and Comments can be voiced in our forums.

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