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June 18, 2004

USB Keys

I first started buying USB keys (USB Flash Drives) last year. The first ones I bought were AVB USB 1.1 and 64 Mb, for about $20 . They were nifty, blue plastic, and came with a lanyard that worked as a necklace. Problem is, the caps they had did not have a positive latch, and were prone to getting lost. The later models (as seen here) aren't as bad on the cap problem, and are USB 2.0. Another bummer with them is that with use, the guts came loose from the housing, and the connector started to wobble. While it hasn't affected data retrieval yet, it's not happy making.

Then I tried a fatter type, and bought an Apacer "Handy Steno" at 256 Mb. It seemed sorta clunky, and it didn't want to mount on a Linux box (which is most of what I have). It was twice the physical size of the AVB drives, and worked half as well. So I stuck with AVB.

Then, one day I was looking at SD cards for my camera, and spied these little stick-like things. They were USB, and tiny!

Thus began my love affair with PQI's Intelligent Stick. They were in a separate area from the regular USB keys, but they do fit an ordinary USB slot. Initially, a USB 1.1 128 Mb version cost a bit over $40, which made it damned competitive with the bigger, fatter, ones.

These nifty toys are less than 1.5" long, ~3.4" wide, and ~1/8" thick! The USB 1.1 version of these has only one moving part on the stick itself: the tiny "lock" switch. The USB 2.0 version doesn't have any moving parts.

The I-Stick often comes with an adapter that is simply a normal USB socket that it slots in to. Sometimes they can be found with a wallet credit card type holder that can store two. I've bought several now, and will buy more now that the price on them is dropping ($26 for 128 Mb USB 1.1, $55 for 256 Mb USB 2.0).

I've also really started beating on mine, including patitioning it, formatting it as an ext2 drive repeatedly, and all kinds of linux stuff. I've bought some for my teammates at work, too. I can even use Syslinux to write a bootable partition to an I-Stick, which another brand I got hold of, the SanDisk Cruzer Mini, won't allow (but at least its cap stays on.)

Posted by ljl at June 18, 2004 07:30 PM