Living in a digital world means that your data needs to be easily portable and accessible. File sizes are increasing, and floppy disks are disappearing. Sharing digital photos, music, and videos between home, work, and your friend's house is becoming commonplace. The current device of choice for making files portable is the flash drive. I recently had two opportunities to put a flash drive—the Memorex USB 2.0 Thumb Drive—to some real-world use.

My first test of the ThumbDrive occurred one night at about 11:30 at a Kinkos within driving distance of the office. For a trade show the following day, a colleague and I desperately needed 25 professionally printed and bound copies of a PDF file. We copied the files to the ThumbDrive and drove to Kinkos, where the employee behind the counter was able to place the ThumbDrive in a PC and copy the necessary files without any problems. The ThumbDrive passed the first test with flying colors.

The second test involved two amateurs — me and a friend — setting up a wireless network using only spare parts. One key to successfully installing any piece of hardware is having the correct drivers, which is where the ThumbDrive came into play. We loaded the drivers for each device onto the drive, then used it to install the network. Transfer speeds were fast: The ThumbDrive boasts an 8MBps transfer rate. The second test was a success. More important, I had discovered, firsthand, two real-world reasons to have a flash drive at the ready.

USB Flash Drive

Connected Home Magazine Rating (10 possible)
Design Ease of Use Performance Overall
8 9 8 8


The USB 2.0 ThumbDrive comes packaged with a USB extension cable and a Windows 98 driver disk, and is available in three storage capacities (128MB, 256MB, and 512MB). Best of all, the device has a cool rubber-textured grip and a keychain accessory, making it a truly portable drive.

The ThumbDrive offers compact, lightweight and easy to use medium to transfer large files between computers. Memorex promises 10 years of data retention, which is significantly longer than you will find with a CDR or a DVD-R. Another huge benefit is the cross-platform capabilities, enabling portability between the PC and MAC environments. There is also a write protection switch that provides instant safety for your data, shielding it from accidental changes. Finally, there is a nice little LED light for verifying data access and connections.

My only complaints about the ThumbDrive concern the durability. The snap-on cap and the keychain do not feel sturdy or solid enough to withstand repeated use. Unfortunately, the keychain is attached directly to the cap through a thin, molded half-loop, which also detracts from the overall durability. However, neither of these flaws affect the performance or functionality (not to mention the sleek design) of the drive itself. The ThumbDrive has proven to be reliable and performed well when I needed it most, which is all I could ask for from a flash drive.


Memorex USB 2.0 Flash Drive
Product Information
Minimum System Requirements: PC/Mac with USB port support, Windows XP/ME/2000/98SE, Mac OS 8.6 or later, Linux 2.4.X
Interface: High-speed USB 2.0, compatible with USB 1.1
Power Supply: USB bus-powered (4.5V to 5.5V)
Capacities: 128MB, 256MB, 512MB, 1GB
Illumination: Green: device connected, green flashing: data transferring
Dimensions: 2.7" x 1.22" x 0.39", (69mm x 31mm x 10mm)
Weight: 0.46 oz. (13gms)