I’ll confess to a USB flash drive obsession. They’ve become somewhat of a fetish for me, defined by Webster’s as “an object of extreme or irrational reverence or devotion”.
Kinda weird, no? Of all the things… But, at least it’s a harmless obsession — to everyone other than my wallet, that is.
It seems like I’ve always had a need for transporting data, starting with 8″ Shugart floppy disks with a something like a whopping 120KB — that’s kilobytes — capacity back in the ’70’s.
I quickly moved on to 5.25″ floppies, then the cool 3.5″ IBM 720KB plastic-and-sliding-door diskettes that were released with the ill-fated IBM PS/2 (I paid $100.00 even for a box of 10!).
Zip drives didn’t last long and I remember paying something like $4,000.00 for a monstrous 1GB external hard drive for a Sun workstation in the early ’90’s — not very long ago, when you think about it.
I grasped the value of using flash drives back when 16MB was considered state of the art, and now it seems like once a month I’m searching for the next latest and greatest. The industry obliges, of course, with cooler, faster and cheaper drives showing up each week in the Best Buy insert.
But guess what? They’re not just neck candy for me — I actually have a need for the things. I use ’em for transferring files and photos and music and videos around to the 4 different computers I use each day. Modern technology means I’m within arm’s reach of any file I’ll need, right there dangling from my neck.
There with me everywhere I go. Yeah, even in there, too… But remember: Law of the Murphy states that the one file I’m looking for won’t be on the drive.
My UFD’s (e.g., USB Flash Drives) have a short lifespan, and the drawer’s full of relics — drives with built-in encryption and/or compression algorithms; drives with MP3 players, U3 drives that I don’t use and even drives embedded in the guts of SpongeBob, a Swiss Army knife and Bluto.
16MB was a joke; 256MB didn’t stick around very long; 512MB was cool but 1 Gig was cooler and 2 Gigs? Even better. Now 4GB is a must-have, 8 gigs just arrived and what’s next — terabytes in a pencil eraser?
I already had a 4GB UFD, so I wasn’t really looking for another, but a friend showed me an ad for this SanDisk Extreme Ducati Edition 4GB flash drive, with a claimed 20MB/sec read/write speed. Decently fast 4GB drives can be had for around $40.00, so this Ducati version at $124.99 is way too rich.
But hey — it says “Ducati”, right?? And with two Ducs parked in the webBikeWorld garage, it was a done deal. Yeah, I’m a sucker…
But c’mon, admit it: this thing isn’t just pretty cool, it is cool.
And guess what? It also does the job — it’s fast! I grabbed a handful of oldies and ran them through the clock and found that a 344MB folder containing a bunch of mixed files (.txt, .jpg, .exe, .pdf, etc.) can be copied from one of the decently fast 7,200 RPM Maxtor SATA II /300 internal hard disks in the big Dell 8400 tower to the SanDisk Extreme Ducati Version in 23 seconds.
That same folder took almost twice as long — 41 seconds — to transfer to a 512MB USB 007 flash drive; 49 seconds to a 1GB Memorex TravelDrive that I thought was fast and it took an excruciating 4 minutes and 12 seconds to copy the folder to the incredibly tiny, incredibly light, super-coole but super-slow 4GB Sony Micro Vault Tiny (see photos below).
It took an unreal 40 seconds just to delete the folder from the Sony, and virtually no time at all to delete it from the other drives, which now relegates the Micro Vault Tiny to the archives.
The Sony Micro Vault Tiny drives are way cool; the 4GB drive shown below weighs only — get this — 2 grams (1/8 oz.) and it measures 15 mm x 30 mm and it’s 3 mm thick. I mean thin. But it’s a D-O-G.
wBW Lightbox – Click photo to view.
Comparison: 4GB Sony Micro Vault Tiny; very cool because of it’s micro size, but functionally slower than watching pudding set.
OK, but this is about the SanDisk Ducati Extreme, so let’s take a closer look…
This sucker is heavy — the heaviest USB flash drive I’ve ever handled. It weighs 57 grams (2 oz.), which makes it a porker, no doubt about it. The Ducati sort-of fuel tank shape feels almost like metal but isn’t. The drive comes with a thin imprinted neck strap that does nothing to lighten it up. But you know what? The heft makes it feel special.
125 bucks does buy some extra farkle though. Besides the speed, the drive has a retractable USB connector. Slip the slider and the connector pops out the front of the “fuel tank”. It’s cool, but I wish it had a stronger detent that would allow it to click-lock into place when it’s extended.
I’m betting it will eventually lose the ability to stay put and it’ll slide back into the body of the drive when I go to use it as the detent gets worn from pushing the connector into the computer’s USB port. The rear of the drive also includes a red “brake” light that comes on when the drive is plugged in, and it flashes as the drive is being accessed.
The cool Ducati-flavored box, which must account for a chunk of the $125, includes a CD-ROM with “RescuePro Deluxe” software, which can help to recover images, documents, music, or other files accidentally deleted on the drive. Besides the “SanDisk Extreme Ducati Edition” lanyard, the drive carries a lifetime warranty and even a dedicated technical support hotline for U.S. owners.
The drive’s porcine mass means it’s pretty fat at 18 mm (11/16″) at the widest point, and there may be a thin laptop or two with their USB ports oriented so the drive won’t fit if the computer’s laying flat on a table.
So what’s the connection between SanDisk and Ducati? SanDisk signed a two-year sponsorship agreement for the Ducati Corse MotoGP team back in January of 2007, and the SanDisk logo now appears on Casey Stoner’s Desmosedici GP7. In addition to the SanDisk Extreme Ducati Edition, SanDisk also makes an Extreme Ducati Edition SD Plus memory card with a built-in USB port and CompactFlash cards in 4GB and 8GB capacities.
Claudio Domenicali, CEO of Ducati Corse, said about the partnership, “We are extremely pleased to welcome SanDisk as a new partner in our MotoGP Project. Ducati and SanDisk are both dedicated to maximum performance, making the partnership a perfect fit.”
There is a sort of connection, however vague, between fast memory and MotoGP, according to SanDisk. Their marketing materials say that the company plans to work closely with the wider photographic MotoGP community.
Gigi Soldano, a highly respected MotoGP photographer said, “Capturing the many exciting moments of MotoGP racing, where riders can reach 200 miles per hour and can be millimeters above the track on tight turns, requires cameras and memory cards that are the fastest and most reliable in the world. SanDisk Extreme III and IV memory cards make my job easier, because I know I can shoot as rapidly as possible without worrying about losing that once-in-a lifetime image.”
SanDisk and Ducati expect to announce more elements of their agreement in the months ahead.
Heavy, fast and oh so cool. Put it on your birthday or holiday want list.
wBW Review: SanDisk Ducati Extreme USB Flash Drive
From “J.K.”: “Here is a use for all the old, slow USB drives. Put all your emergency contact info/medical info that would be useful in case of an accident and put it on your key-chain or somewhere you might think an emergency service worker would find it.
That way they can pull up information on you even if you are not able to communicate.”