USB flash drives are ubiquitous these days and capacities have gone through the roof, with 16, 32 and even 64GB drives hitting the shelves.
The downside of these large drives however is their transfer speeds. Even the best USB 2.0-based flash drives will take around two and a half minutes to transfer a single-sided DVD worth of data to or from your PC.
That might not sound like much, but given that a 64GB drive can carry roughly 13 DVDs worth of data, large file transfers can start warranting tea breaks or even a quick nap while you wait.
The solution to this is here in the form of USB 3.0 flash drives, such as the 32GB Kingston Data Traveller Ultimate 3.0 we received for testing. This drive breaks through the 30MBytes speed barrier of USB 2.0 by combining a USB 3.0 interface with multiple NAND flash chips behind a similar controller to what you would find in a desktop SSD, all in a portable thumb-sized package.
The results speak for themselves – in testing I found that I could read files off the drive at more than 100MBytes, and write to it at more than 70MBytes, precisely in line with what is advertised on the packaging. This is through a USB 3.0 connection on my Asus P6X58D Premium motherboard – whereas plugging the drive into a USB 2.0 connection, read and write speeds were both capped at around 30MBytes.
At $125 for the 32GB version I tested, it is roughly twice the price of a decent 32GB USB 2.0 flash drive. It is also about twice the thickness of a standard flash drive, but at over double the write speed and triple the read speed, I can still see it being an attractive option for many people. Kingston DataTraveler is distributed by Simms International, Ingram Micro, and Synnex.