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You Can Take It With You

Plug it in, plug it in ? 256MB of on-the-go storage for $100 By Charlie White
Verbatim Store 'n' Go keyring flash drive 256MBSometimes its the little things that can make all the difference. Verbatims Store ?n Go USB 2.0 drive might qualify as such, because it can store a tremendous amount of data on a thumb-sized trinket that you can use as a keyring. We tested the 256MB model ($100 street) and found it to be a handy little device.

When these tiny drives first became available, I didnt really pay much attention to them, because their capacities were so small and price so high that they werent practical. But when they arrived into the sub-$100 range and were able to hold 256MB (and up to a gig for more money) in their non-volatile flash memory, my interest was piqued. I think back to the time around 1992, when a 256MB hard disk on a workstation would have been considered gigantic, and that makes the Store ?n Go even more remarkable.

Now that were truly in the plug-and-play era (as opposed to the ?plug-and-pray era where the whole process was iffy at best), the USB peripherals are so easy to use, you dont have to give them a second thought. Plug one of these keyring drives into a USB port, either USB 1.1 or the much-faster USB 2.0, and then it appears as just another drive on your Mac or PC. Or, even use it on a Linux-running machine. With the Mac and PC, theres no software to install, nothing else to do but transfer your data. And heres where another recent innovation really pays off USB 2.0 allows this drive to transfer data at a rate thats as fast as many hard disks. Verbatim says you can transfer 256MB of data out of it in only 30 seconds, and thats the truth. Even though we noticed you can only fit 249MB onto the 256MB unit because of system overhead, the transfers were quick. We tested a USB 2.0 data transfer with the 256MB unit, and it took only 29.2 seconds to move 249MB from the disk onto a notebook hard disk. Thats an impressive 8.5MB per second (MB/sec.) read speed. Writing to the tiny disk from the PC was a bit slower, where it took 47.8 seconds to fill up the diminutive disk. But thats still fast, equal to a 5.2MB/sec. write speed. Think about it: Thats fast enough to capture DV footage.

That brings us to the value of this drive for content creators. Before, when capacities on these keyring drives was small, you could use them to store your user settings for your favorite nonlinear editing system, maybe a few phone numbers, perhaps a boilerplate graphic or two. Now, theres space aplenty for an entire set of graphics for a TV production, or, for another example, you could store about 75 seconds of DV footage on this 256MB disk. If you spring for Verbatims 1GB Store ?n Go drive, you could fit a full 5 minutes worth of DV on the thing. Imagine editing an entire 1:30 news story on your notebook in the van on the way back to the station, and then transferring the whole thing, timeline and all or even a finished .avi clip onto the keyring flash drive. Then you could quickly plug that into a server at your home base. Granted, the 1GB is a lot more expensive, at around $350, but imagine what you could do with it.

I found myself using the drive as a ?sneakernet device. For instance, my computer wasnt connected to a friends network at his workplace, so instead of dealing with the military-grade security at that company, I just inserted the Store ?n Go into the USB 2.0 port on the front of his computer, grabbed the graphics I needed, and then unplugged the drive, data inside and no worse for the wear. The whole process took less than a minute. Its easy -- so much so that even elementary schools are getting into the act with these drives, where in schoolyards you can see the geekier kids wearing their drives like necklaces using the included lanyard. They call them ?jump drives at my daughters school, and theyve taken the place of anachronistic floppy disks. And, for the serious or secretive businesspeople who use it, the unit includes software that secures your data, as well as lets you partition part of the disk as private, where if you lose the little thing, your data is secure.

What else can I say about this excellent accessory? Well, I think it looks great, too. Its candy apple red color is translucent like an iMac, and has a little blinking light inside to tell you its busy at work. I like it so much I think everybody should have at least one. Highly recommended.

Charlie White, your humble storytellerDigital Media Net Executive Producer Charlie White has been writing about new media and digital video since it was the laughingstock of the television industry. A technology journalist and columnist since 1994, White is also an Emmy-winning producer, video editor, broadcast industry consultant and shot-calling television director who has worked in broadcasting since 1974. Talk back -- Send Chazz a note at

Read Charlie White's editorials by clicking here.

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Related Keywords:Verbatim?s Store ?n? Go USB 2.0 drive, data, thumb-sized trinket, keyring, 256MB model , handy little device, review, Charlie White


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