USB flash drives are fantastic for storing and transporting data. Not only can you always carry your important documents, Internet bookmarks, favourite music and low-footprint applications, but USB flash drives are also excellent carriers of anti-virus software, as well as configuration information and utilities for system maintenance, troubleshooting and recovery. USB flash drives can even launch an operating system. Kingston is at the top of its game when it comes to flash drives, offering all types of devices that specialise in speed, capacity and security. The U.S.-based company’s latest offering is the market’s highest capacity drive yet, offering a staggering 128GB of data storage.
Kingston’s DataTraveler 200 (DT200) is actually the world’s first 128GB USB flash drive – that’s enough storage for around 182 music CDs (remember those?) or up to 27 DVD movies. Do not worry if you don’t need the large capacity (or price) as the wholly-black DT200 128GB (from £293/$376) also comes in a blue-and-black 32GB model (from £58.58/$80.99) and yellow-and-black 64GB model (from £103/$143) capacities. The price premium is definitely on the 128GB unit.
It should be pointed out the 128GB model, unlike the 32GB and 64GB versions, is build to order only, so you’ll have to wait a lot longer after checkout before the drive is actually shipped to you. Kingston is a little vague on delivery times at the moment. Each model offers Windows-based password protection to help safeguard data (allows you to create and access a password-protected secure area of the drive called a Privacy Zone) and requires no admin rights. There are neither special features nor auto-backup software included in the bundle – just a simple drive with a huge capacity.
The DT200 (70×13×23mm) is a lovely looking flash drive, thanks largely to its capless design and rubberised finish. The capless design not only makes the drive more convenient because you don’t have to worry about losing a part, but it makes using the DT200 a snap to use – to plug the drive into your computer you simply slide back the cap to reveal the USB port. Unfortunately there is no write-protect mechanism. The downside is that the cap is a little loose and makes a rattling noise when shaken, plus it doesn’t actually cover the end of the USB port. The relatively thin plastic case feels vulnerable too, and I’m not sure how much abuse the drive could withstand on a daily basis. It certainly feels like it would split right open if stood upon, which isn’t great news for frequent travellers.
No matter how resistant USB flash drives are compared with mechanical drives, they can still be damaged or corrupted by serious physical abuse. The circuitry of a flash drive can even be harmed by improper wiring of a USB port. And while USBs flash drives are appreciated for compact size, at the same time they can be easily left behind. This brings us to the biggest issue of the DT200. While most of us will love having 128GB of highly portable storage at hand, that’s a heck of a lot of data waiting to get lost or stolen. Individuals and small-business users should question whether carrying around so much data is wise, especially considering there is no backup software provided.
In spite of the security issues, the DT200 is a very good drive that could be put to a wide range of uses. It’s not the fastest or most individually styled but it’s practical and functional. Having said that, I’d have liked some auto-backup software included in the bundle. The biggest drawback is price, which is shockingly expensive considering you can buy an external 500GB hard drive (2.5-inch) for under £100. Still, this is far pocket-friendlier and is backed by a 5-year warranty and 24/7 tech support.