Kingston is no stranger when it comes to storage products, so it was only a matter of time before the company jumped on the SSD (Solid State Drive) bandwagon. The company’s SSDNow V Series Kit is an upgrade bundle specifically targeting mass-market consumers as well as small and medium-size businesses. The kit comes in two different configurations – one for laptops (SNV125-S2BN, reviewed here) and the other for desktops (SNV125-S2BD). Both are the first in Kingston’s new series of low-cost, value-driven SSD solutions.

Kingston is pitching the bundles (choice of 64GB or 128GB) at cost-conscious consumers wanting an instant performance increase on an existing computer at a reasonable price point. The company is trying to garner mass-market adoption of SSDs by bundling together all of the software, hardware and step-by-step instructions in a couple of ‘cheapish’ options aimed squarely at everyday users.

SSD technology delivers the benefits of flash technology in a completely different way. More reliable, faster, and more durable than traditional magnetic hard drives most of us have in our computers, SSDs are the ideal solution for mobile users – those who want longer battery life and can’t afford to lose or corrupt the data stored on their laptops. Likewise, SSDs are a great alternative for the PC enthusiast who is always looking for the very best in system performance.

Put simply, SSDs are flash-based drives that offer greater reliability and faster performance than traditional magnetic hard drives. SSDs are data storage devices that utilise non-volatile (do not lose data when power is removed unexpectedly) flash memory for computing applications that traditionally rely upon a mechanical hard disk drive. Consisting of just NAND, a controller, connectors, and a PCB, the SSD has no moving parts, creating greater stability by eliminating the mechanical delays and failures associated with a conventional magnetic hard disk drive.

The continuous motion generated by multiple moving parts creates heat, which is a leading factor in hard drive failure. In fact, hard drives are one of a laptop’s components most likely to fail. Because an SSD does not have moving parts, heat dissipation and noise are reduced or eliminated, resulting in a very rugged and reliable offering compared to a mechanical hard drive. SSDs also have extreme shock and vibration tolerance, and their operating temperature ranges meet or exceed that of standard hard drives. With no moving parts, SSDs require less power, improving battery operating time in laptop PCs and portable electronic devices.

Kingston’s 64GB (£105/$132) and 128GB (£185/$226) laptop kits both come in the widespread 2.5-inch form factor. They also use a SATA 3Gbps interface. Moreover, the sustained read and write speeds of the drives go up to 100MB/s and 80MB/s, respectively. By comparison, Western Digital’s smouldering VelociRaptor (150/300GB, 10000rpm, SATA-II, 16MB cache) has sustained read and write speeds up to 120MB/s, meaning an SSD isn’t always the fastest option for speed junkies.

In addition to the 2.5-inch solid-state drive, Kingston adds a 2.5-inch USB-based (cable supplied) SATA caddy in case you want your old hard drive to continue working inside your laptop and use the new SSD as external storage. Also included is easy-to-use hard disk drive cloning software courtesy of Acronis’ Windows-only True Image and a CD-based installation guide.

Kingston’s SSDNow V Series kits, available in 128GB and 64GB capacities, offer almost instant performance gains and power consumption reductions on existing desktops and laptops – but at a price. The price of SSDs are tumbling, but IDE and SATA storage is still by far the better price/performance option. For instance, a Western Digital Scorpio Blue (320GB, IDE, 5400rpm, 8MB cache) laptop drive can be purchased for as little as £62.40/$86.99 and a Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 (1.5TB, SATA-II, 7200rpm, 32MB cache) desktop drive comes in at just under £95/$119. Besides Kingston’s best efforts, value isn’t the strongest selling point of the SSDNow V Series Kit.

However, due to the absense of moving mechanical parts that cause latency issues, the kit is ideal for laptops because SSDs are not impeded by spin-up, seek time, or rotational latency. This equates to faster boot times, faster application loading, and greater overall system responsiveness. And with no spinning parts, the SSDNow V Series Kit’s SSD also runs nice and quiet – similar to that of a standard USB flash drive rather than the constant, noisy humming of a mechanical hard drive.

Where hard drives dissipate high levels of failure-inducing heat due to the parts necessary to operate the hard drive (such as the spinning platter), the SSDNow V Series Kit produces little-to-no measurable heat because it has no moving parts, thus helping keep your laptop operating cooler. If you are looking for a good value SSD to help increase the mobility and robustness of your laptop, Kingston’s SSDNow V Series Kit is a good choice. Performance junkies will get better performance from the likes of Corsair and OCZ, which offer faster random read and write speeds along with faster average and maximum latencies.