Seitec 32MB USB BAR Memory Stick
Date: March 2004
Price: £17.61 @ time of writing
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USB drives are now really taking over and becoming a must have tool for transferring data between the office and home or for just backing up smaller files. Even smaller programs nowadays weigh in at a couple of MB, this size is too large for now less used floppy disc and if your on dialup can be too large to send by email.
Zip drives like cd writers are an option but they can take time to either connect or to run the program to select the files you want and then to burn or write them to disc. Also is it really worth wasting a CDR, or trying to find a CDRW, then check it is formatted then use it? No, USB flash devices can fill the gap easily by being simple to connect and available in many capacities, if you haven't got one, GET one or several!
They come in all manner of shapes and sizes but all comprise of the same essential internal components namely a flash disk with a USB connector attached.
What makes a product over another appeal is likely to be the visual look of the device and any additional extras you might get such as extension leads or software to secure the device
What you get:
The packaging was eye catching and well designed, the unit is enclosed within a plastic shell, at the bottom of this shell are the leads for connecting the device and also a mini 8cm CDR. Its a small point but worth noting the case simply clipped/unclipped I really do prefer these packages instead of the many heat sealed examples on the market. Also\this packaging is more eye catching and lets you see the components rather than using a simple cardboard box.
My first thought when I saw this USB Key was that it looked very similar to the Pen drive [click here] although the unit is smaller than the Pen drives casing.
On the front of the unit you have a blue Seitec logo inlayed into the unit, which also covers an amber LED which when connected to a system shows you if the drive is in use etc. To the right of that you have a small hole which is designed to be used with the provided neck strap or could be used to fit onto a key ring.
On one side of the unit there is a small switch, which is used to enable a write protection feature. This is a problem in my opinion as the switch is so thin and hard to get to as the edge of it was not protruding at all, the only way I could move the switch was to use a pin, and even with that it wasn't immediately achieved.
On the other side there is another sticker, which depicts a serial number, and then on the reverse is a small sticker stating the drives capacity (32MB) and a small raised block, which reduces the amount of movement when placed onto a flat surface.
At the end of the drive is the USB connector this is of standard length. The benefit of this drive is that the casing is not too bulky which on some drives restricts the amount of movement to allow the drive to be connected to a system easily. Some drives to attempt to bypass this have made the USB connector end longer and more exposed this drive does not require this and by doing so keeps the unit very compact.
As with other USB devices you can connect this in seconds to Windows 2000/XP machines the device drivers are only needed for Windows 98/ME. Once connected and the system has detected it you are greeted with an icon direct to the drive via your desktop or My Computer.
When the drive is connected you will see a small amber LED begin to blink on the end of the drive.
Disconnecting the drive:
As you will notice in the system tray an add/remove icon appears which if you double click allows you to select the device to stop, as doing so stops the communication to the drive and prevents data from being lost. I personally have really liked doing that method I often connect my drive drag and drop what is needed and then simply disconnect the drive.
When doing this after copying files to it I had never lost the files, but with this drive I found that I did need to stop the device first or else the newly copied files would not display when the drive was reconnected. I am not sure if this was just me, as I tried it numerous times leaving various amounts of time before disconnecting it, each time resulted in the files being lost or being corrupt.
I used this drive instead of my usual drive for over a week to see if I noticed any differences. Firstly I found that I didn't like the drives lid having a clip mainly as if I was to wear this on a shirt or jacket and the drive become disconnected from its lid then this would most likely result in either the lid or the unit itself being lost. Its for this reason I often leave the lid or do not use it at all, instead I usually connect it to a bunch of keys or place it in a pocket or bag.
Using the drive for every day uses mainly copying any documents I had worked on during the day to it, so that they could be viewed back at home or to just ensure that the hours of work has been saved to an additional place in the event of a PC problem at work. For copying files I did notice a slight speed improvement over my other drive.
You don't need to use the supplied software if you would rather not simply connect the drive wait a few seconds and then the drive will appear under My Computer, you can then drag and drop files to the drive.
Using the software:
The supplied mini CDR is basic in my opinion the flash menu is quite good, but the links to the manual is not great. The manual is a html page which has been roughly translated from Chinese there are many characters not recognised and the diagrams although are some what basic I still think as these drives are so easy to use people unsure wont need to look at the manual.
The main piece of software that the CD contained was called U-Storage, this is used with other drives as well and I myself have looked at this software on many occasions.
A minor hiccup was once the drive was connected and the software install had been run I was greeted with a 'Please remove and reconnect the device if using Win 98/ME' which was fine however I was using XP so I clicked on finish and then noticed in my system tray a new icon had appeared which if I hovered over it said that the device was not ready... I had to remove and reconnect the device before the system tray icon was enabled.
This isnt a big thing but I would of preferred better / clearer instructions.
Then I had the padlock looking icon in my system tray, this is a shortcut to the U Storage software.
The software is very striaght forward and simple to use, it allows you to divde the capcity into public and secure sections. The secure sections can be protected with a password function to help ensure security of your data.
Using the latest version of the benchmark program I ran the two tests on the drive. These same tests have been tested on the other drives we have looked at if you are keen to compare them then they are displayed at the bottom of the individual reviews.
This drive is fairly small and compact the software is basic but striaght forward and you get a good performing product at a very competitive price of only £17!