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flashy AND ingenious

Those who know me or have worked with me in some capacity probably know I am quite an aficionado of flash drives (or keydrives or USB drives or USB keys or whatever permutation of name you prefer). At last count, I think I have 11 of varying capacities, most unique in design and manufacturer as well. With this so-called addiction, however, comes a growing appreciation (or disgust, as the case may be) for the wide swath of flash drive encasement designs available -- and not just the decals or coloration thereof, but the overall unit design.

With that in mind, I ran across this PNY All-Terrain drive that seems to have bridged the divide between good architecture and the all-too-common design mishap of "What to do with the drive cap?" With this particular PNY unit, you remove the cap from the USB plug end and attach it to the keychain nub which is fastened to the other side. That way you don't lose your drive's cap in the absentmindedness of yanking the drive out of the port and running to another meeting or to catch the bus or whatever appointment you're already late for (grammar class, perhaps?).

Ideally, the cap should be an unremovable part of the entire unit, as with the Lexar JumpDrive Expression, the PNY Mini Attache, or the imation Swivel Pro Flash Drive, or even uniquely encasing the unit such as with the SanDisk Cruzer Titanium. Ultimately I think those are better overall designs than the PNY All-Terrain drive simply because even with the unique cap-attachment-nub feature, you can still lose the cap, or perhaps the nub falls off when the chain breaks.

Designs I really don't like include the just-try-to-pry-the-rubberized-encasement-off enclosure as evidenced with the Lexar JumpDrive Sport -- a rubberized encasement you're likely to want to just leave off the unit entirely, as we have often done around the office. One of my latest purchases was the imation USB Clip Flash Drive (in orange, if you must know) and though its design is unique, I find it annoyingly bulky overall and found myself wistfully placing the cap of my silver Lexar drive on the imation drive to see if it fit, as it made for a sleeker product. You could get totally crazy and unfashionable by using the imation Flash Wristband, but I daresay the days of black rubber bracelets being the key to fashion are long past us.

However, I've been pleased with the latest addition to my collection: the SanDisk Cruzer Freedom, a couple of which I nabbed on sale recently. The cap is interestingly designed and almost looks like a t-shirt or something, and I find it handy for a fidgety person such as myself in that I can whip it around my finger like a six-shooter without worry that it will fly off and hit someone.

And being the purist that I am, I picked up a few of the original Lexar JumpDrives in clear and in purple, because for some reason I get a bang out of seeing the workings of my machinery. Again, the caps would be easily misplaced, but I like how there is a nice allotment at the end of the unit for attachment of a ball chain or cording of some sort.

Speaking of which, I also have two Dane Elec flash drives -- both received as gifts, mind you -- whose attachment is flimsy and worthless. One broke not too long after I started using it, and I'm not even that harsh with pulling the drives out of the port... but when the CPU is on the floor and you need to root around on the floor just to plug the flash drive in, you're not necessarily going to be in the mood to be gentle with it when it comes time to remove it. Anyway, I've investigated bead shops and the like for jewelry accoutrements that might be helpful in fashioning some sort of ring upon which I can string a cord once more, but the hole through which I'd have to thread the ring is simply too small to accommodate anything of substance. At least the ring thing is attached to the body of the unit, though, which is more than I can say for my Sony Ultra Mini Micro flash drive, which has the cording attachment attached to the cap. Completely useless, that.

The newest thing on the market is the Memorex FlashDisc, and though I'm a complete nut for a cool flash drive, I don't think I'll be adding one of these to my collection. I had a hard enough time justifying picking up a 32mb flash drive (it was clear! it was purple! it was clear purple!), so there's no way I can properly justify blowing cash on a 16mb drive. Even if it is a very unique and retro design...