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In the market for a new memory stick? Need something stylish with a large storage capacity and fast read/write speeds? Then the Sandisk Cruzer Contour Extreme could be just right up your street.
This one cost £36 - hold on, £36! Am I crazy? Probably yes! I know some USB flash drives are half the price but then this one is a little special. The build quality is robust and stylish. The mechanism to pull out and retract the USB part of the drive is nifty and well executed. There is a definite sense of some money being spent here on making this flash drive a hard wearing device. I have to warn you though that it is larger than most flash drives. It isn't exactly a catwalk model but it sure makes up in performance.
So what comes with it? On the drive, comes an encryption program and a pretty good one. It's useful to encrypt your files but remember that a strong password consisting of numbers, letters and other characters should ensure that your files are safe from prying eyes. A smart case also comes with the drive but seriously, this flash drive looks too good to keep hidden in a case.
Once you stick the USB drive into the USB port of your computer, a glorious orange light comes up with the word 'cruzer'. It's not too bright or tacky - it's actually tasteful. But I wish they would have put a blue light on this one (like the 8GB one). However, that's not the end of the review!
Speed wise - this flash drive is called extreme for a reason - it is a speed demon with copying and moving files. I did a double take when it moved just over 1GB of data within 10 seconds. This is only possible if you have a few large files. With more smaller files, the performance will not be as quick but still quicker than most flash drives.
Because of the speed of this drive, you can also use it as additional RAM for Vista or Windows 7 using the Readyboost function. Now by default, the windows operating system limits the space to 4gb, You can change this by formatting the drive to exFAT - this will use the entire flash drive. Of course people are dubious about Readyboost. If you use intensive applications such as Photoshop or like running loads of applications simultaneously, this flash drive is perfect for you. Of course, physical RAM is lightning quick and the flash drive is nowhere as quick but compared to a hard drive, it is quick.
Is it worth buying? If you want speed, style and capacity then yes, buy it. Trouble is it is quite rare to get hold of. Of course, you'll ask yourself why bother when 16GB flash drives for half the price exist? Well, that's ultimately your choice. I've used other flash drives such as Integral, Corsair and Integral - none of them come even close to the performance of the Cruzer Extreme.