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      30.10.2011 17:48
      Very helpful
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      • Reliability

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      A basic but colourful memory stick, with handy password protection thrown in

      Sometimes it's just about something being in the right place at the right time. I had to give a presentation at a recent job interview, and since I wasn't born in the dark ages, given a choice between an over head projector and Powerpoint, I plumped for the latter. As many of my USBs partied with viruses while I was in Sierra Leone, I thought it wise to buy a new one, lest I damage my chances by infiltrating the panel's machine with African lurgies, and this was the cheapest stick on offer in my local Tesco the day I wanted to get one.

      This is an extra small memory stick (37 mm by 20 mm, and 8 mm deep) with some interesting design features. The first is its size - it is about half the size of a traditional design, of the kind you often get with a logo on at sponsored events. This one, on the other hand, can easily be concealed in the palm of your hand, though I'm struggling to find a reason you might need to do that. It's not like it's a tampon. The second thing of note about the design is that it has an integrated cover rather than a removable lid.

      To use it, you have to twist the white bit away from the pink bit, which simultaneously makes it swivel round exposing the end, and coaxes said end further out so it is accessible. No complaints about this bit: the seamless integration means no loose parts to lose, and the protection on the end keeps out dust and dirt and other nasties when the drive is not in use. The only niggle relating to the overall design is the lack of hoop on the end, meaning you would really struggle to thread this onto a keyring or secure it in some other way. Given the size it's sure to get lost easily since you cannot tether it to anything, and on interview day I made sure to put it in the coin bit of my purse just so I knew where to find it.

      This is a 4GB drive which wouldn't work for permanent storage of lots of media files, but is plenty big enough for transporting a couple of presentations or reports. I always think it looks unprofessional to rock up at a presentation with a bulging memory stick and would file things on it neatly at the very least. This particular drive comes in sizes from this small 4GB to a quite respectable 32GB, and also in a range of colours. Tesco Direct stock these, but my local store only had this one and I think a blue, and since this one was for some reason reduced, I knew which one I was going for. The colour is and isn't obvious: you cannot deny the thick stripe at the top of the drive, which is a fuchsia on mine, but at the same time I would describe it as a white USB with pink accents rather than the other way round. I would not feel embarrassed to use this for work purposes and I don't think it screams 'girlie' the way, perhaps, a flowered stick might.

      The drive boast a plug 'n' play design, meaning no additional software is needed to open and view files. I think pretty much all are like this now, but I do remember way back when, when you'd sometimes have to download brand specific readers for different drives. I find my computer finds this drive quickly when it's plugged in, and it has the standard Windows Explorer filing system that will be familiar to most people. You can create folders to organise files etc, and also sort by name, size, date and so on.

      The stick comes preloaded with two items. One is the user guide, though I can't imagine why you'd need to read it. The second is Flash Lock, a password protection feature. This is a bit misleading as it says 'Password (16 characters)' but just means this is the longest you can have. It is easy to set and change a password, and you can then set it so whenever you plug it in, you have to enter it before you can view some of the files BUT only the files saved once you are logged in. By this I mean there are two areas, one of which is unprotected and anyone can see / play with, and the other of which is password protected. It's not the stick so much as the second area that the password applies to, so you need to be sure you're saving your confidential files in the 'private' hidden area, not the starting bit. I may not have explained this too well, but it will be a familiar set up to anyone who has used a password protected stick before. I am now sure how secure it is, and certainly it doesn't seem quite as strong as the ones we use for sensitive data at work, but it would certainly stop an amateur snoop getting into your files without permission. For an added feature thrown in for free, I think it's worth having, even if you don't use it all the time.

      Called 'Flash Drive' as standard, you can change this to something a bit more meaningful by using right click -> rename - TDK or Pink would be better for me as I have various USB ports and if I had lots of sticks in, I'd not know from that description which one it applied to. This has so far proved to be a reliable memory stick. It has never malfunctioned on me, and I have never had any issues with the documents save on it. It plugs in smoothly and loads quickly, though the folder doesn't open automatically, so have to navigate there through Computer if I wish to see the files I have (rather than open one through the related program). I also find it a bit irritating that messing with the password (changing it, or locking / unlocking the device) closes the Flash Drive window, so you then have to navigate back into it to look at the files.

      Tesco currently has them for £10.97 in colours including green, blue and orange among others. The pink is currently the same price, though in store it was only £9.99 for some reason. I expected to pay about that so I am happy with it as it's cute to look at, and the password protection is nifty, though it loses a star for lack of hook or connector of some sort. It comes with a 5 year warranty. In the technology world that's fine as who knows what devices we'll have by 2016, and in all honesty I'll probably have lost this one by then anyway...


      The following links directly to this product:

      http://www.tdkperformance.com/en-eu/Storage-Media/Flash-Media/TF250-Flash-Drive/

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