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Integral Mini USB 4 GB

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£8.38 Best Offer by: pcwb.com See more offers
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      28.10.2010 14:12
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      Good things sometimes don't come in small packages.

      It's fair to say that I'm rather tough on USB drives. I've lost two, run one over and dropped one down the loo. All of which was a pain in the arse as I use my USB drives to store my intervention plans for work. These come in at around 1500 words each and I have to write seventeen of them. Plus, constantly replacing USB pens gets expensive, even if you're not going for the top of the range ones.

      I bought this from Tesco because it was relatively cheap (just under a tenner although I see it's now available from Amazon for less than eight quid), it was 4GB and so would comfortably hold all my documents with tons of room to spare, it came with a keyring chain, it was rubber encased so it could visit the local USB S&M clubs without looking out of place (I jest, it was so I could run it over with merry abandon) and, best of all, it was TINY.

      At about half the size of my thumb, this is comfortably the smallest USB drive I've ever seen. Mine was clear silicone/rubber with a pink cap made of the same material. It was a doddle to use as the laptop and PC found and installed the drivers within a matter of seconds. In purely technical terms, it was very good quality - I was able to copy files and documents to it without any hassle and opening stored data was just as straightforward. I find that my USB drives often get a bit temperamental at the 'safely eject hardware' command and either they won't stop or the computer fails to recognise them. That never happened with this one and so there was no risk of files becoming corrupt because I hadn't removed the device properly. Even with all my work stuff on there (word documents, pictures, PowerPoint presentations, audio files etc.) there was plenty of free disk space left.

      The thing that let this down was the casing. The keyring was not a solid ring, but one of those bobbly metal ones (I have no idea what this is called, but it's the same stuff they use to attach pens to the desks in banks. Which I've always wondered about. Surely the cost of paying someone to install the bracket and the bobbly metal stuff is more than the cost of the occasional Bic being pinched? This is why we're having an economic crisis - poor pen management). This meant that if it was put under any kind of duress, it snapped apart. Even just being transferred from my bag to my computer would cause it to pop open. Without the keyring, there is no way of storing the lid and I frequently misplaced it. If I just stored it in my bag without attaching it to my keys it was so tiny that it was a real bother to find, even in a mid-sized handbag. The last straw was that the keyring was fixed through a hole in the rubber/silicone casing which meant that when I tried to pull it out of my bag using the keyring, the casing gave way and tore. Within a couple of days all the casing had peeled off leaving the USB drive unprotected from all the bits of fluff and grit in my bag.

      In theory, this is a decent USB drive for the money as Integral is a reliably good-quality manufacturer. However, if you need something that will survive a bit of a battering, I'd look elsewhere.

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