Kingston is arguably the largest memory manufacturer/brand out there and with its latest and largest DataTraveler USB stick is making a claim to being a serious "storage" company too. USB keys (and SSDs) aren't that far of a stretch for a memory company and with Kingston's strong reputation for reliability - but even so, the launch of the first ever 256GB flash drive is something of a nice surprise.
Yes that's two hundred and fifty six gigabyte of raw space, or 238GB after formatting. We don't normally review USB keys, but Kingston's new DataTraveler 300 provoked the question: how big is too big? Is USB 2.0 a fast enough interface for using such an amount of space? Is it worth the five hundred and sixty five pounds asking price?
One things for sure, it doesn't look arrive looking like £565 worth of USB key. It doesn't turn up in a velvet-lined palanquin, but an unassuming carboard box and clear plastic cover. Kingston's conservative ways are clearly at work here, arguably a little more effort to make it sexy or enticing wouldn't have gone amiss. On the plus side, it takes all of two seconds to get into - no blister pack blues here.
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The DataTraveler 300 itself isn't too large at all, especially given its capacity, and conversely not so small that it's easy to lose out your pocket! It measures 16 mm x 71 mm x 22 mm (W x D x H), and features a nifty loop at the back end for hooking it onto a chain or keyrings. The capless design is one we're very much in favour of - personally I've lost every cap to every USB key that I own. Another plus is that the retractable USB connector clips firmly into place - other keys I've used with a similar design simply push the connector back into its packaging when trying to plug it into a PC. So, on the outside, Kingston ticks all the boxes. The only thing it doesn't do it offer an explicitly hardwearing design, either with a rubberised coating or being sealed within a metal shell to make it drop proof.
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Now to the free software! This isn't just a stick with space, Kingston throw in some personal data protection software as well. Password Traveler secures the data in a password protected "privacy zone". It doesn't encrypt the files behind it, however, leaving the data still vulnerable to attack in other ways, however the software will only let the user have 256 password retries (only!) before it automatically erases the data.