On Our Desk - 14

Written by bit-tech Staff

November 17, 2008 | 08:15

Tags: #faith-martin #mass-effect #n52te #nostromo #on-our-desk #review #sumo-omni

Companies: #belkin #bit-tech #razer

ATP Earthdrive 4GB

Manufacturer: ATP
UK Price (as reviewed): £8.99 (inc. VAT)
US Price (as reviewed): $26.99 (inc. Tax)

The eco-friendly Earthdrive is meant to be one of the most environmentally friendly USB sticks that you’ll ever come across - but what actually makes the Earthdrive so green and friendly?

Well, instead of using nasty chemicals and acids to make the plastic ATP has used as many biodegradable materials as possible. The actual casing of the memory stick isn’t made from any old plastic; it’s made from a biodegradable polyester called PLA, which is made from renewable corn crops.

The question is though - why did a company who are so keen on saving the environment send a memory stick about the size of a thumbnail inside two large cardboard boxes about the size of a motherboard box? And why was one of these boxes filled with Styrofoam beads? And why were these boxes inside each other and shipped in a huge envelope, by air mail?

On Our Desk - 14 On Our Desk - Earthdrive 4GB On Our Desk - 14 On Our Desk - Earthdrive 4GB
Click to enlarge

Pretty ironic, eh? No matter.

The USB itself is lightweight and sturdy despite the unusual material choice. It’s been attached to Joe’s keyring for the past three weeks by the included clasp and only bears a few light scratches, so it’s at least as hardy as the competition.

We had a look at the mid-range Earthdrive memory stick, the 4GB model and it measures a tiny 36x23x10mm (HxWxD) that makes it perfect for carrying on your keyring, though it does tend to flex a little under the weight of your keys when it’s plugged in, we noticed.

The USB connector is retractable too, which is really useful. We often end up losing the tops to our USB sticks, which results in the connector getting scratched, but the Earthdrive avoids that problem completely.

The Earth Drive USB also boasts some extra toughness, claiming to be totally waterproof, shockproof, and dustproof. All the vital components are totally encapsulated on the circuit board, so this little memory stick should give you at least ten years of storage and companionship before it starts to wear out and biodegrade – or so says ATP anyway. We’re still testing that though, so we’ll have to get back to you at a later date.

On Our Desk - 14 On Our Desk - Earthdrive 4GB
Click to enlarge

Of course, being told that the USB was all of these things wasn’t good enough for us. We threw the Earthdrive around the office for a good fifteen minutes, banged it on the table and even gave it a good rinsing under the tap. After padding it dry we tried it out on the computer and sure enough it still worked as good as ever.

So, if you’re looking to buy a new memory stick, one that will last you a long time, and defeat the threatening consequences of washing machines, dust and clumsy people who might drop it a lot then we can recommend the Earthdrive USB stick. It does exactly what it says on the rather excessive packaging.

You will also be able to feel slightly better about your day, knowing that you have helped make the world a greener place...though you will still be using electricity via the PC of course.

One really good thing about the Earthdrive though is that it’s very cheap compared to a lot of other memory sticks. We were looking at the 4GB version which costs just over £10, but there’s a larger 8GB model too which can be had for only a few quid more in the UK.

Verdict: Capable and long-lasting, this is more than able to keep all your work safe. It claims to be good for the environment, but we reckon that by the time its travelled all the way from Taiwan in all that multi-layered packaging then the greenness is offset and the planet is pretty much buggered anyway.
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