On Feb. 9, I reviewed the Sony MicroVault, a small, USB device for transferring files quickly. The folks at
Cyber 3, which make some Mac products and serve as distributors for others, carry a competing product in the Pen Drive. Though not quite as elegant a solution as Sony’s device, it’s much less expensive: $89.95 for the 128 MB model as compared to $299.99 for the MicroVault.
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The USB Pen Drives, which are manufactured by KTI Networks, come in capacities ranging from 16 MB to 1 GB. I took the 128 MB version for a test drive — and liked it. It’s not a “bootable” drives, but is designed for moving data around. The size of a disposable lighter, they’re both Mac OS 9 and Mac OS X compatible and is cross-platform with no drivers needed or formatting required.
You can save any type of files on the Pen Drive: text, graphic, program, music, or multimedia files. I use it mainly for text and graphic files.
It’s a great device for quickly backing up data. For instance, I use it to back up my latest batch of writing before leaving to pick up my kids from school or running errands. Having been burglarized in the past, I would be crushed if my Macs disappeared while I was out. But I’d be devastated if all my work vamoosed as well.
Sure, I could do the same thing with, say, a Zip disk. But I love the size of the Pen Drive. I can simply drop it in my shirt or jeans pocket. Heck, it even has a clip on it, just like some pens.
There are lots of things to like about the Pen Drive. It has a write protection switch on the side. When the switch is opened, the data can be read and written from/to the Pen Drive. When it’s closed, the data can only be read but can’t be written to the Pen Drive.
Though I haven’t tested this to the limit yet, but supposedly the Pen Drive can write and erase at least one million times, while data on the it can be stored for more than 10 years. (It uses non-volatile flash memory.)
There are a few precautions to take with the Pen Drive. Wait for a few seconds upon inserting and removing it, to give time to the operating system to recognize the Pen Drive. Avoid removing it immediately after inserting the Pen Drive or performing repetitive insertions/removals.
When the light is flashing, that means the Pen Drive is in use and data transfer is taking place between the Pen Drive and host machine so you can easily tell when it’s in use. You don’t want to remove it during transfers, or your data may be lost or the Pen Drive damaged.
Also, the Pen Drive comes with a cradle a la a Palm handheld (but much smaller). Supposedly, you don’t have to have the cradle, but can insert the Pen Drive directly into a USB slot. When I tried this, however, sometimes files wouldn’t transfer (I’d get an error message), so I recommend using the cradle at all times.
Not everyone needs a device like this. But if, like me, you need something compact for quickly transporting and sharing files between computers without cables or adaptors, it’s a good buy.