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My first foray into USB Flash drives came at the expense of using a very cheap 1GB Mp3 player I bought a few years ago from Woolworths. It had a product name that was not available on the internet, unashamedly cheap looking, sported a speaker, a few sound settings and passed itself off as a 1 GB multi-media device not only useful for storing music and playing, but also useful for storing data such as word documents or affiliated documents from a PC. Now at the time I didn't really think that I would need anything more than this brilliant little Mp3 player with the only downside that it used a single AAA battery that kept losing power the moment it was installed and as such documents had to be transferred over in a jiffy at the time of need.
Many years had passed and when a gift of a Firelight external hard drive was given to me from my parents one Christmas I have never really felt the need to use a Flash USB stick when I'm happy enough to carry my mini Filofax sized external hard drive with me and everywhere I go. However as a supply teacher concurrently teaching and freelance teaching anywhere I go, a USB Flash stick drive was essential equipment between uses with PC and MAC systems. Although I shopped around at PC World, W H Smith and Maplin, the Lexar range of flash USB storage disk/sticks really impressed me for their extra speed and design thought.
Nar2's Quick Skip Product Spec
2GB maximum capacity.
10 bar LCD gauge showing free & used storage space.
Key ring hole and removable cap.
Pre-loaded security software with Encryption ability.
File shredder feature.
Requires 2.0 USB interface.
Compatible with Mac OS X 10.2 and upwards, Windows 2000, ME, XP & above.
Price in 2008 £12-95 from John Lewis.
Price in 2012 discontinued, replaced by 100GB capacity £50 to £70.
The Price, The Product & The Promise
The Lexar Jumpdrive Secure II Plus 2 GB flash drive cost me £12-95 four years ago as an impulse buy in John Lewis. I considered this to be averagely priced even though it was about £2 more than the standard £9-95 priced 1GB stick that John Lewis also sold. Online the prices are cheaper but you can't get it straight away, ranging from £8-99 to £11-99. However over the two sticks, I reckoned with various word and Power Point documents I had, not to mention copious amounts of Music software and MP3 & MP4 tracks and videos, a 2GB flash stick would really fit all my needs without worrying about having to buy another one in the foreseeable future.
General Design & Performance
Initially it didn't take me long to appreciate the Lexar stick. Recommending it to colleagues who had either been using free flash memory sticks they had received in the post with purchased equipment, the free memory sticks never tended to last and broke up due to the cheap quality plastic not to mention the poor metal detail of the USB connection itself, which eventually loosens itself from the main body of the flash stick.
Not so with the Lexar; this stick has been pulled & used by pupils, thrown when borrowed by other colleagues, stamped on and still works like new since the day I got it - not bad considering that its design is at best, the least offensive and has a white strip at the back for the owner to write whatever they want; mine has my name on it incase it gets lost for example, whilst on the main face of the stick apart from the Lexar brand name in white lettering there is a very handy and almost unique file usage LCD panel that constantly shows how much giga byte / memory space has been used up. Now whilst other sticks may have this feature when they are plugged in, the Lexar's main name lights up in blue when its plugged in but when not in use, the LCD panel still shows a shaded dark grey to indicate the space that has been used; that in itself is very handy to know especially when faced with downloading more documents at the time of need - and the stick will continue to show its gauge even if say, a week has passed by without plugging into a computer; and if you erase or add documents the gauge will fall or rise correspondingly. I find the bonus feature very useful but more so for the fact that four years on, I've yet to find another memory flash stick that sports that feature!
Equipped with this Jump Drive are a few security features, but have no fear, it has a plug and play facility whereby simply plugging it into a 2.0 USB point on any computer, be it a MAC or PC, the Lexar starts up immediately and keeps data safe by equipping the hard drive with two main folders of security; the Secure II system that backs up files and another folder that holds the technology of the stick itself such as a encryption service that allows me to only assign documents that are private for me to open only, or I can assign a password equally. Another great feature is the file shredder software that allows me to erase documents safely and securely without fear that if the stick falls into the wrong hands, the files can be read even though they may well have been erased originally but can still be found in the Back up data files. With each application, the Lexar will never automatically transfer this software onto your computer or MAC which is another added bonus for greater peace of mind.
But, despite all these security features, the one advantage of the Lexar that I've come to trust is the fact that I'm able to transfer Microsoft Office word documents, Rich Text documents from MAC computers, MP4 videos, Windows Media music files and other affiliated Microsoft Window documents and devices such as JPEG or GIF type photos as well as sole documents from professional software such as Garage Band files from Apple Mac and Sibelius music files; just as long as the computer you're plugging the stick into can accept these files in the first place. it only takes a matter of seconds for the files to come through or appear on the chosen PC/MAC screen, too.
The downsides of the Lexar Jump Drive Secure II 2GB flash stick are harder to spot. It has a sensible look to it, quite clinical in grey plastic but feels smooth to the fingers exuding some good design feel as well as looking like a piece of hard ware and long enough to gain respect. However I have read other reviews whereby the product doesn't seem to be durable enough - I've never had a problem in 4 years so I don't quite know what owners are doing with these sticks!
Whilst the 10 bar capacity gauge is a handy feature to have, it can't be seen in poor light and an additional cap on top of the stick has a looped hole to allow it to be put on key rings. However I have found that through thorough use, the cap is now beginning to loose its extra strong locking feel and can slip off in use making the use of putting on a key ring or similar, useless if the cap falls off and the stick gets lost.
Thankfully in plastic acrylic and card, the packaging is fairly easy to rip off making the stick useful at the time of purchase for instant use. Lexar's flash drive works on all concurrent and current Microsoft & MAC operating systems although it is best to check on the yellow and white blister pack if you're not too sure.
By 2012 however, the largest downside of the Lexar JumpDrive Secure stick is availability. I can't seem to locate it anywhere other than one seller on Amazon.co.uk who is selling a massive 100GB version at £62. Now you may argue that is pretty expensive for a memory stick, but bear in mind the capacity and it may well be a good idea.
Instead, should this product come up again for sale with its original 2GB capacity (LEXAR TAKE THE HINT!!) I will be more than happy to buy another flash stick to use as a standby, or simply for use for other selected files.