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There must surely come a point, in the not too distant future, where the ever-advancing capabilities of electronics miniaturisation become really rather more of a pain than a pleasure. In fact, we may well have arrived at just this point with the advent of the SanDisk Cruzer Edge flash drive. Now, the USB stick is a wonderful invention, and one which I would be totally lost without nowadays. Even in these days of "computing in the cloud", quite often it's necessary – or at least preferable – to have your data stored locally, and one of these thingamajigs is generally the best option as they have what you might call the three Cs: capacity, convenience and cheapness.
The thing most people will immediately notice about the Edge is that it is absolutely *tiny* – slightly shorter than an AA battery and considerably slimmer. Even when the slide-out plug is activated, it's not quite as long as my thumb from base to tip – making the term "thumb drive" entirely reasonable in this case! The main problem with this is that such smallness does make the Edge easy to lose if you're not careful. Yes, you can put it on a lanyard, and there's a hole at the non-business end for just that purpose; but let's face it, most people aren't going to do that all the time – and if it's just stuffed in a pocket, it can very easily disappear without your noticing until too late.
The Cruzer Edge is of standard USB 2.0 design, rather than following the newer and faster USB 3.0 standard, so you won't be transferring enormous files in ten seconds flat – but that does mean that it is compatible with just about anything you might want to connect it to. Officially it will work with Windows XP, Vista and 7, and with Mac OS X 10.5 or later, but I've had absolutely no problems using it with a variety of Linux distributions. The stick is made of light plastic, which feels a bit flimsy but in practice seems to be fairly robust, and you can buy it in a small range of colours: red, light blue or pink are your options for this 16 GB model.
The extras provided with USB sticks generally don't interest me much – this one has "SecureAccess" protection software, but it doesn't like Linux so I haven't been able to test it. I tend to feel that, if you really need to protect the data on any of your drives, a good third-party encryption package is probably your best bet – and if you're just storing your holiday snaps, you probably don't need one anyway. (Well, it does rather depend on exactly what you *did* on your holiday, I suppose!) There's also 2 GB of cloud storage, but that requires registration; if you already have a Dropbox (or the newly-announced Google Drive) you probably won't need it.
I haven't had any problems plugging in the Cruzer, and nor have I had trouble in getting any computer to recognise it or pick up the correct files. I'd expect this sort of smooth operation from a manufacturer as well-regarded and experienced in the field as SanDisk, but it's still nice to know. Street price for this drive is generally somewhere in the region of £10, which seems quite reasonable. Most of the big-name USB sticks are much of a muchness, so you may well end up deciding about this one on grounds of design alone: if you like a bit of heft then you might be irritated, but those who like the small, light feel should find it perfect.
Pictures of SanDisk Cruzer Edge - USB flash drive - 16 GB