SanDisk Cruzer Contour 16Gb

A few years ago, if a girl had asked me “Is that a 16GB hard drive in your pocket or are you just pleased to see me,” I would have taken it as a compliment. Nowadays I’d take it as an insult. That’s progress for you, or miniaturisation at any rate, as elegantly demonstrated by the SanDisk Cruzer Contour 16Gb, which has been in my pocket for the past few months.

Only slightly bigger than the 1GB drive I was using prior to its arrival, it features a unique capless design that allows you to protect its USB 2.0 connector by sliding it into its shell, like some kind of tech savvy tortoise.

The drive comes with U3 technology inside. Not to be confused with Oui 3 or Us 3, U3 is a mobile computing platform that enables you to carry U3 applications around with you (in addition to data) and run them direct from the drive, when you plug it into a PC (U3 is PC only). Examples of the growing list of U3 applications include browsers, business applications, utilities, photo editors and viewers, VoIP and games.

This is all very well if you actually have a need for this. I don’t and consequently found the popping up of the U3 box and the appearance of two devices on the desktop, instead of one, every time I plugged it into a PC, an annoyance, though this is my only real gripe…well that and the fact that older Macs simply refuse to recognise the drive’s existence.

That said, U3 does offer certain advantages, such as password protection and AES hardware encryption, so if you work for a government department and carry around the personal data of half the nation on a stick, make it a SanDisk Cruzer Contour, then next time you leave it on a train or in the back of a taxi, there’s always the possibility that it might not end up being sold to the highest bidder.

Having tested the Cruzer on a wide variety of PCs and Macs, I found that it performed faultlessly (on all of those machines with which it was compatible – Windows® 2000, XP, Vista and Mac OS X v10.1.2 and above). With performance of 25 MB/sec read and 18 MB/sec write speeds, it proved ideal for video as well as photos, music and everything else I tried. It even withstood a number of drops, knocks and bangs. What more could you want? How about a Lifetime Limited Warranty and a leatherette pouch with keychain! Yup they’re included too, making it my USB mass storage device of choice.

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