32MB Store 'n' Go USB Drive, by Verbatim
Posted: 7-Mar-2004

3 1/2 out of 5 Mice

Vendor: Verbatim Type: COMMERCIAL

Reviewer: Bill Catambay Class: HARDWARE

Overview
The Verbatim Store 'n' Go USB drive is a thumb-sized USB device that plugs directly into your USB port. The drive comes in sizes ranging from 32MB all the way up to 1GB. Each drive includes the following features:

  • 10 Year Data Retention
  • No Batteries Required
  • Fast USB 2.0 Performance
  • Includes Carry Lanyard & USB Extension Cable
  • Resistant to shock and temperature extremes
  • Verbatim Lifetime Warranty

This review is for the 32MB Store 'n' Go drive.

Requirements

  • Any Mac or PC
  • USB Port

Price
Backed by a lifetime warranty, the Verbatim 32 MB Store 'n' Go sells for $27.99 at
Amazon.com (with free shipping).

Setup
The most difficult part of getting started with the Store 'n' Go drive is getting it out of the packaging. This particular package is solid heavy plastic completely sealed, and it does not snap open. I had to take a utility knife to make incisions on one side to free the USB drive (careful not to cut you or the drive), and more incisions on the other side to free the lanyard and extension cable. The instructions and mini-CD are in the center of the packaging; fortunately, the CD is only required for the PC, so I did not have to cut and dig further to retrieve these items.

Once out of the package, using the Store 'n' Go is a breeze. You just plug it in and access the drive just like any other Mac volume. It works in OS 9 or OS X, and does not require any software installation.

In Use
When I first plugged in the Store 'n' Go drive, it did not show up on my OS X desktop. After a reboot, it showed up, but if I dismounted it, unplugged it, and plugged it back in, it did not reappear. As with all USB-powered devices (that derive power from the USB port), if there is not enough power from the USB port, you will have these types of issues. Some devices require more power than others, and in my case, I was plugging the drive into a USB hub that had 6 other devices plugged into it. It's rare to see 7-port USB hubs now-a-days, and this is probably the reason. By unplugging just one other device from the hub, the USB drive always mounted when plugged in. If you plug the drive directly into the build-in USB port, this would not be an issue. Those with tower G4s like myself will note that the built-in USB port is generally not easily accessible (this is where the included USB extension cable would come in handy).

From the factory, the Store 'n' Go is formatted for the PC, and showed about 31 MB of space. At my first attempt to copy some files to the drive, I got an error that the drive would not accept some of the file names (specifically, file names that had a "/" in it). I then used OS X Disk Utility to reformat the drive as Apple Extended Journaled, and the files were able to copy; however, the available size dropped down to 21.8 MB. I then reformatted again, this time specifying Apple Extended, and was able to get back up to 29.8 MB. Apple Extended Journaled has a lot of overhead, and it not necessary on an external drive such as this. The optimal configuration to get the most space and be able to handle all Mac file naming conventions was using Apple Extended. If you need to share files between PCs and Macs, you'll want to stay with the PC format, and just avoid file names that aren't compatible with the PC.

The small size and weight of the Store 'n' Go is amazing. It's lighter than my toothbrush, and yet it functions flawlessly as a disk drive. The drive fits easily in any pocket, but the included carry lanyard (think of a stylish soft shoelace around your neck) is the best way to take the drive on the go. When you have important data on the drive, it just feels better to have it attached to the lanyard - you always know where it is.

In one of my uses, I wanted to copy some songs from a new CD I just purchased, the London Philharmonic performing Pink Floyd songs. My intention was to copy the entire CD to the Store 'n' Go, and then bring it to my girlfriend's house so that we could listen to the music there. Unfortunately, 32 MB is not enough space to copy a CD. I was only able to fit 5 songs on the drive.

In terms of speed, copying from my G4 Quicksilver to the Store 'n' Go was much faster than writing to a CD-ROM. Moreover, copying from the Store 'n' Go onto a G4 iMac was even faster, nearly as fast as a hard drive. USB 2.0 is certainly a better protocol than USB 1.1, and it's good to know that the Store 'n' Go takes full advantage of that.

Summary
The Verbatim Store 'n' Go USB drive is an incredibly small disk drive that performs great on both Mac OS 9 and Mac OS X. It's slightly more power hungry than other USB-powered devices, so you'll want to plug it in directly to your built-in USB port, or a powered USB hub that is not overburdened. It comes with a USB extension cable to support tower Macs whose ports are not easily accessible, and comes with a convenient carry lanyard so that you can take the drive on the go securely and in comfort. It can be formatted for PC or Mac, and comes in a variety of drive sizes. The throughput on the drive is very fast, especially on a USB 2.0 port. The 32 MB proved to be quite stable and reliable; the larger drives were not available for testing. The 32 MB size, however, is reminiscent of the 1st generation Rio MP3 players - not enough space to fit a CD. The 32 MB size is good for transferring documents, but for a more versatile USB drive, I would recommend upgrading to at least the 256 MB size (reliability not confirmed).

Pros

  • Stable thumb-sized USB drive
  • Supports USB 2.0 speed
  • Convenient carry lanyard included
  • Derives power from USB port


Cons

  • Unfriendly packaging
  • 32 MB too small
  • May not get enough power on a heavily used USB hub


Overall Rating

3 1/2 out of 5 Mice