Kinston has a range of DataTraveller drives that are designed to support Windows Vista’s ReadyBoost, so one of the first things I wondered was whether this one would be recognised by Vista as a ReadyBoost drive. If so, it would be quite cool, seeing as 8GB SDHC memory cards have just been announced. Testing for this was quite easy – I just plugged it into a laptop running Vista. If you plug a ReadyBoost compatible drive into Vista a pop up box asks you if you wish to use it for ReadyBoost purposes - and that didn’t happen. Checking the properties confirmed that the drive isn’t fast enough, which was a disappointment. However, I then inserted a 4GB Kingston SDHC card into the reader and then tried again - that did work, with the ReadyBoost tab giving me use the option to use the full capacity of the card.
I decided then to test the performance of the internal 2GB memory on the drive, though with it failing to be fast enough for ReadyBoost, I was hardly expecting fireworks. This proved to be the case, with a 700MB file transferring across in one minute 39 seconds – 7.07MB/s – a lot slower than my current USB stick of choice, a SanDisk Cruzer. The problem isn’t the interface though, as copying the same file across to a 4GB SDHC card took only 55 seconds - 12.73MB/s. The difference between reading off the internal memory and the card were even greater – 700MBs took one minute 21 seconds to copy from the drive (8.64MB/s) and only 29 seconds from the card (24.14MB/s).
With these kinds of scores I’d think of the DataTraveller/Reader as a SDHC card reader first with a handy 2GB of memory built in, rather than primarily a USB memory key. The relative bulk of the drive would mean that you’d probably think of it that way anyhow. It also got quite hot after a few minutes copying to and from the drive.
On the upside it won’t be breaking that bank as the RRP for the 2GB version is only £23 including VAT, while the 1GB version will only cost £11.60. At the time of writing it’s not quite yet available in the shops, but you can expect online prices to be cheaper still, which is good news for the forthcoming 4GB version.
All in all, as a USB memory key this device is a bit disappointing, being slow, hot, and bulky. However, if you think of it as a card reader with some extra memory thrown in, it makes more sense and at the price you can hardly go wrong.
As long as you think of it as a SDHC card reader with memory built-in rather than the other way round, Kingston’s Data Traveller Reader is a really neat idea. The build quality isn’t amazing, the internal memory isn’t the fastest and it’s a shame it's SD only, but it's still refreshingly innovative.