- Review Price: £50.97
The current king of mobile storage is the USB memory key. Available in a huge variety of designs, shapes, sizes, colours and capacities, these versatile, extremely portable gadgets are pretty much the most prolific way we move data on physical media today. Of course, with their huge user base, a saturated market and ever narrowing margins due to declining memory prices, manufacturers are being put under ever more pressure to come up with ways of distinguishing their products from the competition.
Some employ unique designs, flashing lights, or odd colours. There are ones dressed up to resemble animals, ones that have extendable cords, and ones that are as flat as two credit-cards stacked together. Others come up with inventive ways of securing the cap (like OCZ’s ATV range), something I wish all manufacturers would do since it’s incredibly annoying to lose them. Of course, if you’re California-based IronKey, you just build what its creators claim is the “world’s most secure flash drive”.
Is this claim justified? Well, that really depends on what you mean by secure. If you mean from the elements, then something like Corsair’s Survivor drives would probably serve you better (can’t beat aircraft-grade aluminium and water resistant to 200 metres!). Unlike the IronKey (and most other memory sticks for that matter), the Survivor also uses a screw-cap system that does not place any stress on the actual USB connector.
But as USB flash drives go, the IronKey – which is offered in a range of one to four gigabytes and uses dual channel SLC NAND flash memory for a long data life and a good turn of speed – is still pretty rugged. Built into a metal housing with a rubber interior and seal, it ought to be waterproof (to an extent), and hold up fairly well against wear and tear, bumps and drops. It certainly looks impressive, with its clean lines and brushed metal finish, and it’s more likely that your key-chain or lanyard will break than the stick’s securing port, which is a hole drilled in its solid surface.
Just a quick note on packaging. There’s no sign of nasty finger-tearing blister packaging here, just a large cardboard box filled with thick grey foam protecting the drive. It’s easy to open, and very likely to protect the IronKey from obscene amounts of potential damage during transport. There’s even a foam-insert for a non-existent key, which is a nice way of incorporating the company’s logo.