- Review Price: £50.00
Besides my house and car keys, there are two things that are always in my pocket when I leave the house – my USB memory key and my Swiss Army knife. Anyone who needs to regularly transport data between machines will never be without a USB memory key – for me it’s particularly useful when I’m transferring copy or benchmark results from a test system to the PC on my desk. Likewise, I have an endless stream of kit arriving in the office, so it’s always useful to have a knife in my pocket to open them up and get at the goodies. I therefore assume that I’m exactly the kind of person that Swissbit had in mind when it designed the SwissMemory device in conjunction with Victorinox.
The Victorinox name is pretty legendary when it comes to pocket knives, and I doubt there are too many men out there that didn’t own a Swiss Army Knife at some point in their childhood. I vividly remember standing around in the school playground with my friends arguing over who had the best Swiss Army Knife, and debating the merits of a bottle opener over a corkscrew. But as I grew older, the need to have a massive Swiss Army Knife in my pocket equipped with every tool under the sun lessened, and the model I carry now is tiny, comprising a small blade, a nail file and a pair of scissors.
So, it’s clear, that although I want to have a decent amount of functionality in my pocket, I also want to have the smallest devices possible – which is why I have traditionally carried a tiny Swiss Army Knife and a very small PQI Travelling Disk USB memory key. But now all that is about to change, because the SwissMemory takes both of my pocket utility tools and rolls them into one.
The SwissMemory is a very small, pocket size Swiss Army Knife that includes a familiar array of tools, but also sports a 128MB USB memory key. Now, I’m not going to pretend that the SwissMemory is a new product, since it was initially released a few months ago. However, the original SwissMemory only sported a 64MB USB memory key, which, to be perfectly honest, isn’t capacious enough by today’s standards.
The SwissMemory is instantly recognisable as a Victorinox Swiss Army Knife. Finished in the more trendy translucent red, as opposed to the more traditional solid red. As well as the 128MB USB memory key, the SwissMemory has single blade, a nail file that doubles as a screwdriver and a small pair of scissors. There’s a sliding grey plastic switch that ejects a tiny ballpoint pen from its hiding place. It’s not the most comfortable writing implement, but it’s handy to know that you’ve always got a pen in your pocket when you need one. Finally, pressing the Victorinox logo illuminates a red LED torch, just in case you find yourself lost in the dark somewhere.
The battery for the torch can be clearly seen through the translucent plastic casing, although getting to it seems a little tricky at first glance. However, to the side of the battery is a small hole about the size of a paperclip. If you insert a paperclip into the hole it will push free the battery cover on the other side of the knife and eject the battery.
It’s fair to say that the USB memory key does add a fair bit of size to an otherwise tiny Swiss Army Knife, but it’s still far more convenient to carry than two separate devices. The memory key is ejected by flipping back a plastic cover – it can then be twisted open like any other tool in the knife. You can either plug the whole knife into your computer or actually remove the memory key and slip the knife back into your pocket. The latter is a pretty cool feature and lets you still use both the knife and the memory key separately. It also means that if you need to carry your memory key on a plane you won’t get arrested when passing through security. That said, Swissbit does offer a version of the SwissMemory Victorinox without any blades that can be taken onto a plane, although this kind of defeats the purpose if you ask me.
In the box you’ll find a USB extension cable which is handy if your PC is on the floor, or if your USB ports are heavily populated. There’s no cradle, but then I’m not sure that it would look right having a knife sitting in a docking cradle on your desk.
When you connect the SwissMemory Victorinox to your computer you’ll notice a SecureLock icon appearing. This is a utility that allows you to create a secure partition on the memory key that’s password protected. This is pretty useful if you happen to store sensitive data on your memory key, allowing you to keep it safe, but still keep an area open for public access.
There’s no doubt that the SwissMemory Victorinox is a great idea that’s well implemented, but how does it actually perform as a USB memory key? Unfortunately the answer to that question is, not very well. Strangely Swissbit has chosen to make the memory key only USB 1.1 compliant. That’s not to say that you can’t plug it into a USB 2.0 port, but the transfer rate is limited to the USB 1.1 standard. As such, the SwissMemory wasn’t the speediest of USB keys, and it was considerably slower than all the USB 2.0 devices I’ve looked at recently. The SwissMemory took two minutes seven seconds to write 105MB of MP3 files compared to 21 seconds on the ADTEC DataStick, while reading the same data back took one minute 28 seconds on the SwissMemory and 12 seconds on the ADTEC DataStick.
So, the SwissMemory Victorinox isn’t the fastest USB memory key on the block, but it does offer so much more in terms of features and functionality. Personally I think it’s a great little device, and allows me to carry only one thing in my pocket instead of two. But, as always price has to be considered – at the time of writing I could not find a single UK retailer that had a price for the 128MB SwissMemory Victorinox. Swissbit quoted me a price of around £50 including VAT, which isn’t bad considering you’re getting a genuine Swiss Army Knife as well as the memory key.
I really like the SwissMemory Victorinox, despite the slow USB 1.1 transfer rate. That said, for the price you could buy a much faster USB 2.0 device with far more capacity. Ultimately though, you’re not just buying a memory key, or even just a pocket knife. Swissbit has created a great amalgamated product that will appeal to gadget fiends the world over, whether they need one or not.
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