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Wednesday, 22 July 2009 10:49

World's first 256GB USB 'Fla$h' drive arrives

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256GB, or a quarter of a terabyte, is now available from Flash manufacturer Kingston Technology, which it says “allows users to store and carry an entire digital library in a small mobile device”, but early adopters will need well over $1000 to pay for the privilege!

Ok, ok... Kingston didn’t call their new 256GB drive a “Fla$h” drive, but at a cost of AUD $1299 (or an even more whopping NZD $1679) you could well be forgiven for thinking of Fla$h instead of flash.

Rather than calling its new USB flash stick the “DataTraveller 256”, which would seem logical, Kingston is calling it the DataTraveller 300, which comes in only one 256GB capacity.

Promising data transfer rates of “up to” 20 MB/sec. read and 10 MB/sec. write, Kingston says the new drive is “ideal for netbook users who want to extend the limited capacity of their machines”.

Probably remembering at the last minute that the $1299 purchase price could instead buy netbook users another three or four complete new netbooks, Kingston then came back to reality by suggesting “it can also be used by business consumers who work with large databases, or even designers who need to transfer large design files from one place to another.”

So, just how much can be stored on 256GB? Apparently it’s enough for at least 51,000 photos and can hold the equivalent of a 1346 metre tower of paper, which Vaughan Nankivell (Kingston Technology’s Australian regional manager) says “demonstrates how far flash technology has developed”.

Clearly it's also huge numbers of songs, videos, documents and more, with most consumers well used to traditional hard drives in the hundreds of gigabytes and now the 1TB and 2TB ranges. Hundreds of gigabytes of Flash is still far more uncommon, however.

Of course it’s no surprise to anyone using Flash memory today that larger sizes are on the way – we’ve all seen the rapid and very welcome price drops in Flash prices over the past couple of years, and hopefully, the DataTraveller 300 will quickly follow the same path.

Windows 2000, XP and Vista users get access to “Password Traveler software” which will “allow business users and consumers to password protect their data in a privacy zone without the need of administrator rights.”

Presumably this will also work in the upcoming Windows 7 OS, but while the drive easily works on Mac OS X 10.3.x + and Linux v.2.6.x + PCs, the pre-loaded password software is Windows only.

Described as having a “sleek cap-less design that will protect the USB connector when it is not in use”, the drive is also “enhanced for Windows ReadyBoost” as Vista and Win 7 users would expect.

It comes with a five year warranty and ‘free tech support’. For those with cash to burn, it’s the latest must-have mini gadget of the moment, but for the rest of us, we might just have to wait until 256GB of Flash sells for the same prices 4GB, 8GB and 16GB flash cards sell for today.

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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

One of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.

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