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Reviewed by: Carl Nelson [11.19.04]
Manufactured by: Seagate, Kingston, Vantec

Lowest Price Finder
Seagate Pocket Drive 5GB: $155 @ NewEgg
Kingston Data Traveler Elite 512MB: $60 @ mWave
Vantec NexStar 2 USB2: $36 @ NewEgg
2.5" HotDrive: $37 @

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After looking at each product closely, and comparing the prices and performance results, there really is no clear winner here. Each portable drive has its own unique strengths and weaknesses. Therefore, I'll go through each one, and you can decide which one might suit you most.

USB 2.0 Flash Drives

As you can tell by my reaction to the real world file transfer tests, I was greatly impressed by the Kingston Data Traveler Elite. Too long have I had to put up with huge waits to transfer larger files to flash devices. And although it was bigger than the Gigabyte we tested, it is still very portable, and comfortable to carry since it is very thin.

The one thing I didn't like about the DT Elite in particular was the fact that it uses a detachable cap to protect the USB plug. This thing is easy to lose, since you are often taking it off to transfer files here and there. I REALLY liked Gigabyte's slick design; the unit was absolutely tiny, and the retractable USB plug was great. However the performance wasn't there. Put the DT Elite inside a Gigabyte package, and you have yourself a perfect 10/10 flash drive.

However flash memory comes at a premium - $100 per GB to be exact. For a smaller device that is acceptable - $50 for a 512MB flash drive that performs like the DT Elite is pretty good! But if your needs go beyond that, you are going to be stuck. Currently the larget DT Elite is 2GB, and that will be $200.

In my opinion, flash drives like the Data Traveler Elite are perfect for applications such as backing up personal data, music, and the occasional game demo. The DT Elite actually does come with a nice security util that allows you to partition a portion of it with 128 bit encryption. It features a hardware encryption controller, so performance should not be affected either.

3.5" HDD Enclosures

They are easily the cheapest solution, at less than $1 per GB. But they are also the least portable. Even if you had a backpack, a 3.5" enclosure is a lot to lug around. That, and you have to be quite careful with it, as hard drives are sensetive to shock.

They are the cheapest, and the fastest by quite a margin. However due to their size, enclosures like these are more suitable for transporting data between no more than two locations or so. If you work on graphics or games and want to do some work from home, something like this is right up your alley.

2.5" HDD Enclosures

Notebook HDD enclosures are sort of stuck between the bulkiness of 3.5" enclosures, and the Seagate Pocket Drive. It has the advantage of cheap storage - $2.50 per GB - and while it is certainly more portable than a full sized drive, it is not pocketable.

Performance is not quite as good as 3.5" enclosures, and in fact the flash-based Kingston is faster in some cases. Something like this would be suitable for the same people who would go for a 3.5" drive, but want something slightly more portable. Perhaps to transport data between more than just two locations, as long as you have a backpack or something.

Seagate Pocket Drive

Although performance was far from stellar, the Pocket Drive perfectly fits the niche of people looking for a larger amount of storage than you can find on a flash device, while retaining the ultra compact form factor. Price wise, you'll spend $25 per GB with the Pocket Drive, which is perfectly acceptable considering its size. Flash based drives are a long way from this storage size, and even longer from the price per GB.

The Pocket Drive might not contain enough storage to transport huge media files like movie projects for work, but should be suitable for nearly everything else. You could fit several DivX movies on one, or even an entire single layer DVD.