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Crucial Gizmo!  512Mb - Preliminary Review

So much technology - even gadgetry that you're jazzed about and desperate to use - often involves a battle before you can get it to work properly. In this complicated busy world we inhabit simple things that just plain work when you want them to are just plain refreshing.

The Crucial Gizmo!  512Mb USB Flash Drive is just such a piece of refreshing gadgetry that works without putting up a fight first - it's simple, reliable and does what it's supposed to.  

The price of USB Flash memory is now at an all time low so there are not only more people in the market wanting to buy one (or many) there are more companies than ever making and selling them.  However, it's important to be careful when making a purchase as not all USB flash memory is created equal.

The Crucial Gizmo! comes in a variety of sizes ranging from 128Mb to 1Gb.  The drive that I tested is a 512Mb drive but the others from the range are identical in design - only the capacity varies.

There were several things that struck me about the Crucial Gizmo! straight away.  The attention to packaging was the first.  Most such devices seem to come in either a plain lightly padded envelope or blown plastic display package.  The Gizmo! was supplied in a sealed Crucial cardboard box, the actual device carefully wrapped in bubble wrap inside. I like that attention to detail and protection. Along with the drive I received a lanyard, a split ring for keys and a small user guide.

The cap of the Gizmo! was another pleasant surprise - the click-fit cap covering the USB connector is surprisingly secure and pops off and on with a satisfying "click!".  I've seen many such devices with poor quality push on top which fall off when carried in a pocket or around the neck allowing dirt and moisture to enter the connector.  A properly fitted cap is a rarity but a nice touch on the Gismo!

The other thing that struck me about the Gizmo is how compact it is, measuring just 66.5 x 16.5 mm (2.6 x 0.6 inches).  While a bulky drive gives the impression that the buyer is getting more for their money, the problem with bulky drives comes when you try to fit them into USB slots that have other connectors plugged in either side.  The only solution to this is an extension cable, which means that you have to carry a bulky drive and a cable wherever you go.  The sleek, slim design of the Gizmo! eliminates these kinds of problems.

Finally, and this isn't something that you get from every manufacturer - the Gizmo! is backed by Crucial's limited lifetime warranty.  

Using the drive is simplicity - I plugged it into both USB 1.1 and 2.0 ports and the on-board LED on the Gizmo! flashed and the necessary drivers were loaded by Windows and the Gizmo! was ready to use within seconds.  

The Gizmo! is compatible with:

  • Windows XP
  • Windows 2000
  • Windows ME
  • Mac OS 8.6 and higher
  • NOT compatible with Windows 95/98/SE

In order to benefit from high speed USB 2.0 the system needs to be running either Windows XP, 2000, ME or Mac OS 9.1 or higher and have a free USB 2.0 port on the machine. 

When the drive was loaded I noticed that the software promised with the drive to encrypt and password protect the data was on the drive rather than being supplied on a separate CD.  A nice touch but for safety and security I decided that this needed to be copied to the hard drive and backed up - just in case!  I know I can always download a copy from the Crucial website but I like to keep things like that close to hand.

NOTE:  I'll be covering the software included with the Gizmo! in greater depth in the next review.

One small gripe I have with the Gizmo! is the clip on the lanyard.  This is a small plastic clip that to me doesn't scream security (it seems a lot more secure and better thought out than the clip that appears on the Novatech Flash USB drive).  I admit that it's probably my imagination (fuelled by paranoia of losing the drive) tricking me into thinking that it's not secure.  In pull tests I've subjected it to a steady 10Kg without any ill effects so it certainly seems strong enough, but I still worry about the clip getting accidentally dislodged and losing the drive.  Solutions to this problem are easily found though so I don't think that this is a major concern.

Having had the drive for a couple of days now I have to say that my initial impressions are all positive.  It's small, sleek, well designed and engineered and does what it should.  In the next article I'll look at the Gizmo! in action, as well as examining the software and data transfer speeds.

For more information on the Crucial Gizmo! visit: http://www.crucial.com/store/listmfgr.asp?cat=drives+storage

Crucial Gizmo! USB Flash Drives

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes
Last updated: March 1st 2005
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