SuperTalent Pico Drives: Tiny, Compact Form Factor, Great Big Value and Capacity

A couple of months ago, my friends at memory maker SuperTalent Technology sent me several of their super-compact Pico USB Flash drives for review. After finishing a couple of books, and dispatching diverse dragons, I’m finally ready to report on my findings. The quick’n’dirty take on these 8 GB flash drives is: excellent value, nice engineering, ultra-compact form factor, very usable, though a tad slow (but OK) for ReadyBoost.

Let’s start with a list of what SuperTalent sent me:

  • 8GB Pico-D Swivel Flash Drive (STU8GPDS): Pick one up at for $14.99 right now and get free shipping. This design features a center post swivel so that the business end (USB connector) for the device rotates inside a sleeve when not in use. Weighs 8.2 g (0.2892 oz) without the chain, 9.2g 0.3245 oz) with chain. Lack of a standard USB connector means you have to pay attention to where the contacts are, and insert the Flash drive correctly.

    SuperTalent Pico Drive image
    The Pico-D features a swivel-mounted Flash module: swivel it in to cover it up; swivel it out to plug it in.
  • 8GB Pico-C Nickel Plated Flash Drive (STU4GPCN): You can buy this puppy at right now for a measley $19.04 (plus S&H). Both versions includes a jewelry grade chain: weights are 4.6 g (0.1623 oz) without, and 6.3 g (0.1975) with. The Pico-C models feature a more obvious USB business end, but provide no cover for the contacts. Some attention to plug-in orientation is still required, but you really can’t put one in upside-down as you can with the Pico-D.

    SuperTalent Pico Drive image
    Both nickel and gold models look the same, except for the color of their outside plating.
  • 8GB Pico-C Gold Plated Flash Drive (STU8GPCG): So the gold plate obviously costs a little more, as does the longer, more attractive gold-plated chain that comes with it. The device weighs the same as the nickel-plated model (4.6 g/0.1623 oz), and again, the chain weighs little (1.7g/0.0960 oz). Except for the bling, however, this unit is identical in size, shape, and performance to the nickel-plated model. You’ll pay an extra $8.58 for the gold on this model ($27.62 total) at SuperBiiz.

    image of SuperTalent Pico Drive next to a quarter
    When you put the Pico-C next to a US Quarter, you can really appreciate its tiny size.

No matter which model you choose, you get a lot of capacity at a very low price–for the preceding units $/GB falls in a range from $1.87 to $3.45. Even at the high end, this is cheaper than 4 GB units cost less than six months ago.

Pros and Cons of the 8GB SuperTalent Models

On the plus side, you get decent read speeds (just under 30 MBps seems like a safe average figure), a low price per GB of storage, compact sizes, light weight, and pretty good looks. All these Flash drives worked well for us in the office and on the road, and were more than tough enough to shrug off the hazards of travel and life on the road, as well as the hazards of a home office with an inquisitive 4-year-old VERY interested in these compact powerhouses.

For a 32 KB file, write (orange) and read (blue) speeds in MBPS (y-axis) versus block sizes in KB (x-axis).
graph image of 4mb hard drive tuning results
Same axes as above, for 4 MB file.
image of graph for 512 MB hard drive tuning results: Same axes again, for 512 MB file.
Same axes again, for 512 MB file.

On the minus side, you get fairly slow write speeds. Our HDTune screencaps consistently read under 10 MBps–we measured 9.22 MBps for a 2.6 GB .PST file just to confirm these numbers–in fact, write speeds appear to average in a range from 6 to 9 MBps. By contrast, my trusty old 2 GB Memina Rocket measures out 18-23 MBps on these same tests; newer SATA hard drives routinely measure between 60 and 70 MBps write speeds. Though I used the Pico-D for ReadyBoost on two different Vista systems for a week apiece, and noticed no slowdowns, currently gives the OCZ Rally the nod for “fastest ReadyBoost Flash Drive” where an 8 GB model will set you back $23 at Newegg. I only observe a 4-5% difference in the PC Doctor memory benchmarks when using faster versus slower ReadyBoost drives, however, so I’m not sure it really makes a big difference.

With Flash drives as small as the Pico units, you also have to be careful when working with them. They’re so small they can disappear far too easily, so it’s best to keep them plugged into a USB port, or clipped onto a key fob (that’s how I manage to hang onto mine, anyway).

[important]Bottom Line: Great Bang for the Buck

If you want stylish, capacious, and affordable USB Flash drives, you could do a lot worse than to pick up one or more of these SuperTalent Pico drives. If you want mine, you’ll have to fight me for it![/important]



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A Change of Memory Makes a Difference?

In writing about my trials and tribulations with Windows Vista on my production PC over the summer, I summarized my situation in a blog entitled “Time for a new motherboard?” on September 20. By the beginning of October things with the system had quieted down enough, thanks to switching to a single-vendor security solution (PC Tools Spyware Doctor with Antivirus, plus the PC Tools Firewall, and their ThreatFire behavioral malware blocker) and making some other software and configurations changes, that I thought I had the hiccups behing me. I was down to random problems once a week, and went three whole weeks without a single BSOD.

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