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Old November 22, 2007, 07:56 PM
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Masasuka Masasuka is offline
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Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: Vancouver BC
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My System Specs

Default "Reviewer Tryouts" Sandisk Cruzer Micro Titanium 4gb



SanDisk CruzerŽ Titanium USB Flash Drive Review

Price: $49.99 CND Futureshop
Availability: Now
Manufacturer's Part Number: SDCZ7-4096-A10
Warranty: 5 year warranty through Sandisk

Table of Contents

Introduction
1 - Specifications
2 - Packaging and comparison
3 - Product Overview
4 - U3 Installation, and UI
5 - Synthetic Benchmarks
6 - Real world Benchmarks
7 - Conclusion


While USB flash drives are very numerous these days, Sandisk continues to make high quality, and innovative flash drives.
Most people don't put a lot of thought into the flash drive that they're buying, and due to the sheer number of different brands, and styles out there, there are very few reviews of them. While the idea of a titanium coated flash drive is not new, this size, both physically, and storage wise, is.


1: Specifications

Today I'm playing with the 4GB version of Sandisk's cruzer titanium line of USB Flash Drives (UFD). This thing not only looks nice, but should perform quite nicely as well, being from San disk's high end line of drives. One thing I like about Sandisk's high end line of drives is that they list the 'in house tested' read/write specs nicely on the front of the packaging, I just wish that they, and all manufacturers, would list their read/write specs on ALL their products. The specs for this guy are 15MB read/9MB write, I'll put that to the test later on.
o Capacity: 4GB
o Retractable USB connector
o Dimensions: 7.14mm x 19.05mm x 57.94mm (D x W x L)
o Rugged Liquid metalŽ body
o Crush force exceeds 2000 lbs
o Laser etched graphics and finish
o U3 smart enabled
o Loaded with the following U3 compatible PC programs
+ CruzerSync synchronization tool
+ SignupShield password manager
+ SKYPE "Make video calls from PC to PC"
+ AVAST virus scan
o Distinctive Blue LED
o Hi-Speed USB 2.0 certified (backwards compatible with all USB 1.1 ports)
o USB Mass Storage Class Device
o Compatible with Windows 2000 SP4 and XP *
o Certified Windows 2000 and XP *
* U3 functionality only supported on Windows 2000 (SP4 and later) & XP OS
The thing that I really like about the Titanium drives is that they 'can' withstand a crushing force of over 2000lbs. Now, realistically, I'll never see that much force being applied to this thing, however, it is really nice to know that if I'm knocked into a pole on a crowded bus with this thing in my pocket, I don't need to worry about the integrity of the data stored on it.


2: Packaging and Comparison

Not only do these drives look safe, they also look really nice. The laser etched centre framed by the polished titanium looks really sexy.
The device is packaged in your standard, impossible to open without the proper equipment, sealed package. *when will they learn?*

The one thing that I was rather disappointed with was the lack of an actual lanyard, the keyring is there, but the lanyard, sadly, is not. I guess they figured that people would be upgrading from previous versions that had one, and would be moving the lanyard from their old device to the new one.


3: Product Overview

This thing is really small, about twice the size as a standard Quarter. This also shows a nice contrast of the polished - Laser etched Titanium which adds that flare to the product.

Here's another with the Old Cruzer Micro Skin for comparison

Thankfully, this one comes with a nice blue led behind the retract slider, a Very nice change from the ugly green that was on the old cruzers, cruzer minis, and cruzer micros.


Flash drives are not a glamorous gaming item, however, almost everyone uses them, as they have become as synonymous to data transfer as the 3 1/2" floppies. These things are simple to use, fast, and very convenient, making them one of the most popular forms of data transformation, and now coming in sizes of 4-8, and some even up to 32GB of storage space, and the induction of U3 technology (covered later) they are also becoming portable workstations.

One of the things that I personally Love about the Titanium drives, and, now, the cruzer Micros, from Sandisk, is the cap-less design on their Flash drives. Everyone loses the cap, it's inevitable as it will eventually wear down, and fall off somewhere. The worst are the ones that have the lanyard clip on the cap it's self, very convenient for losing your device, data, and, if severe enough, your job... Sandisk's cap-less design employs a sliding mechanism, a soft push outwards, slides the USB plug out of it's casing, until it locks in place so as to prevent it from sliding back into the casing when you try to plug it in to your USB port. A slightly firmer push inward (squeezing the device), then pulling it backwards will retract the USB plug.


4: U3 Installation, and UI

The U3 software loaded instantly, providing a desktop 'icon' that floats in the bottom right of the screen behind everything, except your desktop icons. As well, the U3 software puts an icon in your system tray for easy access from your taskbar. The UI of the U3 software is simple to follow, and mimics the standard windows start menu, making for a very short adapting curve.


Some programs come preinstalled, including the popular, and free, Avast antivirus, Skype, and Sandisk Sync program.
The Add programs menu brings up 3 choices, U3 download center, install from Sandisk U3 Download Central (shown below), and Install from computer.

Both the U3 Download central, and install from U3 Download Central take you to the Sandisk browser. The install link takes you directly to the recommended programs, most of which are free.

The Install from computer sadly only allows you to install U3 Package files that you have already downloaded of Sandisk's, or the producing companies', website.

The U3 Library is rather large, at last count over 300 titles available through the U3 Central, providing sofrtware in a variety of categories, ranging from games to productivity software.

The installation of software is rather simple, simply select the program you wish to download/purchase, and wait. I decided to try Trillian.


One thing that really impressed me was the fact that you could download at roughly 350Kbp/s, a rather nice change from most other auto-update programs. The installation process of trillian was complete before I had a chance to take a screen shot, and is completely automated from the first next you click. Once the program is installed, you are presented with a thank you screen to let you know you're done. All in all, a very well designed UI, simple to use, easy to navigate, and fast.


5: Synthetic Benchmarks

Ahh, benchmarks, the fun stuff. For the synthetic benchmarks I used HD Tach, a standard testing program, I decided to do a quick test in 8MB chunks, only really caring about the read times, as seek times on a flash device are virtually 0ms, and cpu usage is usually never affected as the southbridge/northbridge will take care of data transfers without involving the CPU at all.

First, the testing rig.
For this test I decided to use my old storage rig, it has a multitude of USB ports, and HDD's for testing comparisons.

* Motherboard: MSI K8N Neo2
* Processor: AMD Athlon 3400 Venice
* Memory: Corsair Twinx PC3200 1GB 2X512MB DDR400
* Video Card: BFG 7600GT 512MB
* Hard Drive: 2 x Maxtor Diamond Max 11 200GB IDE
* OS: Windows XP MCE 2k5 SP2
* External HDD : ComStar NAS 320 (plugged into USB for testing purposes)
* Comstar HDD : Comstar uses a Western Digital WD32 for it's NAS drive.

The first tests seem to show an improved burst speed in the titanium, but not much else. I will point out however, the burst speed was able to sustain it's speed until it got to about 2.8GB data transfer. At first, I thought this was a mis read, or a spike in usage from something, so I closed the U3 software, and closed some extra windows running in the background, and tried again twice, and both times got the exact same results.



As you can see, the read speeds haven't really changed much between the old micro, and the new titanium, however, we will see how that holds up in the real world benchmarks. Not much here, the drive performs quite nicely, and looks as though it should be able to pump files of it rather quickly.


6: Real world Benchmarks

To test the 'real world' I took a 2 folders of pictures, one roughly 1gb, and one 100MB, and compressed them, using no compression. This gives me 2 testing platforms, one for a multi file transfer, and one for a large file transfer.
From HD tach's benchmarks, I was expecting the Micro to do well in two small 100MB tests, as well as the sustained 1gb of files test in the read, due to it's improved Burst read speeds.

I started by writing, one at a time, the 100MB folders to each of the drives, simply timing the amount of time it takes to complete, from time of clicking paste, to the time the transfer window disappears, I then proceeded to transfer the 100MB zip file, then the 1gb folder, and finally the 1gb zip file.

The graph below shows the 4 transfers' times in seconds.



As you can see, the new Titanium has a rather impressive write time, with the 1gb of random files transfering to it faster than even the single file transfered to the old Micro drive.

The next graph shows the approximate write speeds of these drives. To get this number I added the 2 respective times together, divided by 2, then divided that into the total size of the files I transfered (1160MB, and 101MB)



I was rather impressed to see that the write speeds didn't fluctuate, this shows that the burst speed in writing was sustained throughout the entire process of writing 1gb of data to the drive. This gives me high hopes for the real world read tests.


For the read tests I did basically the same thing, only in reverse. I set up folders for each of the 4 test drives, and copied the files from the drives to the main HDD, unsurprisingly the two HDD's ended up with virtually identical times as from the write tests. This is due to the fact that the data still has to be written to something, as such, the HDD that I was using as the base was the limiting factor in this case.

The graph below shows the 4 transfers' times in seconds.



Oddly the single file read time of the titanium is higher than that of the cruzer micro. What I did find rather impressive was the 100MB file read of the cruzer titanium, almost 3 times faster than the internal drive. I'm not quite certain what caused the weird speeds like this, but all the findings of this test were duplicated, and triplicated, and, in the case of the 100MB read, quadruplicated.

Once again, I used the same method to determine the read speeds in MB/s as I did for writing.



I'm not sure if this is correct, or not, as it pins the titanium as having a possible read speed of 34MB/s, I tried it writing to another drive, to another folder, from another port, and it always returned virtually identical readings. I'm not exactly sure what caused the incredible read speeds, but again, I duplicated, triplicated, and quadruplicated the findings to +/- 4MB/s read speed.


6: Conclusion

While these things still aren't quite as fast as an external HDD yet, they are definitely making strides in the right direction, and still have a rather distinct size advantage. This guy performed rather admirably for such a small device, and for only 50$ Canadian, it was quite a buy.
Overall I would definitely recommend this to anyone who needs a new UMD, or is looking to upgrade.

Pros
*size
*very sturdy body
*easy UI to use for anybody
*HUGE variety of programs, including favorites like open office, firefox, and thunderbird.
*Steady write speed
*COST! for $49.95CDN it can't be beat
*5 year warranty.
cons
*No lanyard, this thing is so small it'd be rather easy to lose without one.
*Weird read times.
For the seemingly glitchy performance of this drive, and the lack of a lanyard, this gets

Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoyed it.
Review by Dorian Orrick.

Last edited by Masasuka; November 24, 2007 at 03:31 PM.
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