It doesn’t take a genius to predict that over time, gadgets will be cheaper compared to their predecessors, and they’ll have improved performance as well. And that’s basically what Ars Technica’s 5-page 2009 flash drive roundup reveals: today’s flash drives are cheaper and perform better compared to the ones available in 2005. So is the report just a detailed look at the obvious? Yes and no. While the conclusion is a no-brainer, there are several gems of info that us consumers would do well to take note of, because in this case some brands are really better than the others, if only ever so slightly.
Ars’ Matt Woodward tested 8 flash drives from some of the most popular brands available today: OCZ, Patriot, Corsair, Sandisk, Kingston, SuperTalent, and PQI. The flash drives that were tested are in the $9 – $30 USD range; most of them sell for around $20 USD. As I said above, the long and winding road that Woodward took led him to the not-quite-sensational — but nonetheless positive — generalization: flash drives today are of decent, if not excellent, quality despite their low prices.
But the battle of the brands is no Linux vs. Mac vs. PC, where there’s no clear winner: the flash drives with the fastest read/write speeds are those made by OCZ and Patriot, while the cheap-ass Kingston drive came in dead last in nearly all of the tests. The overall winners in price-to-performance ratio were SuperTalent’s $19 USD Pico-B 4Gb drive and SanDisk’s $11 USD Cruzer Micro 4GB drive.
Sure, such differences may not be that obvious in actual use, but I think as geekier, more informed consumers we should take note of the brands that are not performing as well as their competitors, and support those that strive to come up with quality products. Since non-techies might not have the patience to wade through articles like this (they may not even know of Ars Technica or technabob), we should take this article as evidence enough for us to spread the word around: Kingston = meh.