Duracell introduces a battery of USB drives…
by Jim Bray
While Blu-ray is the medium of choice for high definition video, it's inevitable that the days of disc-based storage are numbered. Just the fact that the system requires a reader/writer full of moving parts works against it.
What's next for people who still want a physical copy of a title to keep in their library? For people like that, a download just doesn't cut it – especially if your hard drive crashes.
It might be USB drives, those now nearly-ubiquitous little "thumb drives" that have basically taken over for the floppy disk. A Blu-ray can hold up to 50 gigabytes of data, though, so you'd need a honking big USB drive on which to store a movie with audio and video quality equal to the Blu-ray's.
You can get 64 gig on a USB drive now, so it may be only a matter of time before the studios start putting out their product on these, allowing you to once again replace your library from scratch. Incentive for doing this beyond merely being at the leading edge of home theater technology could include the vast amount of shelf space you'd free up, as well as the perceived longevity of a medium whose player won't become obsolete and break down eventually.
At least until the EMP pulse hits…
Well, I'm not convinced we'll ever have the knowledge to make something that doesn't break down, but minimizing the moving parts is a good step in that direction.
USB drives are great for more than just storing movies, of course. You can use them for any type of data you want to store. I move files from my home computer to the one in the classroom in which I teach, and I use them to take music files into vehicles I drive that are equipped with readers.
Lately I've been using one from Duracell, the copper topped battery maker, and while it isn't big enough for a 50 gig Blu-ray, its 32 gig capacity is big enough to store a horrendous amount of tunes, very nearly my entire library of digital music files. It's a great way to ensure you have a tune for every mood and audience.
It's part of Duracell's new line of cool-looking-and-operating flash drives. These unique-looking drives are lightweight and feature a black rubberized housing with a distinct copper ring and a design that is easy to grip and which looks a bit like a Duracell battery. I wonder if that's coincidental.
The drives are available from four to 32 GB capacities, come with a 5-year warranty and are "backed by the quality and reliability of the Duracell brand," according to their PR people
The 32 gig sample they sent is pretty cool – and Duracell says that 32 gig lets you store up to 6400 10 megapixel photos, 16,000 64 Kbps MP3 files and, of course, HD video files – though as with the other claims the number of files you can carry depends on how big the files themselves are as well.
The unit definitely seems heavy duty, and a cool twist mechanism hides and extends the USB part for safe transport (oops, there's a moving part!). It even puts out a ratchet sound when you twist it open or closed. A loop at the top of the drive lets you attach it to a lanyard or key ring.
One thing that could be a drawback is the thing's thickness. Basically a cylinder about half an inch in diameter, it's too big to use with my main PC's USB slots if I have enough gadgets hooked in that I need to use both slots. The slots are just too darn close together.
On the other hand, it slides nicely into the USB slots of the review cars I've had since starting to use it, and it worked great when I tried it with a media server and a Blu-ray player that had only single slots with plenty of room around them.
Duracell says its Flash rugged USB drives are perfect for outdoor activities including construction, automotive, field service, utility, mining and mobile workers, offering plenty of storage (depending on your file sizes), you can use to store, back-up, transfer or share your files.
Prices start at $7.99 Canadian for the four gig version. The 32 gig drive retails for about $30.
Copyright 2012 Jim Bray
Jim Bray's columns are available through the TechnoFile Syndicate.
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