PNY's 3rd-Generation Attache Flash Drive: Bulked Up, but Still Solid
Mar 3, 2011 (Updated Nov 21, 2011)
Review by Steven Mrak
Rated a Very Helpful Review
Pros:rock-solid, dependable file transfer devices -- and they keep getting cheaper!
Cons:No lanyard, end of plug exposed by retractable cap, bulky case
The Bottom Line: The latest version of PNY's Attaché line of flash drives is as solid as its predecessors, though I'm not as fond of its capping system as earlier versions.
I was almost headed out the door when I realized that I wasn't taking any "gimmes" to the attendees at my training seminar. I thought to myself, hmmm: what'd be more useful than another coffee mug or a baseball cap? I know: a flash drive! I could put all the data for the training exercises on it and the digital media of the presentations and user's manuals. Such a deal! So I headed to the nearest BestBuy, moaned over their bait-n-switch 7-dollar Kingston 2GB, and picked up a handful of the latest incarnation of the PNY Attaché, in the 4GB size, for ten bucks each (every one on a card marked P-FD4GBATT03-EF). I figure the model number's easy to decode: a PNY Flash Drive 4GB ATTache 3rd-generation model, Extra Fine. Of course I picked up an extra for yours truly...
Recommend this product?
So far this drive's proven perfectly functional on Windows XP, Vista, and 7 - I've even used it on a box running RedHat Enterprise 5 Linux (with the appropriate driver, of course). It's blazing fast on both Vista and 7; offloading about half a GB of files in about eighty seconds (6.25 MB/s); it's faster to read from than write to (like any media). It's slower on XP, prob'ly because I can't figure out which (if any) port on my XP laptop is USB Type 2-compliant.
Physically, the new generation of Attachés is a self-capping design: a clear cap retracts to expose the USB male plug. When returned to the storage position, it has a positive lock in place. The business end of the drive retracts completely, though dirt and moisture could possibly get into the plug. Unlike like early flash drives ("geek bling"), there's no way to thread the case onto a keychain or lanyard. The case measures 2-1/4 inches long, slightly more than half an inch wide, and slightly less than half an inch thick, including the retractable cap. That makes it somewhat bulkier than the previous version, which had a removable cap.
The capacity is stamped on the case so you can distinguish the 4GB version from other Attachés in 2-, 8-, 16-, and 32-GB capacities. As always with flash drives, the capacity isn't truly 4GB, it's 4 billion bytes - somewhere in the neighborhood of 3.9 GB. No big deal, as long as you're made aware up-front: the information appears in the small print on every package. PNY optimizes the drives for USB 2.0, but they remain backward-compatible with USB 1.0 ports (at reduced transfer speeds).
PNY says that the drive is compatible with "most PCs and Macs." I haven't used this particular drive with anything but PCs, but previous versions occasionally found themselves mated to a Mac without adverse effects except a tendency to become somewhat smug.
I've now owned several PNY flash drives, and have yet to encounter a transfer problem with any of them. The cases could be a little more rugged, though: the guts of my first one - a 256MB model - came loose in the plastic case (It's still usable, though), and the keychain loop on my last one (a 2-GB Attaché) came apart after a year or so. That's the opposite of a cheap-o version I got as a giveaway somewhere: the case is intact, but the memory "un-flashed" one day. Unlike that one, I trust a PNY to maintain files safely during transfer and inter-computer copying (even so, I wouldn't use one in a backup system).
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