PNY Attache Flash Drive - Function Succeeds but Form Fails
Mar 13, 2011 (Updated Mar 13, 2011)
Review by DrFaustus
Rated a Very Helpful Review
Pros:performs its data storage duties as well as it needs to
Cons:horrible case design
The Bottom Line: If all you need is something to store and transfer your data, this'll do okay. If you want something to do that without frustration, look elsewhere.
This probably dates me to a very specific era - I remember back when I was in college, a typical student's most valuable possessions always included a stack of three-and-a-half inch floppy disks. Most of us didn't have our own computers in our dorm rooms, but me managed to get by with the various computer labs in basements scattered throughout the campus. Throughout the days and weeks that typical projects and papers called for, we'd likely have to work on as many as a dozen different computers, depending on how many people were taking up space in the lab at any given time, so we needed a place to keep those project files in progress. Cloud storage? File servers? Google Docs folders? Nope. We were living in a much more primitive time, and we had to make do with those little magnetic disks.
Recommend this product?
And of course they were riddled with problems. Forget that you had put a floppy disk in your back pocket and sit down too hard? Set a floppy on top of some cheap, poorly shielded stereo speakers? Pull the disk out of the computer too fast and bend the little plastic sliding door that protected the magnetic disk inside? Leave it sitting out in the hot sun all afternoon? Pretty much anything could ruin one of those old floppy disks along with several weeks of term paper work if you weren't careful.
Today's college students have it so much easier with their USB flash drive to store everything. They're rugged and durable. They're compact and easy to stow away. And they amount of data they can hold is more than the college-aged me could possibly have ever imagined. This 8 GB PNY flash drive that I recent bought holds roughly the equivalent of five thousand, five hundred 3.5 inch floppy disks.
And overall, flash drive technology has gotten to a point that, barring a bad batch of memory chips at the manufacturing plant, any brand name flash drive that you buy is just going to work. You don't have to worry about data degrading on its own. If data you've saved on a flash drive gets corrupted or lost, it's highly likely that you yourself screwed something up, not the drive. The electronic components of a flash drive are pretty much standard across the board. The only practical difference from one manufacturer's drive to another is the metal or plastic housing that surrounds those electronic components. And that is where PNY screwed up with the latest version of the Attache flash drives.
PNY's Attache flash drive is a standard sized flash storage device about two inches long, three-quarters of an inch wide, and a half-an-inch thick. The exterior is a sturdy black plastic, with a clear plastic sliding cap on one side that can be pulled back to expose the USB plug. It's nice that PNY designed the cap as an integrated piece permanently attached to the stick so that it'll never be set aside and accidentally lost, but the locking mechanism to hold that sliding cap in place is so tight as to render the cap a joke.
Sliding the plastic cap back, into the "open" position so that you can insert this flash drive into your computer is simple enough. It's sliding the cap back into the "closed" position that's a Sisyphean exercise in maddening frustration. There's a raised plastic tab underneath the cap that's supposed to keep it from sliding open accidentally, and that bit of plastic stick up high enough that fingers alone cannot push the cap past it. A little bit of checking has shown that this isn't just an isolated manufacturing error, but rather a problem that is plaguing plenty of users.
Granted, having the clear plastic cap stuck in the "open" position doesn't affect the drive's ability to store and transfer data, but it is rather annoying. Determined to find a way to get that cap to work the way it was intended and slide into the "closed" position, I found that if I jammed a kitchen knife under the plastic cap, I could lever it up enough to slide the cap over that plastic tab and finally slide the cap back to the "closed" state. But of course, the next time I slid back the plastic cap to expose the USB plug and use the drive, it was impossible to slide the cap back closed, so I had to reply on that kitchen knife once again. Eventually I managed to used the knife to pry hard enough on the cap that I was able to crack it just a bit and give the cap a little wiggle room to slide over the plastic tab. The cap mechanism finally works right, but had to physically break the casing to get to that point.
As a flash storage device, the PNY Attache drive does its job as well as could be expected. I've moved more than a few files onto and off of it with no problem whatsoever. But PNY and the other major flash memory drive manufacturers have been around long enough that the electronic functionality of their dives can be taken for granted. The companies should have enough resources to design a casing for their devices that doesn't drive the customers past the point of frustration. Hopefully the next time that PNY redesigns their plash drives they'll create something a little more user friendly, because if this were offered to the college-aged me as an alternative to the old floppy disks, he might just stick with what he already had.
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