Freecom USB Memory

Gosh. They just keep making these drives smaller and smaller. Capacity on the other hand keeps getting larger. Freecom’s newest portable storage device fits up to 250GB of data into a 3.2 x 2.3-inch enclosure that makes it roughly the size of a credit card!

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I simply cannot get my head around the engineering that must have been required to cram this much storage into a tiny space thinner than a deck of cards. Using 1.8-inch hard drives, Freecom are able to provide this level of storage in a lightweight enclosure weighing just 80g and best of all, it’s powered entirely by USB.

A small drive like this is expected to be put through some harsh treatment so instead of going for the often found glossy chassis, Freecom have been sensible in its choice of materials by using a rubber synthetic that provides some cushioning for the drive and is easy to keep clean. The only break in the design is the USB port where there is also a blue LED light indicating drive activity and power.

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The drive is plug and play and comes pre-formatted in FAT32 mode for multi-system compatibility. Included on the drive is EasyLock (Windows-only), an application for encrypting files which auto-erase if the password is entered incorrectly ten times.

Performance wise, the Freecom USB Memory holds its own. I performed two tests and compared the transfer times against my FireWire 800 desktop-class drive. The first test looked at transfer times for a single large file followed by a second test which looked at the transfer of 3713 files totalling 771MB.

Freecom USB Memory over USB 2.0
1.17GB single file transfer – 40.8
3713 file transfer – 34.5

Western Digital over FireWire 800
1.17GB single file transfer – 22.7
3713 file transfer – 19.9

(Times in seconds)

Whilst there’s a significant difference in speed between the desktop drive and the Freecom, you have to keep in mind that we’re comparing the Freecom with a 7200RPM drive utilising an 800Mbps connection. Given that context, the Freecom USB drive is no slouch and easily outpaces some of the fastest flash-memory sticks.

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The Freecom USB Memory comes in 120GB, 160GB and 250GB capacities, with prices starting around £80 for the 120GB model. Whilst price per GB is significantly higher than what you would get for your money in the 2.5-inch market, the big difference is that the Freecom will fit in your shirt pocket whereas most would find it awkward to carry the former size in pockets of any size.

2009-10-05 Onwah Tsang

3 comments - why not add yours

  • thizzlema says:

    Credit-card sized? How do they do it?! That’s some serious stuff right there.

    Posted on 27th October 2009
  • Jack says:

    Just as general remark; do the transfer times refer to read or write speeds? Would be useful to state both in future reviews.

    Posted on 5th January 2010
  • techcastoni says:

    @Jack: You’re right in what you say and I’ll definitely make that clearer for future storage reviews. To answer your question, the times refer to the transfer of data from the drive in my MacBook Pro to the Freecom drive. Thanks for reading and for the feedback!

    Posted on 5th January 2010

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