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Verbatim Unleashes the Smallest USB Drive Yet

Flash MemoryHawksM25 August 2011

As laptop computers get thinner and thinner and computer chips get smaller and smaller, USB drives seem to be also a part of the disappearing race. Earlier this summer, Verbatim unleashed two ultra-tiny USB devices, the Store’n’Stay and Tuff’N’Tiny. When shopping for the perfect mini drive, you can compare the two to see which might better fit your needs.

USB drives, also known as jump drives, flash drives and thumb drives (because they’re about the size of a thumb) are widely known to be secure, compact and easily transportable devices to store and transfer data. Most USB devices hold between 2 GB and 64 GB of information, and the capacity you choose will depend on what sorts of files you are moving. For video games, graphics or other large multimedia files, the bigger the storage capacity, the better. For everyday files like documents or low-resolution images, a smaller capacity would work just fine.

So, small is standard for all USB drives, and that’s part of the nature of them. However, “thumb drive” doesn’t even accurately describe the new generations of USB sticks anymore because like many turns of phrase, something new has come along to turn it on its head. The Verbatim Tuff’N’Tiny USB is the smallest USB on the market now, and not even the size of a thumb – in fact, it’s not even as thick as a penny nor as wide as a dime. This puppy is seriously small, and might better be nicknamed the “penny drive.”

Penny-thin, travel-tough and water-impermeable, the Verbatim Tuff’n’Tiny USB drive fits on any keychain, in pockets or wallets and is tailor made for those who are constantly on the go and need something that can travel lightly with them. It is not, however, probably so great for children or people who tend to lose things since it is barely an inch by a half-inch in size.

Like that old catchphrase, the Tuff’n’Tiny may be small, but it is mighty. Durable, rugged and resistant to dust, water and static, this device is made to go places and last. In fact, it has a lifetime limited warranty and fared well in torture tests, including having a brick dropped on it. The reviews have been generally positive as to overall durability, and of course, it is revolutionary in its physical size. The Tuff’n’Tiny fits in all standard USB ports and is compatible with Windows, Vista, Mac and Linux. It is offered in different colors in sizes of 2, 4, 8, 16 and 32 GB, and offers password security.

Now how much, you say? Well, for such a little work of art, the price is not necessarily any higher than other typical flash drives. The 32 GB Tuff’n’Tiny goes for $97.50 straight from the Verbatim website, with the 2 GB costing only $9.75.

For comparison, Verbatim has another super small flash drive on the market with a different marketing angle. The Store’n’Stay is not as superhumanly tiny as the Tuff’n’Tiny, but is still no bigger around than a dime. Its shape is different, made with the person on the go still in mind, but this time, the perk is that you can easily keep the drive in your computer as you pack it away in its carrying case, snag free.

This device is perfect for those forgetful folks who might not remember their flash drive is in the laptop before hurriedly packing up and jetting out of Starbucks. And this one comes in three sizes: 4, 8 and 16 GB, ranging in price from $19.99 to $59.99, with the same general fine print as the Tuff’n’Tiny.

So whatever your personal preference for almost unbelievably small USB devices, Verbatim has a few to choose from that you can tuck happily away in your pocket, wallet or keychain. Size it up and see.

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Lasting Forever: The New Standard of Digital Storage?

UncategorizedHawksM20 August 2011

Are you the type of person who sits around and wonders what future humans or aliens will think of our society hundreds of thousands of years from now, the way present archaeologists ponder over pottery shards from ancient cultures now wiped out by the dust? Or do you just prefer to make sure your belongings are safe and sound for the time span of your life, and possibly your children’s?

Well, if you are either of those types, you may be interested in the Milleniata Millenial Archival Disc, or M-Disc for short. It’s fairly new to the market of writeable storage discs, and in fact isn’t quite released yet, but with a tagline of “Write Once, Read Forever,” the Milleniata company is touting the M-disc as a storage disc that will last until eternity ends – or, at least for the next 1,000 years.

The M-Disc looks roughly about the same as a regular DVD, except that it is transparent, and it holds about the same as a typical DVD – 4.7 GB. Yet, unlike a regular DVD whereby information is “burned” onto the surface of the disc, an M-Disc uses a “synthetic, rock-like” layer onto which data is “etched” rather than “burned.”

Milleniata claims that the M-disc is not prone to natural decay or corruption like other DVDs or CDs. The reason for this is because most DVDs use organic dyes and lasers to burn data onto the surface, while M-discs supposedly create “pits,” or holes that are permanently embedded into the physical layers of the disc, thus the etching. The Naval Air Warfare Center conducted some tests on M-Disc resiliency, in which the M-Disc was subjected to conditions much like being at sea or in combat, including 85 degree Celsius heat and high humidity with penetrating sunlight, and throughout all these trials, the data stored on the disc was generally preserved without damage.

The best metaphor for the M-Disc is the idea of carving words and images into stone, much like our ancestors once did. Whether early humans intended their carvings to be preserved for millennia for the pleasure of current-day scientists may never be known, but Milleniata is hoping that you have this intention – or that you wish to preserve your data for more than the average 5-10 year life span of most CDs, DVDs or USB sticks.

But what about if or when data disc storage goes the way of floppy discs? Well, I guess we’ll just have to keep up with the times and hope that at least one rogue DVD player makes it into the distant future for the next generation of humans to discover, supposing the M-Disc craze catches on.

Next question: how much is it, and do you really want your files to last forever? One M-Disc is estimated to be about $7, more than an average CD-R or DVD-R. In order to etch data onto an M-Disc, you will need an LG-Super-Multi Drive or an M-Writer, which costs around $145. However, once you have a disc with information on it, it can be played on any DVD or Blu-Ray player. As for whether you want your files to be stored in literal permanence, well, that’s up to you. And large companies or government databases, the ones most likely to want long-lasting storage, would need a whole lot of these little guys.

Last week we talked about GE’s holographic disc and its potential capacity to store 500 GB information deep in its 3-D crevices. Now how about if the indestructible M-Disc mates with the HVD to create a super-invincible mega-storage disc?

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The Ins and Outs of Holographic Discs

UncategorizedHawksM11 August 2011

So first we had CDs, or compact discs, which were the first optical discs used to store digital data, entering the world around 1979. Then came DVDs, and then Blu-ray discs, and each technology upgrade resulted in the next generation being faster, more sophisticated and capable of storing even more information in one place.

Now the story of technology upgrades in data storage discs has a new protégé to add to the lineage – the holographic disc. While there are some arguments against this new technology going mainstream, including cost-effectiveness and the cumbersome machinery needed to make it work, the main thing holographic discs have to offer is space, and lots of it.

Blu-Ray HD-DVD HVD
Initial Cost of Disc About $18 About $10 More than $100
Initial Cost of Recorder/Player About $2,000 About $2,000 About $3,000
Storage Capacity 25-128 GB 15-30 GB 500 GB
Read/Write Speed 36 MBps 36 MBps 36 MBps

 

 
GE Global Research recently announced (August 2011) its plan to go forward with distribution of its holographic optical storage disc, which can hold 500 GB of information. For comparison, HD-DVD discs can hold 15-30 GB and Blu-ray discs generally hold 25 GB on a single layer disc, or 50 GB on a dual layer disc (the standard for one feature-length film). GE says that their micro-holographic discs have the storage capacity of 20 single-layer Blu-ray discs, 100 DVDs or the equivalent of a hard drive in most laptops. In addition to an unprecedented amount of space for both consumer entertainment and archival use, the recording speed is equal to that of Blu-ray.

GE is not the only one looking to put these mega-storage discs out on the market in the next few months. InPhase Technologies had both a 300 GB holographic optical disc and an 800 GB rewritable disc with data transfer rates of 80 MBps planned for release, but the company dissolved before the products could be put on the market. Under new management now, InPhase could be competition for GE, touting technologies that boast a transfer speed of 20MBps, or almost 5 times that of Blu-ray.

So what makes the HVD (holographic versatile disc) so special? While CDs, DVDs and Blu-ray discs can only store information on the surface of the disc, HVDs utilize the entire disc’s storage space by storing and reading information in 3-D holographic patterns at all levels of the substrate. The disc is the same size and shape of a CD, DVD or Blu-Ray, but can store data at much deeper levels, in 3-D patterns throughout rather than just the top four surface layers.

GE even hopes to create an HVD that can store up to 1 Terabyte (1,000 GB) of data. In other words, it would have the storage capacity for all the X-ray films in a large hospital on one disc.

So what do you use to play these discs? GE remarked that the HVD players would be very similar to CD and DVD players, and would be able to read CDs, DVDs and Blu-ray discs.

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