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Appeared on: Friday, February 10, 2006
Memorex Mega TravelDrive


1. Introduction

It was back in 1971 when Memorex made its first steps in the consumer market, producing high quality recording tapes. Throughout the last 40 years or so since its creation, Memorex has offered a wide variety of storage solutions including recordable media, both CD and DVD, flash media, mini discs, diskettes, storage devices such as CD/DVD Recorders, memory sticks, even media cases and labels, and the list keeps getting longer.

In this review, we will have a closer look at Memorex's latest product, the Mega TravelDrive, a USB 2.0 flash memory with 6GB and 8GB capacity.

Memorex's award winning line of portable storage drives expands further with our Mega TravelDrive line of mini hard drive based USB drives. Nearly 20% smaller than existing hard drive based solutions offered by competitors, the Mega TravelDrive truly delivers the best combination of size and capacity.

While the Mega TravelDrive is compact on the outside, it offers an expansive storage space inside. Adding to the drive's visual appeal is the wrap-around blue LED indicator lamp, bringing an extra touch of coolness to this attractive, portable storage device.

The Mega TravelDrive with 4, 6 and 8GB capacity

Features
- HIGH SPEED USB 2.0 compliance for the fastest data transfer speeds-up to 10 times faster than USB 1.1.
- Blue LED Power & Activity Indicator - high-tech look providing information for extra safety in transferring files.
- Backward compatibility for use with computers installed with USB 1.1 ports.
- No specific hardware requirements for use on most computer systems. Uses standard USB ports available on most computers today.
- Plug-n-Play - No installation software or drivers required. Just plug it into your USB port and go. (Applies to Windows Me, 2000 & XP along with Mac OS X or later)
- Windows 98SE Compatible - Windows 98SE requires installing a device driver available for download from the Memorex web site.
- Works between both PC and Macintosh platforms. Allows convenient swapping of files from either system platform (using the FAT32 file format).
- No batteries or power adapters required. Uses power from the USB port and also works with USB hubs.

Compatibility/Capacity
- Windows 98SE/2000/ME & XP
- Mac OS 9.x or higher
- USB 2.0 or 1.1 compatible
- 6GB of storage capacity

Package Contains
- Mega TravelDrive
- Quick start guide
- Carrying case
- USB extension cable

To connect the Mega TravelDrive to the PC, just pull out the USB connector as indicated below:


2. Performance

We tested the performance of the Mega TravelDrive 6GB USB2.0 memory stick, using two well known benchmarking utilities, HD Tach and Sisoft Sandra 2005. All tests were made under WinXP with a USB 2.0 compatible motherboard (Abit A8N Fatal1ty series).

HD Tach Results




Click to enlarge

In the above graph, we have the reading performance in red and blue for the 6GB and 8GB devices respectively, as well as their respective writing performance in brown and dark blue. The reported performance (throughput) from HD-Tach for the Mega TravelDrive devices is not as good in comparison to other USB2.0 sticks we have tested in the past, but their larger capacity possibly accounts for this. Comparing the two devices, it seems performance is faster with the 8GB TravelDrive than with the 6GB.

Sisoft Sandra 2005 SR1 Results

Sisoft Sandra has two sets of tests.

The "File system" which tests how your drive(s) and controller(s) compare to other devices in a typical system:

· Read Test: Buffered, Random, Sequential
· Write Test: Buffered, Random, Sequential
· Seek Test

The "Drive Index" mark is a composite figure representing an overall performance rating based on the average of the read, write, and seek tests, and file and cache size. The Drive Index is intended to represent drive performance under typical use in a PC. A larger number means better performance. The weighting of the results is not equal and represents the distribution of different files sizes as used on these devices (obtained through field research).

Device Drive Index
Mega TravelDrive 6GB 8.0
Mega TravelDrive 8GB 9.0

Adequate performance from both devices with the 8GB being slightly better.

The "Compact Flash" typical usage model for these devices is File operations, such as Writing a file to the device, reading a file from it, and deleting a file. This benchmark exercises the devices in terms of these operations (to measure the “raw” cluster level performance of the device, it is recommended to also test it by means of the File System Benchmark module). The following characteristics are measured for each of the four representative file sizes of 512 Bytes (representing a minimal single data cluster file), 32kB, 256kB and 2MB. The weighting of the results is not equal and it represents the distribution of different files sizes as used on these devices (obtained through field research). For each of the four file sizes, a Combined Index is then calculated, stating the combined performance in terms of Combined Operations Per Second, with respect to a mix of write, read and delete operations.

Combined Device Index: is a composite figure representing an overall performance rating based on the average of the Combined Index figures over the four file sizes. (Higher is better, i.e. better performance).

Endurance Factor: is a figure representing the Wear and Life Expectancy of flash devices; this is obtained by dividing the average performance (normal condition, i.e. sequential write) to the lowest performance (high-stress condition, i.e. same block re-write). It measures the relative improvement of endurance caused by the wear leveling or flash management algorithm; the absolute endurance of a device (i.e. its expected life-time) is directly dependent, in addition to this Endurance Factor, on the nominal manufacturer rating of maximum erase/reprogram cycles, which is typically 100,000+ for SLC and 10,000+ for MLC devices. (Higher is better, i.e. longer life-time for the device)

Device Combined Index Endurance Factor
Mega TravelDrive 6GB 774 25.8
Mega TravelDrive 8GB 2491 28.9

The most interesting thing is the reported Endurance Factor, a value which is amongst the highest we have seen for such devices. It seems that it is a result of the reduced transfer rate, read/write speed.


3. Conclusion

Memorex offers a wide variety of storage solutions including memory sticks like the TravelDrive which was tested in this review. The MEGA TravelDrive impressed, especially with its large capacity, which over the years has become an important factor for anyone who needs a portable solution for data transfer. With 6GB or even 8GB, you now have more space than a DVD, on which to store even a complete DVD9 movie!!!

At first glance, the MEGA TravelDrive looks quite attractive, especially when it is placed in the included small leather case. We are used to great quality products from Memorex, and the MEGA TravelDrive is no exception. Memorex warrants this product against defects for one year from the date of original purchase.

When it comes to performance, the MEGA TravelDrive reported a satisfactory read/write transfer rate. What got our attention however, was the fact the reported endurance factor in Sisoft Sandra, was the highest we have seen for similar devices. And don't forget, we are talking about a device that offers 6GB and 8GB capacity. A Mini TravelDrive for example with 1GB capacity is much faster, but with 1/6 or 1/8 capacity and not as reliable, at least based on SiSoft Sandra's endurance factor.

At the time of this review, the suggested retail price from Memorex was US$149.99. Keeping in mind the capacity of the TravelDrive, the price is rather good, when compared to most 4GB Flash Memory devices on the market costing over US$200.

- The Good

- High endurance factor in Sisoft Sandra tests
- Stylish design, compact dimensions
- Includes USB2.0 extension cable
- Uses both USB1.1 and full USB2.0 interface
- Great Price

- The Bad

- No password protection
- Limited performance


Retail Package
Design/Build Quality
GUI/Use
Performance
Value For Money


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