The Kingston DataTraveler is like the 1969 Mustang of USB drives; it looks old but has a ton of power under the hood, thanks to its preinstalled U3 software.
We last looked at the U3 bundle in April 2006, and were unimpressed by the included apps—most of them being useless or meant for purchase. This version of the bundle still leaves us wanting more, but we have to admit that it covers the basics. Utilities such as Skype, Trillian, Thunderbird, and Firefox are must-have tools, and they come on the key, which is convenient.
For folks not in the know, the U3 interface behaves like a Windows Start menu in your system tray. You click it to access software, look at the drive’s contents, or adjust settings. Everything runs from the key, so you can plug it into any PC and have all your favorite apps, bookmarks, email, and so forth wherever you go. You can even password-protect the drive, although the contents aren’t encrypted.
The drive itself is rather bland-looking, and is a standard USB-key size. It’s made of plastic, so while we wouldn’t go BASE jumping with it, it held up just fine during our grueling Pocket Test.
Drives like the DataTraveler are a godsend for travelers who frequent Internet cafes, but we don’t think that’s a very common scenario. For normal usage, the DataTraveler is simply a solid key, nothing spectacular.
Month Reviewed: September 2006
+ SCORING: Decent software bundle and good security.