It’s been quite a while since I last raved about tech devices here but I’ve recently picked up two reasonably cheap products that have instantly won my heart. Firstly I’ve somehow been surviving with a USB flash drive that holds a laughable 64MB, though admittedly I tend to use some of the spare memory in my 1GB flash mp3 player which can act as a USB drive.
Deciding to remedy the situation I did some research and picked out the 4GB SanDisk Cruzer Counter. The drive is spectacularly sleek with its curved brushed metal housing and a sliding mechanism that completely hides the connector (not just retracting with a hole). The “cruzer” lettering is illuminated in blue to signify activity. And in line with SanDisk’s reputation for fast thumb drives, the speed is fantastic for both reading and writing.
The Contour supports the U3 system for portable applications but my personal preference is to strip that out and use PortableApps which can be run on any flash drive (and even some better MP3 players). This lets you take around your favourite software wherever you go. Much of it is overkill for the average user, but having Firefox with your personal selection of add-ons is one of those things you swiftly wonder how you lived without. And carting OpenOffice and VLC around isn’t a bad idea either.
There is a lot less to say about the second purchase, except to say that I finally got round to buying my favourite keyboard. Logitech’s Wave is the sort of thing you might ignore for its simplicity but its functionality is perfect while remaining uncluttered: quality keys with exactly the right level of resistance, buttons specifically designed for Vista navigation, and a comfortable wrist-rest. I thought it might take me some time to acclimatise to the board’s subtly curved shape (ergonomic but not “split” like some other designs) but it strangely seems almost to guide your fingers to the correct keys. The “downside” is that to buy it standalone it is only available wired (the wireless version comes with a fairly average logitech mouse) but for a desktop machine there is little reason for the keyboard not to be wired.
Online the SanDisk Cruzer Contour retails for just under £20 and the Logitech Wave (corded) is available for around £35. Neither is the cheapest option, but nor are they outrageously priced, and the combination of excellent functionality and build quality coupled with pleasing design is exactly what I like to see in my tech gear.