With flash thumbdrives coming in all shapes and designs imaginable, Kanguru takes a different approach with its Flash Drive Max line by packing in the capacity; it starts at an amazing 16GB and goes all the way to a mind-blowing 64GB of ultraportable storage space. Larger and heavier than the typical thumbdrive, it's still very portable. Without a doubt, this is the thumbdrive for people for whom price is no object, because at $800 (for the 16GB version) and $2,800 (for the 64GB version), the Flash Drive Max can cost more than a well-equipped PC. Still, it amounts to less than $50 per gigabyte, which is about what you'd pay for thumbdrives with smaller capacities, so it's not a bad deal overall. That said, thumbdrives are small and easily lost, so you're probably better off with a smaller-capacity thumbdrive, such as Kanguru's own Mini Drive. That way, if you lose it, you're only out 1GB of data and roughly $50.
In an age of tiny thumbdrives, the black-aluminum Flash Drive Max goes against the grain by being thicker and blockier than the competition. Measuring 3.7 by 1.0 by 0.6 inches and weighing 1 ounce, it's about twice as large and heavy as the typical thumbdrive. It's just a tad bigger than a pack of gum. A small green LED on the plastic-capped end flashes to show that data is being transferred. Also on the end cap is a tiny recessed switch, a write-lock that protects your data from being accidentally overwritten, but you'll need a pen point to flick it on or off. The drive ships with a lanyard (the loop is also on the end cap), a plastic cap for the USB connector, a USB extension cord, and a mini CD with drivers and a manual for the drive.
Using the Flash Drive Max couldn't be easier; just plug it into the USB slot of any recent Windows XP or Macintosh computer, and the operating system instantly recognizes it. It also works with old Windows operating systems, as well as Mac OS X 10.15 or higher and Linux kernel 2.4.1 and newer. It sets itself up automatically and can be assigned its own drive letter on several different systems. If your system doesn't automatically recognize the drive, you can manually load the drivers on the mini CD. The 16GB version we looked at came formatted in the FAT32 protocol but can be reformatted as needed. For the security minded, the Flash Drive Max comes with KanguruShield, the company's own password-protection program, but it requires partitioning the memory into public and private sections.
In our anecdotal tests, the Kanguru Flash Drive Max was slower than most other thumbdrives at writing data but a speed demon at reading it. It read our test folder at a zippy 76.4Mbps but slowed down to a sedate 22Mbps while writing. Over the course of a week, we used it successfully with a variety of hubs and computers. And even with prolonged use, the Flash Drive Max never got hotter than warm, which is more than we can say about other keys.
Kanguru covers the Flash Drive Max with a generous two-year warranty (the standard is one year), and provides comprehensive help on its Web site with downloads, FAQs, and tips. On the downside, phone support is available only on weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET, and you'll pay for the toll call.
At $800 for the 16GB version, the Kanguru Flash Drive Max seems more a novelty than anything. Capacity aside, it's a standard flash thumbdrive that offers password protection and good read speeds but slow write speeds. The warranty is generous, but support options are a bit limited, which is disappointing for a drive that costs more than many computers.