The Good Quick and easy to use; works with a variety of computers; bright LED shows activity; up to 4GB capacity.
The Bad Relies on six-pin powered FireWire port or a bulky adapter that draws power from the USB bus; expensive; heavier than USB key drives; limited to peak 400Mbps data transfer rate; runs hot.
The Bottom Line Kanguru's Fire Flash memory key delivers midrange speeds but is awkward to use and expensive. Unless you absolutely must use a FireWire interface, you're better off with a USB drive.
Kanguru Fire Flash
Kanguru Fire Flash thumbdrive
USB memory keys, or thumbdrives, are becoming so widespread and increasingly inexpensive, it wouldn't surprise us if one day, they were included in boxes of cereal. It was only a matter of time before someone hit on the idea of making a FireWire thumbdrive, and Kanguru has done just that with its Fire Flash drive. While the Kanguru Fire Flash delivers reasonable throughput, it's no speed demon, and it requires either a six-pin desktop FireWire port or a bulky adapter and USB port for power. And at $50 (as of June 2005) for a 128MB drive and $480 for a 4GB model, the cost of Fire Flash is about double that of comparable USB keys. But some people may find the FireWire interface a useful alternative, especially if their USB ports are all occupied.
The plastic-encased gray-silver Kanguru Fire Flash looks like a rounded version of its cousin, the snub-nose Mini Drive, but it's longer and has a six-pin FireWire plug at one end and a large LED at the other end that glows blue when reading and red when writing data. Measuring 3.2 by 1.1 by 0.6 inches, it's bigger than the typical USB thumbdrive, and at 1 ounce, it's twice as heavy, too. It's still small enough to slip into a pocket or a briefcase pouch, and it has a handy clip on it for a shirt pocket. The rounded cap isn't attached to the body of the drive by a leash, so it's prone to getting lost. Like other thumbdrives, Fire Flash stores its data on solid-state flash memory chips and can take a 1,000-g shock without damage. The Fire Flash comes in six capacities: 128MB, 256MB, 512MB, 1GB, 2GB, and a generous 4GB.