The market for USB flash memory devices is overcrowded. Though some manufacturers try to stand out with questionable styling, small size, or security features, memory manufacturer Crucial Technology took the opposite approach with its Gizmo Overdrive: mediocrity. It's inexpensive, but by no means the cheapest; small, but not tiny; good looking, but not chic; and it offers encryption software, but only if you want it. The simple Gizmo Overdrive stores your documents without getting in the way.
The drive is 2.8 inches long, 0.7 inch wide, slightly more than 0.25 inch thick, and it weighs just 0.3 ounce, making it roughly the same size and a little lighter than a five-stick pack of gum. Though the Gizmo Overdrive does not come with a keyring, it does have a necklace-length detachable lanyard. The shiny, black-plastic drive has a small red light that flashes when the drive is in use and a cap that's not attached (and therefore is likely to be lost).
The Gizmo Overdrive comes with StompSoft's Portable Vault encryption application preinstalled. Upon running the Windows-only Portable Vault executable off the drive for the first time, users must set up their own password-protected "vault" and password hint. Once a password is set, dragging files or folders to the Portable Vault window initiates the encryption process, which is fast for small text documents but can take significant time and processor resources for larger ZIP archives or multimedia files. Users can customize access to documents on the Gizmo Overdrive by creating multiple vaults with different passwords.
The Gizmo Overdrive is supported by most recent versions of Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux operating systems. Crucial claims the USB 2.0 Gizmo Overdrive has a write speed of 13MB per second, though our unscientific test (we averaged the time it took to copy 886.15MB of text documents, spreadsheets, music, and movies to the key three times) showed a still sprightly actual write speed of 10.8MB per second.
As of August 2006, the Gizmo Overdrive comes in capacities of only 512MB and 1GB. Our 1GB model sells for about $53, or just 5 cents per megabyte. Though that sounds inexpensive, other higher-capacity USB flash drives, such as the 4GB SanDisk Cruzer Micro, can be found online for as little as 2.5 cents per megabyte. If you need a fast USB flash drive, don't need high capacity or a keyring, and have a bit of extra cash to spend, consider the Crucial Gizmo Overdrive.