Lexar gives new meaning to the term thumb drive by installing a fingerprint scanner in a USB flash drive, allowing you to protect documents and sensitive Web site login information. Forget carrying around a scrap of paper with usernames and passwords. With a swipe of your finger on the JumpDrive TouchGuard, you can log in to up to 200 Web sites.
The Lexar JumpDrive TouchGuard isn't the smallest USB flash drive we've seen, but a number of design features make up for its size. The drive is wrapped in a rubber strap that does double duty: First, it keeps the cap with the drive, so you don't have to worry about losing it. Second, when you lay the drive on its flat side, the rubber strap grips the desktop, allowing you to easily slide your finger over the scanner without having the drive slide around.
The Lexar JumpDrive TouchGuard comes loaded with software and drivers, so you don't have to install drivers on each computer you use. You will, however, have to install the software on at least one computer to use the Auto Login feature, which automatically fills in your username and password and logs you in to registered sites.
The TouchGuard allows you to register up to 200 Web sites and 10 fingers, or ostensibly, one finger each for 10 different people. Unfortunately, everyone who is registered on the same device has access to all of the sites that are saved, which means you should carefully consider who you want accessing your e-mail and bank accounts before adding someone else's fingerprint to the device.
Other features include a My Favorites list, which allows you to import your Favorites list from your browser, and an encrypt/decrypt function that fingerprint- and password-protects files using 256-bit AES encryption on either the host computer or the drive itself. The JumpDrive TouchGuard also functions as a standard USB flash drive and will show up under the next available drive letter on your computer. You can drag and drop files onto the drive, and a meter on the Dashboard (the TouchGuard's software interface) will let you know how much space you've used. Lexar claims read and write speeds of 12MB per second and 6MB per second, respectively.
Once you've installed the software--a snap, thanks to an installation wizard--and registered your fingerprint, which involves swiping your finger several times, the TouchGuard icon appears in your browser's toolbar. Swiping your finger correctly takes some getting used to because the scanner is small and a bit finicky. To add a Web site to the Auto Login list, navigate to the Web site, type in your username and password, and click the icon. This stores the biometric information on the JumpDrive, and on each successive visit to the site, you can plug in the JumpDrive and either manually navigate to the Web site or access it through the JumpDrive's Dashboard. For users with multiple e-mail accounts from the same Web mail provider, you'll need to access the accounts from the Dashboard; otherwise you may not access the right account. When you navigate to a saved site, the TouchGuard seems to ponder for a moment, then almost magically, your username and password are filled in, and you're logged in. Some sites, particularly those of financial institutions, have coded protections that render the Auto Login feature unusable. For these sites, you can disable the Auto Login feature; the username and the password will be filled in automatically, but you'll have to manually click the login button.
Unfortunately, Mac users and fans of non-IE browsers are out of luck. System requirements include Windows 2000/XP and IE 6 or greater. Capacity is limited to 256MB so far, but Lexar plans to release larger capacities in the future. Lexar sells the drive for $80, which works out to about 31 cents per megabyte, quite inexpensive, especially considering the added biometric functionality.
Lexar supports the JumpDrive TouchGuard with a two-year limited warranty. Tech support is available 24/7 through live Web chat, and there's also support via e-mail and a toll-based phone line, available Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. PT.