Editor's note: We have updated this review to clarify the product comparisons.
The Memorex Mega TravelDrive bridges the gap between teeny-but-expensive flash drives and larger, cheaper portable hard disk drives. About the size of a large Zippo lighter or a pack of Tic Tacs, the 12GB Mega TravelDrive resembles a flash thumbdrive, but instead of solid-state flash memory, it houses a 1-inch hard drive. Best of both worlds? Not quite. For one, it's quite expensive for the capacity ($150 for 12GB), and our tests showed it to be a very sluggish drive compared to those with 2.5-inch hard disk drives. If you're shopping for an external storage device and size is more important than cost, go for a flash thumbdrive. If a compact hard disk drive is small enough for you, however, go for the more cash-efficient option and choose something like the Western Digital Passport.
The Memorex Mega TravelDrive comes in four capacities: 4GB, 6GB, 8GB, and 12GB, though the physical design of the three smaller capacities differs from that of the 12GB (their inner-workings are the same, however). The 12GB version of the Mega TravelDrive is about the size of a large Zippo lighter, and in fact, with its brushed silver case, resembles a Zippo, as well. The USB connector folds out from the top of the drive and swivels through a range of 180 degrees, so you can squeeze the drive into tight spaces. If you still can't make it fit among your stable of USB-equipped devices, the included USB cable is a huge help. The only feature on the body of the drive is blue LED that flashes during data transfers. The drive ships with a protective silicone case.
The drive is bus-powered and works with both Windows and Mac operating systems. Users of recent OSes should be able to use the drive in a plug-and-play fashion.
CNET Labs' tests showed this drive to be quite slow compared to 2.5-inch drives. It took over 1.5 hours to write our 10GB test folder to the drive (long enough for a nap!), and 26 minutes, 47 seconds to read the same folder back. The 2.5-inch Western Digital Passport took only 20 minutes to write the same 10GB of data and 8.7 minutes to read it back. We believe the Memorex's scores are likely on par with other 1-inch hard drives, but we haven't reviewed any others yet. Compared to 2.5-inch portable drives, we don't see reaping enough benefit from the Memorex's smaller size to overcome the difference in performance.
While the compact nature of the drive is appealing, the relatively high price gives us great pause. At $150 for the 12GB unit ($12.50 per GB), it's a bargain compared to flash thumbdrives. For example, Kangaru's 16GB flash thumbdrive costs a whopping $800 ($50 per GB), while Lexar's JumpDrive Mercury costs about $30 for the 1GB version. On the other hand, a portable 2.5-inch HDD that's about three times the size (hardly large) and at least three times the capacity of the 12GB Mega TravelDrive also costs about $150. For example, the 60GB version of the aforementioned Western Digital Passport costs about $90, or about $1.50 per GB. We have a hard time justifying the price of the Mega TravelDrive (especially given its unimpressive performance).
Memorex backs the Mega TravelDrive with a standard one-year warranty. Toll-free phone support is provided Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. PT. You also can fill out a Web-based form or peruse the FAQs on Memorex's site.