The application that Powerhouse Technologies is charging the hefty fee for is Migo.exe (also available for the iPod), which provides both password protection and a take-your-desktop-with-you, data-sync function. The first time you run Migo.exe, you have the option to create a password and a password hint. If you decide to do this (and you must have administrator access on each computer you plan to use, so you shouldn't do it if you plan to use the service on public computers), you must run Migo.exe from the thumb drive's still-visible, 10MB unencrypted partition each time you use the drive.
The chameleon desktop/data sync feature works well--within limits. It will copy some of the look of your desktop, Internet Explorer settings and favorites, and your desktop and Outlook data into the thumb drive's Synchronized Computers folder. You can pick folders and even specific files that aren't on the desktop, and within Outlook, you can synchronize your in-box, subfolders, contacts, calendars, and tasks. You can also instruct Migo to synchronize only files and folders that have changed within a certain time period, say, 30 days. We were disappointed to find that clicking the option to synchronize your desktop won't automatically sync folders on your desktop, just files; you have to choose folders manually. While the Migo app is running, you'll see a drop-down window at the top of the monitor screen that holds thumbnail images of the desktops you've synced, each with its own name. Click one, and the desktop of the host machine changes to match. To restore the host machine's normal desktop, simply choose Logout from the taskbar or Migo's system tray icon. Unfortunately, Migo works only with Internet Explorer 4.01 or later and Outlook, not Outlook Express. As is often the case, Mac users and those who avoid Internet Explorer are out of luck.
Our biggest problem with the Migo wasn't the software or even the price--it was its write performance. Copying a 400MB folder of mixed files to our 512MB test drive took a whopping 11 minutes, 24 seconds, or about 600KB per second. With password protection enabled, the drive was even slower, taking 14 minutes, 9 seconds, or a slothful 471KB per second. A replacement 1GB model was better, but not much, taking 9 minutes, 5 seconds to accomplish the task. Those are pitiful numbers compared to the 1 minute, 54 seconds/3.7MB per second of M-System's DiskOnKey USB 2.0 Pro and the 1 minute, 49 seconds/3.9MB per second of Verbatim's Store 'n' Go Pro. The Migo was also extremely slow deleting the 400MB folder, taking several minutes, compared to tens of seconds for the other two drives. In light of the Migo's very good 6.5MB-per-second read performance (the 1GB's was 8.2MB per second), these shortfalls are a complete mystery.
Powerhouse Technologies warranties the Migo for one year, the PDF manual is concise and tells you everything you need to know, and online tech support is as good as it needs to be. But no amount of support and software can make up for this product's lack of speed or premium price. You can do better, much better.