The Cruzer Crossfire is pitched squarely at the gaming market but, aside from some preloaded content (a Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones strategy guide), it's not functionally different from any other flash drive on the market. The packaging boasts of the drive's ability to play MP3 music and photos on the Xbox 360, as well as transport "PC game demos, trailers, game saves, etc" from PC-to-PC, but in reality any flash drive is capable of this.
Design & Features
Nevertheless, the drive offers a gamer aesthetic, using the same white and green colour scheme as the Xbox 360. When the drive is connected a green LED springs to action and blinks each time files are accessed. It's definitely one of the more attractive thumb drives we've seen, and can be worn around your neck as a geek merit badge of sorts using the bundled lanyard.
The unit we received for testing was the 1GB (AU$99.95) version, which seems to be the current USB drive sweet spot. However, the product also ships in 512MB (AU$59.95), 2GB (AU$179.95) and 4GB (AU$359.95) flavours. If you're thinking "gosh, that's expensive", you'd be right, considering the fact that the 1GB Lexar JumpDrive Mercury will only set you back AU$79.95. That said, if you plan on using the Prince of Persia strategy guide the package represents good value.
It's also worth noting that the 512MB, 2GB and 4GB versions use a slightly different colour scheme to the 1GB model. You can check out the other drives on SanDisk's website; we think the 1GB drive looks the prettiest.
Unfortunately, unlike other SanDisk USB keys such as the Cruzer Micro, the Crossfire doesn't support U3 -- a software platform that enables you to transport your software, preferences and other data seamlessly between PCs. The big draw of U3 is that all applications run directly from the flash drive, so you can be certain of having access to your favourite programs regardless of what's installed on the host PC.
While it's not U3-compatible, you're still able to run applications directly off the drive, provided that they've been designed with portability in mind. A full list of portable applications can be found here, but keep in mind that installing these is a little trickier than if you were using a platform such as U3.
Like most recent flash drives, the Crossfire uses the USB 2.0 platform, which has a maximum theoretical throughput of 60MB/sec (60,000KB/sec). However, real-world speeds are only a fraction of this, with USB keys rarely breaking the 30MB/sec (30,000KB/sec) barrier.
We tested the drive by recording read and write speeds using 32KB, 256KB, 2MB and 64MB files, which are typical of file sizes that are most often copied to flash drives. We recorded read/write speeds of 11287/128KBps, 16798/939KBps, 17613/2833KB/sec and 17476/8738KB/sec respectively. To put these results into perspective, this makes the Crossfire the second fastest USB flash drive we've tested. It's still quite a bit behind Lexar's JumpDrive Lightning, however.
Its high price and lack of U3 support is disappointing, but if you're looking for a basic flash drive and have any interest in the bundled Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones strategy guide, the SanDisk Cruzer Crossfire is worth a look.