Yeah, I know what you're thinking: "Why the hell is Rory claiming the USB key is the Greatest Gadget of the 21st Century? This man drives Ferraris for breakfast and lounges in Jaguars for lunch. This thumb-drive article must be the result of a contractual obligation to provoke reader reaction and drum up support for a pathetic device that would otherwise fall at the first hurdle in CNET UK's marvellous Greatest Gadget face-off."
Well let me tell you -- you couldn't be more wrong if you tried. I live and breathe the USB key every minute of every day. When I wake up, I'm thinking, "Where's my USB key?" When I go to bed, I'm thinking, "Where's my USB key?" When I'm with a beautiful woman, I'm thinking... well, that's a story for another time. But, when we go our separate ways, I'm thinking, "Where's my USB key?"
Of all the gadgets in our tournament, it's the one I rely on the most and the one that has proven time and time again to be more indispensable than any other created in the 21st century.
Thumb drives have so many uses. They allow us to carry personal documents from machine to machine with ease, and to boot entire operating systems in seconds. They also make fantastic gifts at tech-industry parties when manufacturers are too cheap to provide a goodie bag. Everybody loves them and everybody uses them every single day.
Forget about the other contenders in the tournament. We can do without robotic toys -- they're all rubbish anyway. There are countless alternatives to the iPod and, when it comes to games consoles, the world has always had plenty to choose from.
The USB thumb drive, on the other hand, is irreplaceable. Without it, we'd all be correcting bad data sectors on floppy discs, lugging DVDs around in a satchel, breaking out tape drives and crawling back into the primordial ooze to die.
Forget the iPhone, the Xbox 360 and the JVC Everio camcorder. The greatest gadget of all time is nestling quietly in one of your USB ports as you read this. Give it the respect it deserves. Give it your vote.