Sandisk Cruzer Titanium review

Sandisk Cruzer Titanium 4GB
Image © Sandisk

I'm a heavy USB stick user (a.k.a. flash drive, pen drive, flash disk, thumb drive). I've seen many and use mine a lot. Very few of them impress me. Most are just flimsy thin plastic. Nice for a throwaway lighter, not for a device I save my files to. My main stick used to be a 32 megabytes (yes, MEGAbytes) Freecom FM-1 USB stick, and it served me extremely well.

My old Freecom FM-1 USB stick. Looks pretty beat up, right? Still working perfectly, though.

It's made of plastic, but didn't feel flimsy at all, a bit rubbery actually. It's water tight, which at the time, was not very usual. We're talking 2001 here. It's last me 5 years, which says a lot about its durability. It cost twice as much as the Cruzer Titanium, by the way.

On to the Cruzer. Sandisk calls this stick the Titanium (in case you missed it smiley). So, you'd say it's made of titanium, right? No so. The material used for casting is called "Liquid metal®", and may or may not contain titanium, but it's not solid titanium. Not that it matters. Liquid Metal® is said te be stronger than titanium. Some people deliberately ran it over with a car to test this claim. Me, I just take their word for it. The edges of the stick are shiny like a mirror while the top and bottom surfaces are matte, and appear to be treated surfaces, rather than painted. That's probably why the print holds up like it does.

A neat feat of this stick is the retractable connector. Because of that, there's no cap, and you can't lose what's not there. At first I didn't think you'd be able to insert the sliding connector into a USB port easily without sliding it back into the housing when you have to use a little force. But the sliding mechanism locks firmly into place and keeps on doing so, even after thousands of insertions.

Besides this being the toughest stick I ever held in my hands, it's also the fastest. Most tough sticks have either depressing transfer speeds (read and write), or jaw-droppingly slow access times, or both. The Titanium scores high in all areas. It reads and writes at impressive - though not mind-blowing- speeds, and access time is less than 1 millisecond. I call that mind-blowing.

After about a year's use, the stick looks just like new. There's a mild scratching of the metal case, but it's hardly visible. I can only imagine how an aluminium case would've looked after a year of intensive use, but this Liquid Metal® stuff is holding up extremely nice. It would scare the hell out of the many plastic sticks I use at work.

Update (5-2011): in the mean time, the Cruzer Titanium has lasted me 5 years, and it's still going strong and I'm actually still using it almost daily. My work files have never taken up more than 1 GB, so why get something else? It's still among the fastest USB 2.0 sticks around.

Portable applications

The Titanium comes with a feature called U3 smart. I really tried to like it and actually used it for a month. But it adds very little for me, and the extra drive letter it needs causes a jumbling of drive letters. There are tons of applications that run from a USB stick, and you don't need the U3 system at all for that. Just check to see what's available. There's more, but this is a good start. My absolute favourite is KeePass, a password manager. Closely followed by AbstractSpoon's ToDoList.

By the way, I was using small portable apps on my Freecom stick 7 years ago, long before U3 even existed.

The good points

  • No cap. You can't lose what's not there, right?
  • Retractable connector
  • Literally indestructable metal housing
  • Fast file access (lots of small files per second)
  • Fast data transfer (lots of large files per second)
  • Compact
  • Looks good
  • Did I mention it's fast?

The bad

Now this is nit picking:

  • Not water resistant
  • Bundled clip is nice, but way too tight
  • Susceptible to dust
  • U3 is just plain useless. YMMV.

Portable software

  • - A complete suite of portable software
  • ToDoList - A great and highly customizable list maker tool
  • KeePass - Safe keeping of all your passwords
  • SpeqMath - Mathematics tool for fast not-so-simple-problem solving

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