Corsair Flash Padlock USB memory drive review

I cannot recall ever seeing a larger USB memory drive than the Corsair Padlock, and I’m not referring to the meagre 2GB capacity either.

Nope, this is quite the most humungously huge device around. To think of it as a thumb drive you would have to have hands the size of King Kong.

But if you did then you would run into trouble as soon as you tried to access your data, because you actually need fairly nimble little fingers to press the buttons on the numerical keypad.

Err, yes, you read that right. This USB stick has a numerical keypad built-in to the casing, hence the "padlock" name and the size of the thing.

It is the unique selling point, and id truth be told does make for an eye catching display on the shelf. In the hand, or connected to your PC, the appeal starts to fade a little though.

Not least because the combination of size, and to set the record straight it measures 82 x 23 x 14mm with the cap off and weighs in at 26g, and that key pressing requirement just do not mix with a standard USB connection. Plug it in and try to enter your combination number and it becomes a seriously wobbly affair.

Once you have worked out that you don’t need to plug it in, and can enter your PIN before attaching it to the PC, you have 15 seconds to connect it if you want Windows to see the drive at all.

Not that it really matters, because unfortunately from the seriously secure perspective at least, there is no limitation to the number of such attempts you can make.

Which does mean you will probably be wanting to opt for something longer than the 4-digit type PIN you are used to with your credit card for example. The padlock does accept up to 10-digit long codes, but that could not only be overkill it could also be murder trying to recall the darn numbers unless you are Carol Vorderman.

Thankfully, to avoid the chances of ending up with a big lump of Lego without the lumps, Corsair do have a PIN registration website that users can take advantage of and which provides a PIN code recovery system.

It is something of a gimmick, to be honest, but at least it does provide a different angle of attacking the problem of data protection on removable drives such as these. It is also something that pretty much everyone can associate with, and as such makes a good device for the less geeky members of the family and so might be worth thinking about as birthdays come around.

Who wouldn’t be hypnotised by the flashing red and green LEDs that fire up as you press a button (powered by an internal 3V lithium battery in case you wondered) or plug the device in to your PC? The fact that the authentication is totally self-contained, so no drivers to be installed and no complex encryption concept for the user to get their head around really does help in the making a normal user more secure stakes.

The more technologically aware will probably be put off by the small capacity, 2GB really is rather on the skimpy side when other devices are packing 16GB. And talking of skimpy, the data transfer rate could do with a bit of speeding up as well. Having tested dozens and dozens of USB memory sticks over the years, the padlock proved to be the slowest to hit my desk in recent months.

Verdict

Too big, too small, too slow to really compete at the cutting edge of secure USB memory stick design, but for the non-techy user it makes a really cool, thoughtful and affordable gift.