Featuring the same great capacities as the Kingston DT150, Kingston's newest Data Traveler 200 flash drive includes a retractable USB connector, increased storage capacities and a slick new look making it hard not to recommend to anyone looking for a new flash drive.
Needing no introduction, Kingston Technology has a variety of USB flash drives to suite various capacity and performance needs. Can they refresh their products successfully with improvements as competitors inch closer to Kingston's market-share? Kingston certainly thinks so with it's introduction of the new Data Traveler 200 which offers users access to both a password secured and publicly accessible zone. Read my full review to find out how Kingston could have possibly improved their highly acclaimed Data Traveler 150 USB flash drive and how well their password protection really works.
Available in either blue and black (32GB), yellow and black (64GB) and utter pitch black (128GB) depending the capacity chosen, the Kingston Data Traveler 200 (DT200) comes with color choices that should appeal to the majority of computer users. After all, how often do people really complain about the color of a flash drive when the on-board capacity is so humongous?
Compared to the Data Traveler 150 (DT150), the DT200 does not feature a cap that snaps on the back of the flash drive and is built somewhat bulkier than the DT150 meaning that you won't be able to fit two DT200s or one DT150 and one DT200 next to each other on adjacent USB ports. While the DT150 embodies a single-cast metallic like case, the Datatraveler 200 consists of two parts, the inside plastic case and the outside plastic case which features a rubber-like paint that helps in using the drives most valuable feature of all, a retractable USB connector design similar to that of Sandisk Ultra Backup that allows users to store the integrated USB connector safely within the Datatravelers main chassis by sliding the outside case over the USB connector. Sliding the USB connector in and out of the shell can easily be achieved since the grip offered by the rubber-like paint allows a good amount of force to be applied single-handedly.
The drive comes pre-formatted with a FAT32 file allocation table which is supported on Microsoft Windows, Linux and Apple OS X platforms. The total free space available to the user is 32,059,752,488 bytes (29.8GB) and 1,572,864 bytes (1.50MB) are preallocated to the PasswordTraveler application and user manual located on the drive.
Durability & Compatibility
The drive itself is not the most rugged design I have ever encountered but it did manage to stand up to a full two weeks of carting around the office without damaging the casing. I did, however, encounter a rattling after some use whenever the USB connector was retracted back into the Data Traveler 200 shell but unless you were probing for any damage you probably would not find it and is somewhat acceptable given the restrictions of the mechanical components of a retractable USB connector.
Regarding compatibility, the Datatraveler 200 will work as a basic mass storage class device in OS X and Linux with full access to the public zone but PasswordTraveler is inoperable and the private zone in-accessible.
Encrypting Your Data Traveler
PasswordTraveler software allows you to split the main flash drive partition into one publicly accessible partition (public zone) and one private password-protected partition (private zone). While this software has been featured on Kingston flash drives in previous generations it has undergone quite some aesthetic redesigns and is generally more user-friendly. Unfortunately it is still only password level protection with no true encryption algorithm securing your data.
Starting up the PasswordTraveler software found on the flash drive you'll first be greeted by a initial setup screen to resize / repartition the flash drive and set a password to allow access to the private zone. Thankfully no administrative privileges are needed to launch or access your private zone.
If you should chose not to set up a private zone on the flash drive initially then initializing the private zone at a later date with PasswordTraveler will cause the flash drive to be completely reformatted instead of the software simply reclaiming any unused space from the gargantuan 32GB of storage space. The PasswordTraveler software also features options to reduce the steps needed to log in or out of the private zone via various confirmation windows which makes general use of the software a bit more pleasant.
Once your private zone is sized and password protected the only way you will be able to access it is via the PasswordTraveler software itself. The private and public zones are not accessible simultaneously meaning that you will have to decide ahead of time what you plan on uploading to the drive and to which zone. Browsing your private zone in Windows will easily show that your files are protected with a distinct green color on all file detail columns.
Files highlighted in green color shows you are inside the private column.
Another caveat of PasswordTraveler software and one which should be easy enough for Kingston to correct is the limit of 32 characters in the Password hint box. This would allow for users to come up with some more creative password combinations instead of just relying on a phrase or question limited to 32 characters.
Once you are done working on your private zone you can log out at any time via the shortcut placed on the private zone of the drive. Prematurely removing the drive from your USB port while logged into the private zone will reset the drive back to accessing only the public zone. No desktop or system tray shortcut is available for easier administration of the drive security features.
I also attempted on using the PasswordTraveler software on Kingston's Data Traveler 200 and numerous other competitor drives, however, this software does not support any other USB flash drives other than the one it was assigned to. Personally I am not a fan of having multiple flash drives each with their own little management software running in the background and prefer a open-source approach that does not lock the application to one specific piece of hardware.
If someone were to illegally try and access your private zone then they would have 250 attempts to log in with the correct password otherwise all data on the drive would be erased.
Based on the Kingston product page, PasswordTraveler will not cooperate with Windows Vista Readyboost which makes support for Readyboost a moot product feature when you can't even utilize it alongside the Datatraveler 200's security features, likely because Readyboost requires continuous access to the flash drive that, if interrupted, could cause data loss.
All benchmarking was performed on an Intel-based USB host controller featuring an ICH8 South Bridge and the 32GB flash drive directly connected to the host computer. The operating used was Microsoft's Windows Vista 64-bit including Service Pack 1. I started my testing by measuring the performance between public and private zones but results appeared to be the same with no performance degradation observed during testing. For the purpose of performance testing / benchmarking I used only the public zone. First I proceeded to measure the performance using synthetic benchmarking suite, SiSoft Sandra 2009's Removable Storage benchmark, to assess the drive's theoretical performance as a comparison.
Read speeds peaked at 29.87MB/s for reading large 256MB files and write speeds reached up to 8.53MB/s, slightly below Kingston's stated 10MB/s bearing in mind that some differences in results will occur depending on the operating system and USB host controller used. In my case the read performance shattered even Kingston's own 20MB/s product specifications and matching even the Data Traveler 150 32GB. Unfortunately the performance compared to the Datatraveler 150 for smaller file sizes and write operations offered a larger difference which shows the Datatraveler 150 is probably still the best performer in every category.
As is usual for flash drives the write performance took quote a dive on the smaller file sizes but is nothing to be concerned about since most users really don't use files that only amount to 512 bytes. The sheer read performance this drive does offer is quite impressive, even though slightly less than the older DT150, but for the majority of users this drive has great all-around performance that should please all levels of users.
For my real-world benchmark I utilized Microsoft's own Robocopy tool to copy a 640MB ISO image file to and from the flash drive. The Datatraveler 200 real-world performance matched the SiSoft Sandra performance fairly closely and showed that the Datatraveler 150 was still ahead by quite a large margin based on write performance but read performance was again very similar to Kingston's older Data Traveler 150.
Large capacities at affordable prices
Great read & average write performance
Supports Windows ReadyBoost
Retractable USB connector
Bulky case design blocks adjacent USB ports
No Linux or OS X support with Password Traveler
PasswordTraveler doesn't support competitor flash drives
PasswordTraveler will not operate properly with Readyboost enabled
With a price-tag close to the older Kingston Data Traveler 150 32GB, the Data Traveler 200 32GB is priced slightly higher and features slightly slower performance than it's predecessor which makes it hard to recommend unless the supply of Data Traveler 150s dries up. Even though the Data Traveler 150 doesn't support Readyboost whereas the Data Traveler 200 does, the addition of Kingston's own PasswordTraveler application doesn't justify the increased cost when most users are simply looking for larger capacity and faster performance at a reasonable price. For current owners of the Datatraveler 150, feel comforted that your current flash drive is still offers great competition. For computer users looking at a new flash drive, overall the Data Traveler 200 is hard to fault given the available capacities, performance and price.