Zero Basic Mini Cooper Drive Review

5 September 2011
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Author: Paul McCollum
5 September 2011, Comments: 0

These drives are obviously made for Mini Cooper fans; the attention to details is fantastic.  Mini lovers may never store files on these but seeing the headlights flash when plugged in is enough to make almost anyone smile. 

Paul McCollum

Fine Details

The level of detail on each of the Zero Basic miniature Mini’s is impressive. Front and rear license plates that read “MINI COOPER” along with headlight and taillights are visible from a distance. Getting even closer, you can see the door handles, windshield wipers and the front grill. The undercarriage is also detail rich, showing outlines of the drive train and spare tyre well.

Probably the most unexpected detail is found on the rubber tyres. The tiny tyres actually have tread on them. The only details notably missing are the side and rear view mirrors. This is understandable as they would almost immediately snap off with even light use. The windows are clear and can see into the body of the car. Sadly there are no internal details to try and squint to see.  There’re about 15 different styles for the Mini’s; in this review, we will cover 3 of them.

Vintage Red Coupe

Mini’s Red and White stripe colors are almost a requirement for the car, with the only exception being the inclusion of a Union Jack logo signifying its English origins. The Red Cooper is the most common color sold in the US barely edging out more popular European favorites. Popular among Anglophiles in many countries, the Red Mini marks a tasteful middle ground between comfort and efficiency. The civility, responsibility and reason that the United Kingdom and other European nations have adopted as a De Facto law in automobile selection.

Mini Cooper flash drive plugged into a real Mini Cooper console.

Mini Cooper flash drive plugged into a real Mini Cooper console.

Honoring the vintage “Vintage Red Coupe”, Zero Basic has embedded 4GB of flash memory into the most recognized version of the Mini Cooper. Perfect in almost every detail, the flash drive can hold any assortment of files. Mini Cooper fanatics can keep their upkeep logs and pictures of their group outings. The highly detailed drive features a retractable USB connector hidden within the Boot. The plug is exposed by pushing a tab on the underside of the car. This forces open the boot, which rotates down and rolls under the car. It would have been nice if this action mimicked the real Mini and opened up. Folding under the car keeps the rear cover from being exposed to torque that might break it off. And yes, if your computer supports, it is boot-able and when unplugged the drive is also drive-able. The wheels are real and can scoot along your desk or floor any time you feel like ‘motoring’.

Racing Rally Car

The small size and novel design of the Mini Cooper came with a very serendipitous side-effect, amazing handling. The new suspension and low center of gravity gave the car amazing handling characteristics. The world famous Monte Carlo Rally in Monaco, with its grueling hair-pin turns and varied surface conditions, became a new home for the Mini Cooper. The Mini Cooper managed to win the rally shortly after its creation in years 1964, 1965, 1966 and 1967. In one of the more famous Mini moments, the 1966 win, actually taking first second and third place, was removed on a very suspicious technicality. The race commission disqualified the winning group due to the type of headlight it used which conflicted with an obscure rule buried deep in the race charter.

A lever on the underside of the drive pushes the flash connector out of the trunk.

A lever on the underside of the drive pushes the flash connector out of the trunk.

As a flash drive, the Zero Basic’s “Racing Mini” model, like the others in the series, has flashing headlights. Presumably included to commemorate the 1966 travesty that broke the multi-year winning streak of the Mini. The headlights light up when the drive has power and flash to indicate drive access. The memory used in the flash drive is of similar economy design of the Mini and a more middle of the road performance. The included NAND won’t be winning any current races but like the Mini, its portability has more to do with its utility than access times. Covered in the original decals, to an insane level of detail, this model celebrates 60′s Rally-Cross legends, “Jumping” Jeff Williamson and Darryl Davis.

Police Car

The enhanced handling and its slender frame made the Mini “Copper” a natural for entry into law enforcement. Able to follow crooks down alleys and walkways allowed it to nearly replace the horse as an urban means of law enforcement. The same year Britain was “robbed” of its win at Monte Carlo, the UK started to fight crime with the Mini, 1966. The bobbies ended up with hundreds of Mini Coopers in service up to the 1970s, not very many Minis compared to the millions produced by BMC and millions more by BMW through today. The nimble Mini inspired two hit movies, well technically the same movie twice. Almost stealing the show from the human stars, 3 Mini Coopers take advantage of their size and handling to pull off an amazing robbery. These movies may have been the worlds best commercial for the fun.

"Police Car" Mini Cooper headlights turns on when plugged into a laptop's USB port.

“Police Car” Mini Cooper headlights turns on when plugged into a laptop’s USB port.

If you want to theme a flash drive’s contents to match its purpose, that can easily be done on the Police Mini drive. Security software and Antivirus software fits in the passenger seat just fine albeit a little slowly. We put the cars into a little data race ending in a speed trap. Here’s what came up on our radar gun. It’s not the slowest drive we’ve ever seen but it won’t be finishing first in any data rallies either. Read speed at 16MB/s is decent but many flash drives are able to muster 5MB/s writes, even the kind that are given away. No one will be getting a speeding ticket with these drives; though, they won’t be winning any races… ever.

Recap

These drives are obviously made for Mini Cooper fans of which there are many. The attention to details is fantastic. They are a little too large and may cramp your style trying to plug them into some locations. The flash memory is also a bit on the slow on the slow side but not much slower than most people are used to anyway. They do seem to be built very well and should hold up to being played with and used for a long time. Even if the rear cover were to fall off, it would take very little away from this very cute flash drive. All in all, just like the car itself, these drives are fun. Mini lovers may never store files on these but seeing the headlights flash when plugged in is enough to make almost anyone smile. Even without the ability to store data, these are reasonably priced just as desk decoration.