16GB ExpressCard SSD
PQI has jumped into the SSD ExpressCard space with a 16GB card which offers good speeds and plenty of storage capacity. Allowing for a wider appeal, it also has a mini-USB port, so those without an ExpressCard slot can still take advantage of this new technology. Although read speeds are slightly slower than simular tested units, solid write speeds and the convenience of USB make the PQI an enticing option - even if the hefty price tag may turn some people away.
- 16GB of storage, included mini-USB port, good write speeds
- Slightly slower read speeds than comparable units, no USB cable included
The PQI ExpressCard offers plenty of storage and solid write and read speeds, and the included mini-USB port only sweetens the deal.
If you need a substantial memory increase for your notebook, then most USB flash drives aren't up to scratch, as they offer very limited capacities. The other option is an external hard drive, but although they offer plenty of storage, price is an issue and transporting them if you are travelling can be a hassle; they usually require plenty of desk space due to messy cables.
The new alternative solution is SSD ExpressCards. They are compact, lightweight and can be swapped around and upgraded whenever you like. They also offer large storage capacities of up to 32GB, with plenty of room for development.
ExpressCards claim to provide speed increases too, and we were pleased to learn that the PQI ExpressCard is one of the faster units we've tested. Using an Acer Aspire 4920G-3A2G16 notebook equipped with 2GB of DDR2 RAM, a T5450 1.66GHz CPU and Windows Vista Home Premium, we dragged and dropped a folder containing 397MB of JPEG files from the notebook onto the card, and vice versa. It took just over two minutes (2min01sec) to transfer the files onto the device, which works out at around 3.2MB per second. It's not an outstanding result, but it's the fastest ExpressCard we've tested thus far. The Read speed was slightly slower than similar units taking 36 seconds to drag-and-drop the same files from the PQI to the Acer's hard drive.
Like large capacity flash drives, when inserted into an ExpressCard slot, the PQI sits flush with the edge of the notebook, preventing it from being accidentally damaged, or bumped like a USB flash drive, for example. This is hugely convenient for frequent travellers, as USB drive being damaged because they stick out of a notebook are a common occurrence.
Perhaps the most convenient feature of the PQI ExpressCard is the included mini-USB port on the front. This means you can use a standard USB cable to connect it to a USB port on your notebook, essentially turning it into a 16GB USB drive. This feature is ideal for those who may own an older notebook without an ExpressCard slot; they can still take advantage of this new technology without having to upgrade their notebook immediately. Unfortunately, PQI doesn't include a mini-USB cable in the sales package, but it's compatible with a standard mini-USB cable, so it shouldn't be difficult, nor expensive to purchase one. We ran the same tests using the USB capabilities and achieved slower, though still noteworthy results; a write speed of 2min12sec and a read speed of 31sec - the latter slightly faster using the mini-USB interface.
The biggest drawback to this unit is its price tag - at USD$400 at the time of its release, it definitely doesn't come cheap, and its high cost may turn some people away.
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