Monday, July 11, 2011

Lower Than Average Capacity Reduces The Usefulness Of Lexar's 256MB JumpDrive Sport!

The Good: Data is safely stored and easily transported, Durable
The Bad: Low capacity, Reduced ability to tell transfers are complete, Annoying rubber bumpers
The Basics: While the Lexar JumpDrive Sport adequately protects data being transferred between computers, it is more bulky and lacks capacity that will annoy most potential users.

One of the neat things about marrying someone younger who is part of the whole 21st Century phenomenon is being introduced to all of the outstanding pieces of technology that came out after I attended college that are now commonplace. As a virtual hermit, I have little mechanism for meeting others and keeping up with the new technical devices that have sprung up on the marketplace that might not be directly related to my work. So, for example, it was only a year ago I even learned what a flash drive was! Now, with my new wife comes an influx of different flash drives to review (I'm not exactly sure why she has so many!) and the first one that I discovered of hers that I did not like was her Lexar JumpDrive Sport.

The Lexar JumpDrive Sport is a little USB flash drive that comes surrounded by a rubber bumper and cap for added durability and portability. The thing is, flash drives are supposed to be convenient and the cap takes a bit to pull off because of the rubber bumper. So, while this travels exceptionally well in, say, a gym bag, it is remarkably inconvenient when it comes time to plug it into a computer. Add to that, the capacity is well below what most people who are transferring photographs and large files will need, whatwith its 256 MB memory capacity.

For those unfamiliar with flash drives, these are convenient little pieces of computer hardware that essentially act as a portable hard drive. They are a male USB port connected plugged into a very small board and it holds any sort of computer information that can be held on a standard hard drive. Because virtually every computer these days has a USB port (the "U" stands for "Universal!") this becomes a remarkably efficient and easy way to transfer information from one computer to another and to walk around with files. Far more durable than floppy discs and easier to transfer information to than a CD-R, the flash drive is a remarkable piece of technology that makes files portable between computers in a way that is often as easy as clicking a flash drive into a USB port!

The Lexar JumpDrive Sport is a two 3/8 inch long (with cap, over two and 3/4") by 7/8" wide by 1/2" thick piece of plastic that has an opaque red and black shell. Inside is the hardware, well protected by the rubberized sides. One end has a USB interface which plugs into any USB port - it is a standard type of port on computers, the flat-looking interface that is rectangular shaped. The other end has a little green LED that lights up when files are being transferred. Another inconvenient aspect of this particular flash drive is that the loop that allows the JumpDrive Sport to be connected to a lanyard or anything else is on the active end of the cap. Most have the connectors on the back end, which allows users to remain connected to the device while it is plugged into a computer or make it easier to stay connected to the actual device instead of just walking away with the cap!

Whenever you plug the JumpDrive Sport into a computer that has Plug and Play capability (Windows 2000 or above) the computer will register the drive and usually open a window to show the contents of the drive. In Windows, files may be dragged onto the drive or dragged off the drive to copy files to or from the drive. It is seriously that easy. Unlike having to spend minutes loading large files with multiple floppy discs or having the inconvenience of having to find a CD burner for a CD-R/CD-RW, the JumpDrive Sport is literally as easy as plugging in and dragging (or copying) files to it!

The only wrinkle I've found using the JumpDrive Sport, as far as file transfers go, is that my mother's archaic HP Pavilion laptop that is running on Windows 98 does not acknowledge it. There are, however, problematic aspects in relation to the devices overall capacity.

The JumpDrive Sport has only 256 MegaBytes of capacity which means most people will run out of room on the flash drive long before they have all their data backed up to it, especially with graphics or music transfers. The only important functional detail to remember is that if you are plugging it into a PC or other Windows-based system, it must be properly removed from the system using the "Eject" option from the tool bar. Otherwise, some of the files may not open properly. I discovered this the hard way. It is important, then, to not simply jam it in and pull it out. No, it requires a bit more sensitivity than that. You can jam it into a USB port, of course, but the computer has to be prepared for it to be withdrawn, else it will sometimes prevent the files from functioning properly.

The back of the JumpDrive Sport has a green light, an LED. Whenever the drive is being accessed, the back portion of the flash drive blinks, providing a very clear indicator of when the drive is active and when it is not. This is very convenient and helps one know well just how long files are taking to upload from the unit. And it is quick!

In addition to Windows-based systems, the Lexar plugs into USB ports on my MacBook Pro (reviewed here!) and other Apple computers. This means it can be a wonderful interface between any of the music-storing Apple products that have a USB port and a computer, at least for smaller files.

The JumpDrive Sport is very convenient, though because of its small size, it may easily be lost. This Lexar is virtually indestructible as there is a rubber bumper on the outside that keeps it protected from side shocks. It is worth noting, as well, that the JumpDrive Sport comes with a little cap that is much more difficult to remove than any other flash drive I have ever used. The cap is designed to protect the USB plug when it is not in a computer. The cap is kept on the flash drive by the rubberized bumper, so one has to truly pull it (like pulling against a very strong rubber band) to get access. This can be a pain for cramped USB hubs on PCs as well.

The Lexar JumpDrive Sport has one purpose: store information. It does that. I've not encountered any sort of magnetic field that has wiped clear that memory and truth be told, I'm not even sure it's possible. With only 256 MB of storage space, though, it is unlikely to meet most users needs these days, unless they are simply transferring text files.

They are inexpensive enough that if you keep an extra one by your bed with your essential computer back-ups, it's convenient enough to grab in case of emergency, though. But even for those needs, most users will want one with at least a gigabyte worth of capacity.

For other memory cards or USB drives, please be sure to check out my reviews of:
Tribeca Pinkdrive 2 GB
ATP Breast Cancer Awareness Flash Drive
Fujifilm xD-Picture Card (256 MB)


For other electronics reviews, please check out my index page on the subject by clicking here!

© 2011, 2009 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.

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