Kingston DataTraveler Ultimate GT review

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THE GOOD: The Kingston DataTraveler Ultimate GT flash drive has unprecedentedly high capacity and fast copy speed. The drive is rugged and includes a five-year warranty.

THE BAD: The drive is expensive and too bulky to fit directly in most USB ports. It doesn’t have a USB-C connector and doesn’t support encryption to protect data in case of theft or loss.

THE BOTTOM LINE: Kingston’s DataTraveler Ultimate GT is a fast thumb drive with cavernous storage, but it doesn’t justify its outrageous, over-the-top price.

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The Kingston DataTraveler Ultimate GT is more of a statement than a practical storage device. For the first time, a thumb drive — a little storage device you normally get for a few bucks and plug directly into your computer — has more storage space than most computers and costs $1,000 or more.

Indeed, the GT is available in the US in 2TB and 1TB capacities, which currently go for about $1,600 and $1,000. It’s not yet available in the UK or Australia, but those prices convert to around £1,300 and £825, or AU$2,125 and AU$1,330, respectively.

To put things in perspective, the highest capacity iPhone 7 Plus has just 256GB of storage — about a quarter of 1TB — but the phone costs just $969. There are also high-capacity ultraportable hard drives, like the Samsung T3 or the Glyph Atom, which are themselves considered expensive, yet they still cost much less than this Kingston memory stick.

In short, despite its high capacity and fast performance, if you pay full price for the GT, I’d think you’re crazy. Other than that, you’ll probably love it.

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The bulkiest little drive

Calling the Kingston DataTraveler Ultimate GT a thumb drive is a bit of a stretch. Though it looks and works like one, it’s much larger than you’d imagine. Literally, it’s about the width of my big toe but twice as long. Overall it’s about three to five times the overall size of a typical USB thumb drive, or roughly the same total volume as those compact, portable hard drives I mentioned from Samsung and Glyph.

The GT is so bulky that if you plug it directly into a thin laptop sitting on a desk, the drive’s girth will lift the laptop off of the desk surface. And on a desktop, it will definitely block adjacent USB ports. To make sure you can use it everywhere, Kingston includes an extension USB cable with it, which defeats its purpose of a convenient storage device that you can just plug right in.

Kingston also includes a little pouch with the GT that you will likely need. This is because it doesn’t have a hook for you to attach to a key ring, like many other thumb driveshave, which would be a bad idea anyway since the drive is rather heavy.

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No USB-C, no encryption

Out of the box, the GT is preformatted in exFAT, allowing it to work with both Windows and Mac interchangeably without reformatting. But if you have one of the new MacBooks, you’re out of luck — unless you get a dongle — since the drive doesn’t have a USB-C port; instead it uses a regular USB connector. Kingston told me it might release a USB-C version in the future.

The drive also doesn’t include any security features, so if you lose it, everyone will be able to pry into your data. Many thumb drives don’t feature encryption, but most thumb drives have just around 10GB of storage space and cost less than $20. Two terabytes is a lot more data to leave unprotected.

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Fast performance

The GT is indeed the fastest thumb drive on the market. Via USB 3.0 (also known as USB 3.1 Gen 1, which caps at 5 gigabits per second) it registered sustained copy speeds of 165 megabytes per second for writing and 327MBps for reading. While these aren’t the fastest I’ve seen, the GT is among the top high-performance external drives on the market. And speed is important in this case. The GT is so large in capacity that even with its fast performance it still takes you some three and half hours to fill up the 2TB capacity.

The GT also works with older USB 2.0 ports but its copy speed will then be capped at around 35MBps.

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Should I get it?

The Kingston DataTraveler Ultimate GT is more of a “big toe” drive than a thumb drive due to its bulky design, and the fact that it costs an arm and a leg.

That said, the drive is fast and, for now, unique due to its huge storage capacities. If you have a lot of cash and don’t know what to do with it, the GT is worth considering. Otherwise, I don’t see why you should pick this drive over the faster, more feature-rich Samsung T3 (or even the older version T1) that costs less than half the price for the same amount of storage.

If you’re really intrigued by the GT, wait for the price to drop. Of course by then, competing drives with better features might also be available.

(cnet.com, https://goo.gl/QRAZcZ)

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