Portable storage solutions first started off with flash drives. Initially, they were expensive and slow but things quickly improved. Large capacity drives could be bought at cheap rates and even now, hard drives continue to be the choice for those who want large storage capacities. Today, flash drives with capacities up to 16 GB can be bought for as little as Rs. 1,000. Silicon Power has introduced a new rough-and-tough drive called the Unique 530. We received the 16 GB capacity model for review.

Features and Design
Silicon Power has adopted a somewhat different design with their new Unique 530, which has a full silica gel body. Flash drive manufacturers are slowly moving to the new USB 3.0 specification, but Silicon Power has gone with the USB 2.0 spec on this drive.

Sturdy design

Sturdy design

The top of the drive has  a small metal loop, so you can tether it and hang it around your neck. The flash drive itself is a plastic memory stick that slides out. It’s similar to the really compact flash drives that are larger than a finger nail. Silicon Power claims that the drive is water proof, vibration proof and dust proof. Since there is no particular component that gets exposed or anything that can corrode, there’s really nothing that can go wrong with the drive. We even dropped it a couple of times and it worked just fine. The flash drive we received was white in colour with a grey band – overall, it does look attractive and is sturdy.

Performance
The performance of the best USB 2.0 drives around have always been limited to roughly 30 to 35 MB/s, but the Unique 530 performed poorly in our benchmarks. The synthetic benchmark tests for the Unique 530 16GB showed read speeds of 17.4 MB/s which is nowhere close to the USB 2.0 bandwidth bottleneck.

Real world performance turned out to be slower. We tried copying a single 4GB file only to find that the write speed was 12.33 MB/s. Similarly the multiple set of 4 GB data saw write speeds of 11.22 MB/s which is a little slower than the single file write test. There wasn’t any phenomenal improvement in the read speeds either. A sequential 4 GB file was read at a speed of 18.2 MB/s, and the multiple set of the same capacity was read at 17.96 MB/s.

There are better pen drives out there

There are better pen drives out there

Verdict
We weren’t terribly impressed with the performance of the Unique 530 16 GB flash drive. It’s handy  for copying small amounts of data such as a few images, documents and some music. But go a little higher like if you want to copy files larger than 4 GB, it will take more than five minutes to do so.To add to the below par performance, the price of the drive makes recommending it difficult. At Rs. 1,580, it’s more expensive than most of the flash drives in the market. While the Unique 530 boasts of a sturdy design, it’s very unlikely that the flash drive will be put to a lot of abuse. You’re better off purchasing a regular 16 GB flash – it’ll be cheaper, equally compact and offer roughly the same performance. The SanDisk Cruzer Blade and Transcend V500 have the same capacities and will cost you about a few hundred Rupees less.

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