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Teeny-Tiny USB Drives Offer Neat, Compact Storage Options for Laptops and Tablets

Whoa! Talk about major miniaturization: I stumbled across some reviews of the new SANDisk Cruzer Fit USB drives last week, and was immediately struck by their amazing utility for extending storage on notebooks, laptops, and especially tablet PCs (at least, those equipped with accessible USB ports). They’re the same size and format as the ultra-compact wireless dongles for networking and USB that have been available for a few years now, as the following photo illustrates (SANDisk even includes a cap for the device, which is just about the same size as the device itself):

This USB drive is available only in USB 2.0 form right now, and comes in 8, 16, and 32 GB sizes (the 32 GB model is available from some online resellers for as little as $25-26, not including S&H or applicable taxes). I think it’s a great way to add storage to mobile PCs and tablets because the form factor is small enough that you can leave the drive plugged in all the time, even as you pull your mobile PC or tablet in and out of a traveling case or protective sleeve. The price is right, too!

Less than 0.2″ of black plastic (far right) protrudes when you plug in this device.

The only other comparable storage options come on those devices (like the Surface Pro, and even the Barnes & Noble Nook) that support micro SD cards, or on laptops and notebooks with full-size SD card readers. Micro SD cards top out at 64 GB these days, and usually cost $1.00-2.00 per GB depending on speed. Full-size SD cards currently top out at 128 GB, and cost about the same per GB of storage.

Any of these options enables users to extend available storage — sometimes significantly — at a modest cost, without having to worry about accessing device internals to upgrade hard-to-get-at SSDs or hard disks (for tablets and ultrabooks, anyway). I’m already using 32 GB SD cards in my Lenovo T520 and X220 Tablet, and have a 64 GB miniature SD card on order for my son’s Nook HD. Should he succeed in persuading me to buy a Surface Pro (as he desperately desires me to do), I will acquire a 64 GB micro SD card for that device at the same time I order the Surface Pro itself. If I need more storage than that, I can add a SANDisk Cruzer Fit to the mix, too!

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