SanDisk Cruzer Contour USB drive review
On this page I'm going to take a closer look at the performance of the SanDisk Cruzer Contour. All tests were done on the following test system:
- Intel Core 2 Duo E6400 processor with Noctua NH-U12F HSF
- Asus Commando motherboard
- ASUS EN7300GS/HTD 256MB graphics card
- 2GB Super Talent T1000UX2G5 memory
- Seagate 320GB HDD
- NZXT Zero case (with Noctua fans)
- SilverStone 750W PSU
- Dell 2407WFP LCD display
- Operating system: Windows XP SP2
Like I already said on the previous page, the Cruzer text on the front of the drive lights up blue when you insert the drive in your computer.
The first test I'm going to run on the SanDisk Cruzer Contour is HD Tach. This program will measure the average and maximum read speeds of the drive and also shows the random access time.
The drive features an average read speed of 26.2MB/s, with short bursts of 30.9MB/s and an average access time of 0.5ms which is pretty good.
I also always use ATTO Disk Benchmark. I configure this program to transfer 8MB of data to the Cruzer Contour in data blocks from 1KB to 1MB:
As you can see the drive reaches a read speed of about 29.4MB/s and a write speed of 19.27MB/s with files larger than 64KB. That's definitely better than the advertised speeds.
The Cruzer Contour isn't the fastest drive I've ever tested but its read and write speeds should be sufficient for most people.
One of the special features is the support for the U3 technology. This technology allows you to execute programs directly from your flash drive, without needing to install anything on a computer first. According to SanDisk this enables you to transform any PC into "your PC". By default, U3 is activated on the drive and when you insert the drive in your PC the U3 launchpad will pop up in the lower right corner of your screen:
By default, the USB drive features about 100MB of preinstalled U3 software but if you don't need it you can delete these programs or deinstall the U3 technology completely. If you need it later you can download it from SanDisk's website.
The Cruzer Contour comes with eight U3 applications: a Launchpad tour, Skype, CruzerSync, HP PhotoSmart, Avast! Antivirus (30-day trial version), SignupShield Password manager, Sudoku, and Mahjong Towers (trial version). More software can be downloaded at U3 Software Central.
Quite a lot of free and shareware software can be downloaded on this site like multimedia players, photo editors, games, e-mail clients, office suites, web browsers, security tools and much more. Some examples of available U3 software: Trillian, XFire, Firefox, Thunderbird, OpenOffice, WinRAR, ...
The U3 Launchpad also has security options, enabling you to restrict access to the drive with a password. This only works on Windows though, Linux and Mac aren't supported.
One of the problems with previous versions of U3 was that it was hard to install but with the latest versions this isn't the case anymore, U3 can be easily removed from your drive through the U3 Launchpad application. The only thing I don't really like about U3 is that it takes up two drive letters. U3 is a nice technology but to be honest it's not really something I'm going to be using a lot.
Windows Vista ReadyBoost
Like most new USB drives on the market, the SanDisk Cruzer Contour has support for Windows Vista ReadyBoost. ReadyBoost is a new technology in Vista that aims to improve the performance of your PC by using flash memory as additional cache memory.
For this review I haven't tested ReadyBoost as tests with flash drives like the Kingston DataTraveler ReadyFlash, OCZ VBoost and Super Talent 200x indicated that the performance gains of ReadyBoost are quite small on modern computers. During benchmarking sessions on a Dell Inspiron 6400 with a 2.16GHz Core 2 Duo and 2GB DDR2 memory I found that ReadyBoost can give your system a performance boost of about 4-6%.
The SanDisk Cruzer Contour left a good impression. The drive has a nice build quality, feels a bit luxurious, has nice read/write speeds and features a retracting USB connector.
If you like this drive I definitely recommend that you buy it, you won't feel disappointed.
The Cruzer Contour 4GB has a MRSP of $99.99 and the 8GB version has a MRSP of $189.99. That's very expensive but fortunately, you can find them for a lot less. On price comparison sites I found the 4GB version for only $49 and the 8GB version for $136.99. In Europe, you can find the 4GB version for about 57EUR and the 8GB version for 97EUR. That's a tad more expensive than other 4GB and 8GB drives but still affordable.
The Good Stuff
- Good build quality
- Retracting USB connector
- Looks good
- U3 support, which can be deinstalled if you don't need it
- Lifetime warranty
- Ships with leather pouch
The Bad Stuff
- More expensive than other 4GB USB drives
- Bigger than most USB sticks.
I give the SanDisk Cruzer Contour a 9/10 and my Editor's Choice award.
Added: July 31st 2007
Product reviewed: SanDisk Cruzer Contour USB drive
Reviewer: Thomas De Maesschalck