Photo of PQI Intelligent Stick

USB enabled flash memory drives have become popular as a floppy replacement (Dell actually offers them as such). They come in all sizes and capacities, most often 64 or 128MB, are usually shaped like keychain fobs. One model, the Intelligent Stick from PQI is particularly compact as they got rid of the USB connector metal shield to make it merely as thick as two stacked quarters. I keep mine in my wallet, with a basic toolkit of Windows debugging utilities and important scanned documents (passport, e.g.).

There’s not much to say about it – these gizmos are pretty much commodities nowadays. The remarkably thin design is very convenient, of course, although it also means the intelligent stick can’t be used on a keychain. The ferrule-free connector design mostly works, but in some rare cases it can lack traction and have problems staying put in a USB socket. In spite of the compact size, PQI managed to put a tiny write-protect switch (you can see it at the right of the stick on the picture) and an activity indicator LED, both nice touches.

Update (2003-11-07):

They are now also available in 256MB and reportedly 512MB sizes, and now ship with a USB adapter that has a complete metal ferrule for those rare situations where the simplified connector does not stay put.

Update (2004-12-07):

The Intelligent Stick is now available in 1GB capacity, and supports USB 2.0.