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The Flash Drive That Made Me Rethink Flash Drives

I can’t remember the last time I got excited about a flash drive.
I’ve actually got a drawer full of them, collected from trips to CES and other trade shows. These days, vendors hand them out in place of business cards and press kits, but they’re all variations on the old flash-drive theme: a finger-size piece of plastic (some thumbs, some pinkies) with a few gigabytes of storage.

So when France-based PKparis offered to send me their K’1 drive, I was far from enthused. Then I got a gander at it: It’s tiny. Like, impossibly tiny. That elevated my interest level from “meh” to “huh,” and so I agreed to take a look.

Here’s the key thing you need to know about the K’1: Once plugged into a USB port, it protrudes by less than a quarter inch. One. Quarter. Inch. That’s nothing. And it’s only 5/8-inch wide. You can stick this into a laptop or other device and barely know it’s there. It gets in the way of nothing.

Indeed, I plugged it into my Samsung Series 9 Ultrabook, which has one of its two USB ports positioned very close to the power plug. Many, if not most, flash drives are too wide to plug in there, but the K’1 fit just fine.

Better still, it almost looks like part of the laptop. I could leave it plugged in 24/7–and, in fact, that’s exactly what I’m planning to do. Which is why this drive excites me.

See, like a lot of Ultrabooks, Chromebooks, and other SSD-equipped machines, mine is running out of storage. And to replace its 128GB SSD with a larger drive would require some fairly major surgery, to say nothing the hassles associated with copying everything from old drive to new.

With the K’1, however, presto: I’ve got an extra 32GB of “permanent” storage. I can see why PKparis calls this “Plug & Stay” memory.

This ultra-tiny drive makes a good match with other devices as well. For example, I’m currently road-testing a Favi Pico+ J6, a pocket-size projector that has a USB port. The K’1 can easily ride shotgun without getting in the way, similarly providing 32GB of full-time storage for movies and whatnot.

Now for the bad news: The K’1 isn’t currently available for purchase in the U.S. And although you can buy it direct from PKparis, the price works out to about $48–awfully steep for a 32GB drive. (The 64GB version sells for just under $100.) It’s a USB 3.0 drive, but, still, you can buy an ordinary-size equivalent for under $20.

And, in fact, if you’re willing to accept a USB 2.0 interface, there are lots of other flash drives that are similarly diminutive–and a lot less money. The virtually identical Team C12G 32GB USB 2.0 drive, for example, costs a mere $16.99 at Newegg (at this writing; prices do fluctuate).

So although the K’1 introduced me to (and sold me on) the idea of an ultra-compact flash drive, I can’t really recommend it unless you absolutely need USB 3.0 throughput. It does offer a nice metal chassis and handy top-facing LED, but I don’t think either feature merits a 3x price bump.

Ultimately, if you want lots of extra storage without the usual awkward protrusion of plastic, find a drive like this.

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