Just because you want loads of storage to take with you on the road doesn't mean that you have to invest in something that is physically large. USB flash drives are getting much bigger in capacity and these larger drives are increasingly affordable. Falling right into this range is the Patriot Xporter Rage USB flash drive.
The version that serves as the subject of today's review is of the 32GB variety, but the same drive is available in your choice of 8GB, 16GB, and 64GB capacities as well. The technology and design remain the same across the four sizes.
Features and Specs at a Glance
Most other thumb drives on the market rock either a plastic or an aluminum shell of some kind. These come in varying degrees of quality, but they mostly serve their purpose... until you happen to squish them or get them wet. Extreme durability against these sorts of mishaps is what Corsair has capitalized on with their Survivor Series flash drives.
The Xporter Rage drive from Patriot, while not completely rugged, does come wrapped up in a rubber-coated housing. This durable design is said to protect the drive against drops, spills, and daily abuse. It doesn't meet any of the military standards for ruggedness, but it probably fares better than an unprotected drive. But I wouldn't run over it with a car.
The other major highlight is the inclusion of Quad Channel technology. Patriot claims that this provides for fast read/write performance with write speeds of up to 25MB/s over a standard USB 2.0 connection.
The Xporter Rage in the 32GB size can be found for a street price of as low as $66.99 US. If you're looking to save a bit of money and can live with a little less storage, the Xporter Rage also comes in an 8GB and 16GB variant for a little less. The monstrous 64GB version will set you back a good $139.99 US.
Capless Slider Design
We've all been there. You take out a flash drive from your laptop backpack only to discover that the cap is missing. USB drive manufacturers have come up with several different solutions to this ubiquitous problem.
With the Patriot Xporter Rage, they did away with the cap altogether. Instead, it makes use of a slider design to retract the USB connector when it's not in use. The portion of the drive with the Patriot logo stays fixed, while the rest of the black body can slide back and forth to cover and reveal the USB connector. This is far from the most original of designs, to be sure, but it's one that works quite well.
I imagine that the slider mechanism might get a little worn with time, but the rugged-esque materials should help to extend that somewhat.
Other First Impressions on Build Quality
Drives that claim to be fully ruggedized are usually quite a bit bulkier. This drive is very compact by comparison, measuring about 5cm in length. There is a hole for a lanyard, but nothing of that sort is included in the box.
The rubber coating gives a good feel to the drive, despite the fact that the body is likely made of plastic and not metal. Even so, there is some reassurance that it'll survive your daily abuse without too much trouble. Just bear in mind that, due to the slider design, the USB connector is never fully protected from dust, moisture, and other environmental hazards.