Have gigabytes, will travel
One of the most oft used yet underappreciated computer accessories is the simple USB flash drive. Sure, they all do essentially the same thing—shovel data to and fro—but even though data transferring isn't particularly exciting, we all do it, and often on a daily basis. Not all thumb drives are created equal, however, and if you want to add a little panache to an otherwise mundane task, you do have options.
We scoured the web in search of some of the coolest, craziest and flat-out funkiest flash drives around. If you’re looking for something fun and fresh, there’s a good chance you’ll find it here.
Pictured: Will Rockwell's "Fancy Victorian"
USB BBQ Flash Drive
Hey, is that a chicken wing in your hand or a flash drive full of data? When in doubt, it’s best not to stick it in your mouth until you know for sure. That’s easier said than done with Brando Workshop's delectable-looking drives. They come in three flavors—chicken wing, chicken drum stick, and BBQ pork—each of which is available in 2GB to 32GB serving sizes. Pick up several and you can build a Pu Pu platter for your next office party. We dare you to find a more tasty-looking memory stick!
Brando Workshop, $15 to $35
BMW M USB Key
We love everything about this thumb drive, from the way it looks to the fact that it’s a genuine BMW accessory. We even dig the price tag. You can drive this 8GB data stick off BMW’s lot for just shy of $39—or less than it would cost to fill the tank of real BMW M car.
From the carbon-fibre-style patterns on the front and back to the BMW M logo, nobody will be the wiser that you’re actually driving a beat-up hooptie rather than a six-figure M6 convertible. It offers all the cachet (or pretentiousness?) of being a BMW owner for a fraction of the cost, with the ability to back up data to boot.
BMW, $38.74 for 8GB
Did you know that R2-D2 was inducted into the Robot Hall of Fame? It’s true, and it's totally awesome for a character that speaks a language only C-3PO seems to understand. If you’re a fan of the Star Wars universe—and R2-D2 in particular—this is the flash-based Droid you’ve been looking for.
Artoo ships with 8GB to 64GB of storage and comes pre-loaded with themed wallpapers, icons, and sounds. If you're not a Star Wars fan, you have our condolences, along with a heads up that Mimoco carries a number of officially licensed USB flash drives, including characters from DC Comics, Transformers, and more. Most of them ship with pre-loaded content.
Mimoco, $20 to $70
HDE 8GB Shining Golden Bullet
You don’t have to condone violence to appreciate the subtle messaging a bullet-shaped flash drive can send. Think about it: If Ted from accounting has any passing thoughts of snooping through your cubicle while you’re away on a coffee break, the sight of a golden bullet sitting next to your keyboard or plugged into your laptop might give him pause. The same concept applies when your daughter brings home her boyfriend to meet the folks—just twirl it in your hand as she introduces her new beau.
The flash drive comes with its own keychain, has a twist-off cap to protect your data from dust and debris, and stores up to 8GB.
Avengers USB Sticks
Not all superhero movies rock our socks, but we have to hand it to Marvel and Disney for doing a superb job with The Avengers. (Maybe Star Wars has a bright future in the post-Lucasfilm era, after all?) It was the fastest film to gross $1 billion, perhaps because there are so many different characters with whom to identify. Are you quick to anger like the Incredible Hulk or more concerned about always having a good time like Iron Man? No matter which superhero tickles your fancy, there’s an officially licensed themed thumb drive for you, and each is ready to protect your data with a waterproof and shockproof design. We'd expect no less from an Avenger.
Fancy, $27 for 8GB
Will Rockwell makes some of the best looking Steampunk thumb drives you’ll ever find, period. The Monach USB drive is constructed from Brazilian Cherry wood and features a service light, non-functioning cooling ducts with manifold, antique clock gears, and several other fine details, the likes of which can only be found in a one-of-a-kind handmade offering such as this. That uniqueness and artistic attention doesn't come cheap, though: The 16GB Monach costs a cool $120.
Each of Rockwell’s hand-crafted flash drives—there are several available—is signed, dated, and pre-loaded with a photo album of his prior work and appearances. The Monarch and its Steampunk-inspired Will Rockwell brethren might be the only ones you’ll ever buy to never use.
This multi-functional accessory from LaCie is so groovy that we’re downright shocked it never made it into a James Bond flick. Shame on Q! First and foremost, it’s a 4GB or 8GB USB flash drive that fits neatly into your wallet courtesy of a slim, credit card-sized carrying case. The thumb drive itself is scratch- and water-resistant, perfect for when spy missions turn hairy.
Don’t have access to a PC? No problem. Just whip out the integrated pen and notepad to jot down notes, phone numbers, secret formulas, and other top secret information in a pinch. It’s old school meets new school at its finest. The 4GB version can be tricky to find, though.
LaCie, $10 for 4GB or $15 for 8GB
Gangnam Style USB drive
Every list like this one needs a topical entry, and the reason we’re going with Gangnam style is two-fold. First, for better or worse, we can’t get this song or Psy's funky dance moves out of our head. Second, the viral video has the most views on YouTube with more than 810 million hits at last count. That means there’s a good chance that Gangnam Style, and this flash drive, will still be relevant a year from now. To put it in perspective, the original RickRoll video is sitting pretty with "only" 66 million views on YouTube and we're still talking about it. (Just not very often.)
USB Geek, $17 to $35 for 4GB to 32GB
Bottle opener slash flash drive
There are only so many items we can cram in our pockets, but how do you choose what to bring with you and what to leave at home? Let’s examine the facts.
Data is important, and you never know when you’ll need to access all those files stored on your flash drive. At the same time, drinking is fun, and not all bottle caps are of the easy-peasy twist-off variety. The only logical solution is to combine a flash drive with a bottle opener. It’s genius! This Satzuma model lets you store 4GB worth of PowerPoint presentations and other work-related data, and then comes in handy after five o’clock when it comes time to blow off a little steam. Variations on the theme can be found all over the web.
Altex Computers, $15.95
Swiss Army Victorinox Flash Flight
You’re not getting on an airplane with a Swiss Army knife in your pocket, but you shouldn’t have much trouble taking to the skies with the Swiss Army Victorinox Flash Flight—it lacks any blades or scissors. What it does come with, however, is up to 16GB of USB storage, a key ring, a miniature yet extremely bright white LED light, and a retractable ball point pen. It's the Swiss Army Knife for cubicle dwellers! The fine folks at the Swiss Knife Shop will even engrave the flash drive for $6.95 per side.
The Swiss Knife Shop, $40 to $110 for 4GB to 16GB