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New Reversible USB Design Finished

August 19th, 2014

The standards group that have been developing the next generation of the USB cable and connector have finally finished their work and have now passed the exact specifications to the USB Implementers Forum.

Expect a smaller USB port with that will support cables and peripherals that can plugged in any way around! There are also significant improvements in the data transfer speeds that can be supported – 10 Gigabits per second which is twice the current maximum supported by USB 3.0.

The next stage is the manufacture of products, cables and peripherals to take advantage of the new specification. Dubbed “USB Type-C” the new connector is not dissimilar to Apple’s Lightning cable/connector.

USB Type C Cable and Connector - Courtesy of Foxconn

USB Type C Cable and Connector – Courtesy of Foxconn

Whilst USB Type-C has many benefits it is not compatible with the current USB standard so it’s going to take a while before it gains any critical mass and of course users will have to upgrade all of their peripherals to take advantage of the benefits on offer.

The move from USB 2.0 to USB 3.0 has been slow so it’s going to be interesting to see how quickly the market adopts this new standard. Its adoption is likely to be helped if it’s picked up and marketed by the makers of Android Smart Phones – it’s unlikely it will get any help from Apple who are likely to prefer their own Lightning standard.

USB flash drives that take advantage of the Type-C connector are likely to emerge later this year albeit we may just see first generation prototypes in 2014. Of course without PC’s, laptops, tablets and smartphones to plug them into it’s going to take a while!

Inevitably USB flash drives that take advantage of this new specification will be expensive so they’re unlikely to be used as promotional items and give-aways (unless you’re a company with deep marketing budgets and you’re targeting classic early adopters!). They’re also likely to have much larger data storage capabilities that the typical 8GB or 16GB USB sticks you see today – after all there is little point in putting all that power and speed into a USB stick and then equipping it with 8GB of memory that you could fill in seconds. It’d be a bit like designing a Ferrari with a 1 litre petrol tank – it’ll look fantastic, sound fantastic and drive amazingly well but it would only go 100 metres before you’d need to fill it up with petrol again!

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USB Lanyards & USB Name Badges – Ideal for Conferences & Seminars

August 14th, 2014

If you’ve got a conference, seminar, press event or show coming up any time soon then one of the many challenges you’ll have to wrestle with is how you make sure that the attendees can be identified easily. Of course you’ll also be expected to supply them with copies of the speakers’ slides and notes together with any associated Press Releases and marketing material.

In today’s security conscious world the identification of people attending an event is of paramount importance. You need to know that the people attending have actually been invited, they are who they say they are and once identified to you as the organiser that other attendees can easily identify who they are, who they work for and ideally what position they hold. The obvious way of doing this is to go through a sign-in process and the attendees with a name badge – a version they either pin to themselves of a version they attach to a lanyard.

At larger events a common technique is to add a Barcode to the name badge so the badge holder can be “scanned” and identified at various points around the event (handy for controlling access to VIP areas or just for tracking who went where).

If you use a USB Name Badge or USB lanyard you can get all the benefits of a standard badge and lanyard but with the added benefit of supplier the badge holder with a digital copy of the speakers notes, slides etc.

USB Lanyards and USB Name Badges

USB Lanyards and USB Name Badges

A USB name badge can be pre-printed with the attendees’ details and can include a bar code or QR code. Or, to keep it simple you could continue to use the current style/type of name badges you use today but substitute the usual lanyard with a USB lanyard – these can be printed or embroidered with you logo and marketing message as usual.

Either way you get a brilliant way of distributing all of your marketing material to every attendee. No more printing of speakers’ notes and slides, no more building a secure website login to allow attendees to login and download them – just load them up onto the USB lanyard or USB name badge and you’re done. The “uploading” of the data can usually be done for you free of charge by the USB suppliers you just need to have your data ready before they are ready to deliver them to you.

An added benefit of using a USB flash drive solution is that they tend to be retained by the recipient so you get much more continued brand exposure than you ever would with a regular name badge or lanyard.

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USB Wedding Favours – Recent price drops make them an attractive idea

August 13th, 2014

If you’re one of the thousands of happy couples that are going to tie the knot this year then amid all of the euphoria, stress and excitement that you’ll be going through there will no doubt be a million and one things for you to organise to make sure your happy day goes to plan.

The big things tend to be easy to remember (the church, the registry office, the rings, the dress, the venue and the flowers etc.) but it’s the little things that can get overlooked or they can just burn hours and hours trying to get them just right. Of course finding the suppliers for everything on your wish list is never easy!

If you’ve decided there’s enough budget left to provide Wedding Favours to your guests then there are literally hundreds and hundreds of ideas you could consider including the old favourites of chocolates, sweets , cup cakes and keyrings – most of these, if you include a nice little box to put them in are going to cost around £5 each. If you want them personalised then typically you’ll also need to add the cost of the artwork set-up and print costs which can add another £20 – £30.

Another option, and one that is gradually gaining in popularity, is a USB Flash Drive Wedding Favour.

USB Wedding Favours

USB Wedding Favours from USB2U

USB flash drives, and in particular engraved wooded USB flash drives have become really popular with professional wedding photographers who are now using them instead of DVD’s – the tend to buy them in “bundle” that include a printed or engraved box and the end results look stunning.

Having seen them some couples are now looking at buying these Flash Drive and Box bundles and using them as wedding favours. The boxes and sticks can be fully personalised and of course the one thing you can do with a memory stick favour that you can’t do with any other type of favour is to pre-load them with tons of digital files – so for example you could pre-load a little movie saying “thanks” to all your guests and load that on the flash drive. Or, you could put together a collection a montage of photos, music and videos that tell the story of who you are, how you met, how the relationship blossomed and finally images from the Hen and Stag do (if you dare!)

All of these files can be copied onto each USB drive by your supplier – typically at no extra costs.

Custom USB sticks for Wedding Photographers

Custom USB sticks for Wedding Photographers

With prices for USB flash drives falling you can expect to pick up a really nice engraved wooden USB memory stick for £3-£4. USB2U have some lovely packages on their photography site which are well worth a look at.

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Stick it on a USB Credit Card – It’s the best solution

August 11th, 2014

No, we’re not advocating the use of credit cards to fund your business growth although we do know a number of business owners that started out this way and now run hugely successful and multi-million pound turnover businesses. Not for the faint hearted.

Rather we are suggesting that if you are looking to buy promotional USB memory sticks but you’ve got a large image, logo or perhaps a great photo that you want printing on the USB’s then you’re going to struggle with the limited print area on most “standard” USB memory sticks. A much better option is to use a USB Credit Card.

USB Credit cards are relatively new but they’ve very quickly become a firm favourite because:

  1. They’re a shape we’re all familiar with and as such we all have wallets, purses, bags etc. to carry them in
  2. The latest versions are only 2mm thick so they are only marginally thicker than a standard bank issued card!
  3. They come in a wide range of memory sizes all the way up to a whopping 32GB
  4. They can be printed in full colour (with the full image bleed to the edge of the card) on both sides
  5. They are held in stock in the UK so they can be printed, data-loaded and delivered in as little as 24hrs!
USB Credit Cards

USB Credit Cards

Obviously the key point of differentiation with these cards is the print area – as you can see from these examples we can produce stunning results on our USB cards. All we need is for you to supply us with the artwork and our print and design team will take care of the rest. Nothing gets printed until you are happy so we’ll take you through a formal mock-up, sample and approval process before we start the mass production of your cards.

It’s the same with any data you want loading – ideally email us the file of or simply send it to us via a service like DropBox. We’ll them arrange to create a “USB Master”, we’ll test this and then send you screen shots of the data for your approval. Data-loading up to 300MB is free* (*there is a small charge if you want your USB Cards and data on any of our rush service options – your Account Manager can advise).

For anyone that was around in the 80’s we like to think of these cards along the same lines as the old Access Credit Cards – Your Flexible Friend! (lost on anyone under the age of 40 – doesn’t time fly)

 

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Branded USB Sticks from USB2U are Gilt-Edged Promotional Products

August 6th, 2014

Promotional products have been with us for over 200 years albeit the first “gift” was just a button that was handed out to encourage voters in the USA to elect George Washington to office! In the subsequent two centuries things have gotten a little bit more sophisticated but in the UK it was only in the 1950’s that things really started to take off and companies began to harness the power of promotional gifts.

Today tens of thousands of companies give away promotional gifts with a value that runs into the hundreds of millions of pounds every year! They give them away to promote what they do, what they sell or just to help build their brand and develop customer recognition and loyalty. Promotional products are typically printed, engraved or embossed with the company’s name, logo or marketing strap line.

They’re commonly used as a “give-away” at trade shows, exhibitions, sporting events, conferences and as part of marketing campaigns where recipients might for example be asked to sign up to receive email offers from the company offering the gift.

In 2012 the BPMA (British Promotional Merchandise Association) commissioned a piece of research on behalf of its members to establish what the most popular promotional product was. The results from 1,000 respondents not only showed that promotional gifts had an incredibly positive effect and were, more than any other form of medium, likely to engender brand loyalty and encourage buying behaviour.

They also showed that the most popular product to give is a USB memory stick closely followed by the more humble mug!

Gilt Edged Promototional Products from USB2U

Gilt Edged Promototional Products from USB2U

So, if you are looking for a “gilt-edged” promotional product (something defined as high grade, top quality and with very low risk) then you won’t go far wrong with a promotional USB memory stick! There are lots of different styles and models to choose from and with prices (in volume) starting from well below £2.00 per unit they’re not going to break the bank either.

Unlike other give-aways they can also be used to hand out loads of information about products and services. Simply pre-load the USB sticks with files, video clips, photos, price lists etc. before they are handed out! These days you don’t even have to worry about the grunt work of loading the data onto each USB stick – just hand the data files to your supplier and they’ll do the rest for you and usually they won’t charge for this value added service either!

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USB Folio Packages for Professional Photographers

August 4th, 2014

If you’re a professional photographer and you’re looking to re-think the way you deliver the portfolios to your clients then you might want to give some serious consideration to the range of USB folios on offer from USB2U.

They now have a range of pre-packaged “bundles” that include a Grade A high performance (uprated) USB memory stick and a USB gift box (all supplied with either a custom cut foam insert of a eco-friendly filling).

The “uprated” USB flash drives ensure you get drives that are faster than run of the mill promotional USB flash drives. Promotional versions are cheaper but they are very slow, they have a much shorter life expectancy and they don’t always handle large image files well (the images tend to break down and have “interference” lines on them!) – Not what you need when you’re delivering a treasured set of memories!

The pricing for the bundles includes all the set-up costs, the print/engraving costs, custom cut foam inserts (or eco fillings for the wooden boxes) and delivery via UPS or Royal Mail Special Delivery. Lead times are around 7 -10 days but they do offer a “rush” service if you need them faster but expect to pay a small rush fee if you need them quickly.

The wooden packaged bundles have been really popular and there a loads of stunning photographs of them in USB2U’s Pinterest pages – many of which have been pinned and posted by the professional photographers themselves. The wooden options seem to be popular because they’re tactile, they’re warm to the touch, they have an earthly and slightly organic feel to them and they can be embellished easily with a ribbon, a hessian bag and handwritten label. They’re also not the sort of USB stick that people can easily pick up at their local supermarket or PC store so there is a feeling of exclusivity and quality about them.

Emma Lawson Photography USB Sticks and Boxes

Emma Lawson Photography USB Sticks and Boxes

If wood is not your thing or just won’t work with your branding/image then there are several other packages available which are built around a USB Card, a range of leather USB sticks and the ever popular Twister (Swivel) USB sticks. Again all of these come with packaging options and they all look fantastic.

USB folio packages are definitely the way forward and in the UK USB2U are pretty much the “go to” company to buy them from.  Check out their 2,000 + testimonials on Trustpilot and take a look at the hundreds of images posted on their web pages.

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We’ve Smashed Through 2,000 Reviews for USB2U on Trustpilot

July 30th, 2014

As a relatively conservative British company it’s not really the done thing to brag but we’re so pleased to have broken through 2,000 customer reviews for USB2U on Trustpilot that we couldn’t resist the urge to post an update about it on our website. It’s a big milestone for us and the fact that the vast majority of our reviews rate our service and products as “Excellent” is something we’re really chuffed about!

We started using the independent review service provided by Trustpilot a couple of years ago. We did it (and we have to pay for the service) because we wanted to give our customers a chance to comment on the service and the promotional USB memory sticks they receive from us.

At the outset we had no real idea what the reaction would be. We felt that we were offering a good service, it’s certainly something we strive to do and the team here at USB2U put their heart and soul into trying to give our customers the best experience they can. But without actually asking our customers for their feedback we were really just guessing what people might be thinking and of course if there were issues with our service we were never going to find out. OK, we might get the odd one or two customers providing feedback but by introducing a trusted and independent 3rd party to manage the reviews we’ve found that customers are much more willing to provide feedback (good and bad).

We’re by no means perfect and we’ve picked up a few negative comments over the last couple of the years. Mostly it’s been where we’ve dropped a catch or made a silly mistake – we’re all human and with the thousands of orders we handle ever year the odd one or two errors are bound to creep in. We’ve taken these on the chin and when they do happen we use the feedback as constructively as we can to make changes and improvements or our processes. Any negative feedback hurts but more importantly if a customer has taken the time to write it then it typically means they’re pretty unhappy and we’d rather know about this so we can deal with their issues and make sure we get it right next time.

Our current ranking based on just over 2,000 reviews if 9.7 out of 10 which of course we’re delighted with! There are simply too many to highlight and post here but if you are interested pop over to the Trustpilot site and have a browse through the reviews – we can’t moderate or adjust them, all we can do is ask/encourage customers to say a few words and rank us.

If you are looking for trusted UK supplier of promotional USB memory sticks then checking out 3rd party review sites like Trustpilot is a good place to start!

Promotional USB Twister Flash Drives

Promotional USB Twister Flash Drives

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It’s All In The Packaging

July 17th, 2014

You could have the most aesthetically pleasing Promotional Memory stick, some highly interactive data, accessories galore, but all this good work can be diminished if it does not have appropriate packaging or no packaging at all.

One of the key things to consider when ordering Branded USB Memory sticks is how these are going to be handed to the end users and the impact and statement you want to make. The right packaging not only protects the USB memory stick, but it also shows them off in their best light, offers print space for additional branding, storage for the user and the opportunity to add other items within the packaging such as a leaflet or business card.

A montage of photographs of different USB Memory Sticks with branded packaging

Packaging for USB Memory Sticks - Availaible from USB2U

There is now a plethora of packaging options for you to consider that can be clustered into the following:

No / or Basic Packaging. If you already have packaging to insert the Branded Memory Stick into then they can be despatched with no packaging. However you should ensure they are either placed into individual bubble bags or in trays to avoid them scratching.

Small Cardboard Box. This entry level box protects the USB memory sticks and is very cost effective. Most suppliers will provide these free of charge. Looks great printed.

Boxes with Windows. These are ideal to show the Branded Memory Sticks off in their full glory as the branding can be positioned to appear in the window.

Tin Boxes. These give the Promotional Memory Drive greater gravitas and make ideal executive gift boxes.

Wooden Boxes. These are really in vogue and work particularly well with wooden memory sticks. Great option for the Photography Market.

High Gloss Boxes. Looking for something which allows for a large expanse of print and in full colour?  These would ideal.

Blister Pack. If the Branded Memory Sticks are for retail use then blister packaging may be the solution. It allows the memory sticks to be displayed and a printed card inserted.

Other things of note:

-        All boxes can be printed or engraved with a logo or marketing message.

-        Make sure the size of the packaging will allow for any accessories e.g. Branded lanyard.

-        If foam is used to hold the memory stick in place then ensure this is cut to the exact profile.

-        Ensure that you order your packaging with the memory sticks otherwise the cost will be higher.

-        Suppliers are now offering packaging in recycled material – worth asking.

 

If you have ever had the opportunity to open a brand new Apple product you will know the important role packaging plays in the perceived value of the product and quality of what’s inside. A useful rule of thumb for your Branded USB Memory sticks.

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UDP Flash Has Driven USB Memory Stick Innovation

July 10th, 2014

When the first USB flash drives hit the market just over 10+ years ago they were all based on one core technological solution and that was the combination of flash memory with a controller chip and a capacitor – these components were soldered onto a printed circuit board and a USB connector provided the interface to the PC. The result was a small(ish), portable and easy to use data storage device – the USB memory stick was born!

The “guts” of the memory stick (the printed circuit board, memory module, capacitor, controller and USB connector) are generally referred to in the industry as a COB solution – think of it as a common engine around which manufacturers build different designs/shells.

In subsequent years the storage capacity of these first generation USB sticks grew from a relatively small 8MB to eventually break through the 1GB barrier. Today memory sticks with a storage capacity of 64GB are common place!

The big shake up in terms of design came with the introduction of the UDP chips – in common with other sectors in the computer and gadget sector what was once achieved on a large COB card could now be achieved on a much smaller form factor. Effectively a UDP chip has the flash memory, the controller and the capacitor all rolled into one and as you can see it’s much smaller.

USB Memory Sticks  - COB vs UDP

USB Memory Sticks - COB vs UDP

As a consequence the USB memory stick product designers have had a field day! No longer did their designs have to work with a largish rectangular internal component but instead they could now unleash their creative talents and come up with all sorts of shapes, designs and styles.

Today the market is awash with thousands of different designs ranging from super thin credit cards to tiny little Iron Sticks and lots of really cute custom USB sticks. UDP chips are a boon to designers of Custom USB sticks because pretty much any shape can now be accommodated hence the proliferation of custom USB lips, USB animals, USB truck and cars and USB sticks in the shape of characters from movies.

USB Cards Using UDP Chips

USB Cards Using UDP Chips

There is no difference in the performance of USB memory sticks that use UDP technology. Their read/writes speeds are just as fast and they’ll support the same number of read/write cycles. Arguably they are more stable because there are no soldered connections to break or weaken over time.

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Save you Holiday with a Power Bank

July 8th, 2014

The latest security measures implemented by Heathrow and Manchester on flights to the US mean could mean you miss your holiday if you turn up at the boarding gate for your flight with a device that doesn’t switch on. This includes smart phones, iPads and tablets, electric shavers and hand-held games.

The checks don’t just apply if Heathrow or Manchester is the starting point for your holiday. Incoming passengers from other airports that are transferring to flights will be subject to the same checks and consequences. Put simply if your smart phone (or other device) does not power up when requested by the security staff at the airport you may (subject to their being enough time before your flight closes) be allowed to make use of any charging points in the airport. Alternatively you will be given the option of using a MailandFly service where you pay a fee for your “banned” goods to be stored for up to 42 days or shipped separately to a forwarding address.

Once these options have been exhausted you may simply be removed from the flight. It’s a very fluid situation at the moment with many of the major carriers still to define and publish their plans. The basic advice is to make sure that any electrical gadget you want to take with you on your flight can be powered up both at the security gates and at the boarding gate – if they don’t you run the risk of losing them and potentially being ejected from the flight.

Use a Power Bank to charge your Phone before you fly

Use a Power Bank to charge your Phone before you fly

The rules also apply to any new electronic item you buy at the airport so you can’t just assume because you’ve bought it “airside” that it will be ok – even if it’s still in its original packaging!

One option is to carry a small Power Bank with you. These are re-chargeable external power supply units that you can pre-charge before you set off on your travels. Should you then start to run low on power whilst you’re at the airport you can simply plug the Power Bank into your smart phone, iPhone or tablet and within a few minutes it will give your device enough charge to power on and pass the security checks. Leave it plugged in for between 1hr to 2hrs and it will fully charge your smart phone!

Even if you have to abandon your power bank (and they only costs a few pounds) once you’ve charged your devices with it then at least you’ll still be able to travel and more importantly you’ll be able to travel with your phone!

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