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Archive for June, 2012

Pre-Schools Sending End Of Year Reports Home On USB Sticks

Friday, June 29th, 2012

Every day our customers seem to surprise us with new ideas for using the branded USB memory sticks we supply. Yesterday one of the pre-schools we supply told us they were now sending their 4- year olds home with their end of year reports loaded onto a USB stick rather than printed on a paper report. What a great idea!

As the school said: “We decided to send our children’s reports home with them this year on the USB sticks instead of printed paper, they are only 4 years old but I am sure the parents will appreciate them and they will have a little souvenir of their time at pre-school.”

For the die-hards that prefer their child’s report on paper there is always the option to print the report off from the memory stick.

The age boundaries that children are comfortable using technology like USB sticks seems to be falling all the time. It was only last week that children of a similar age were being given engraved USB sticks at a birthday party in the party bags. Each USB stick was engraved with the little girl’s name that was hosting the party and every stick was personalised on the back with each of her friend’s names (pink sticks for the girls and blue sticks for the boys).

Ellies-Party-Usb-sticks

Ellies-Party-Usb-sticks

The children given the USB sticks at the party all went home wide eyed and happy and we had some lovely feedback from the customer who in turn had feedback from parents with children at the party saying how excited their children were and that they took their USB sticks to bed with them!

Hopefully the parents of children at the pre-school (and the children) will be equally as excited with their personalised USB sticks with their child’s end of year reports on.

If you’d like some personalised USB memory sticks engraved with a name (or other details) for your school or birthday party or any other activity where you think they’d go down well just give us a call at  USB2U – you’ll be surprised at how inexpensive they are at the moment and we can turn around orders in as little as 24hrs if you’re in a hurry.

 

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Pre-Schools Sending End Of Year Reports Home On USB Sticks

Google Nexus 7 Tablet and Support For USB Flash Drives

Thursday, June 28th, 2012

Yesterday was a big day for Google. At the Google I/O Conference in San Francisco not only did they announce a new version of Android (Jelly Bean) but, they also introduced Nexus Q which they call “the first streaming media player”, updates to Google+, Google Glasses and they launched the much anticipated Google Nexus 7 Tablet.

Google Nexus 7

Google Nexus 7

The Nexus 7 is (as the name implies) a 7 inch Google tablet that features a 1280 x 800 pixel display, a front facing camera, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. Built by Asus for Google around Nvidia’s Tegra 3 chip it has a quad-core processor and a 12-core graphics chip. It will ship with the new Andriod Jelly Bean software and it will, as you might expect, be heavily Google centric – turn it on and it will automatically jump to content from Google Play.

Two options will be available from July; an 8GB model and a 16GB model and pre-orders are being taken from today. Prices in the UK are likely to start at around £150 for the 8GB unit but this will include a number of free movies, books and magazine subscriptions.

Unlike some of the other cheaper tablets in the market the Google Nexus 7 has a USB connector albeit it’s a micro USB connector rather than the larger standard USB connector. The primary purpose of the micro USB connector seems to be to charge the Nexus 7 rather than allow it to connect to external USB storage devices like USB flash drives. But, if it has on-board support for USB-OTG (On The Go) then you should be able to plug in any USB flash drive via a USB micro adapter.

The current consensus of those that have got their hands on one of these units at the Google I/O Conference seems to suggest that connecting a USB flash drive (with an adapter) will be possible and will give users a relatively cheap way to upgrade the storage capability of the unit (albeit it will be a little be messy with adapters etc.). Messy or not we’re hopeful that USB flash drives will be supported.

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Google Nexus 7 Tablet and Support For USB Flash Drives

USB2U Invests to Double its Data Loading Capability

Wednesday, June 27th, 2012

USB flash drives continue to be one of the most popular promotional gifts in the market today. Companies, schools and universities buy them in the thousands and give them away to help develop their brand, to raise awareness of who they are and what they do and to encourage customer loyalty. Recipients of them love them because they have a high perceived value, they’re useful, small, portable and really handy.

If you’re buying promotional USB flash drives on behalf of your company and you plan to give them away to customers, prospective customers, students or journalists then you really should be pre-loading them with data before they are handed out. After all, the basic function of a flash drive is to store and carry data and if you’re paying for the USB drives then they should carry your data! Make sure you stuff them with your brochures, your price lists, press releases, videos, website detailsl anything and everything – with an average of 2GB to 8GB to play with you’re going to be able to fit loads onto the average sized promotional USB memory stick.

The downside is that loading data onto USB flash drives is incredibly tedious so whilst it makes sense to do it lots of companies (and universities) are put off pre-loading data because of the challenge of organising people, the files and the time to do it.

USB Data Loading Service

USB Data Loading Service

The simple answer to this conundrum is to let your USB flash drive supplier do the data loading for you. Professional suppliers should not only be able to print and engrave in-house but they should be able to offer you a professional data loading service as well.

USB2U is one of the few suppliers in Europe that holds a significant level of blank stock, has in-house printing, engraving and data loading capability and is able to turn around orders in less than 24hrs.

To bolster its data loading capabilities USB2U has recently invested in additional state of the art data loading equipment and is now able to load between 3,000 – 4,000 USB flash drives every day. So, if you need your USB sticks data loading call the team at USB2U or better still if you are looking to buy USB flash drives printed with your logo and loaded with your data then call USB2U – they offer free data loading (up to 200MB) on every drive you buy from them.

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USB2U Invests to Double its Data Loading Capability

Universities Save Money with USB Sticks

Wednesday, June 27th, 2012

Every year over 300 universities and colleges of higher education in the UK provide higher education courses to over 500,000 students.  Since the introduction of the maximum £9,000 a year fees the numbers have fallen slightly but they are still up on where they were in 2009.

Competition for places, particularly amongst the Russell Group of universities remains strong with many courses hugely oversubscribed. But, even outside of this elite group competition to attract the best student is high with universities and colleges spending significant amounts of money every year on Open Days, glossy prospectuses and an extensive range of website and social networking activities; it’s rare to find a college or university these days that is not active on Facebook and Twitter!

The need to run multi-level marketing campaigns on a widening range of communication channels is costly particularly when on-line campaigns need to be adapted for PC’s, smart phone and tablets. With the growing emphasis on digital delivery combined with increasing paper/print costs the long term viability of the supplying prospectuses is already being challenged.

USB Memory Sticks - Univeristy

USB Memory Sticks - Univeristy

Lots of universities have already started to hand out their prospectuses on USB memory sticks that have been printed of engraved with the university logo. These are also much easier to post out to prospective students and far less bulky for staff to take to student fairs, shows and events.

The branded USB sticks can also be pre-loaded with lots of other information for the prospective students including videos (clips of life on campus, the accommodation, interviews etc.), application forms, details of the students unions and other general information about life on and around campus. All of this information can be pre-loaded onto the USB sticks at the point of manufacture so the time of the university staff can be spent focusing on the important things rather than the tedium of pre-loading USB sticks (of course it does call for some planning and organization to have the data all ready at the time any order is placed).

For students picking up (or being sent) a nicely printed or engraved USB flash drive that can also be used for their own work/files when they start their life in higher education is a real bonus. Compared to a paper prospectus that will typically have a short lifespan USB sticks tend to be retained and used and as such the students build an association with the college or university brand printed on them.

The feedback from Bolton University is typical of the comments made by many: “The USB sticks have been a great success over the last few trips – I think they’ve already paid for themselves in saved shipping costs of prospectuses!”

If you are interested in using printed USB memory sticks as part of your next student recruitment initiative then give the team at USB2U a call or visit their website. They have been supplying schools and universities with USB flash drives for 10 years and are now the supplier of choice to many.

 

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Universities Save Money with USB Sticks

Photographers Love Black Flip Boxes for their USB Sticks

Tuesday, June 26th, 2012

If you’re a professional photographer and you’re thinking of buying some USB memory sticks printed with your logo or name on then you’re in good company! Given the number of enquiries we are getting at the moment it seems like the initial trickle of photographers abandoning CD’s and DVD’s in favour of more stylish and professional looking USB sticks has become a torrent.

The rush to USB sticks has been fuelled partly by the recent dramatic fall in the price of the larger 8GB and 16GB sticks (some of these have dropped in price by 50% and more over the past few months) and partly by increased competition in the professional photography market.

Photographers Choice of USB Memory Sticks

Photographers Choice of USB Memory Sticks

If you’re a professional photographer and you want to stand out from the crowd then a good quality and well packaged printed USB memory stick can really help. Not only do they look professional but they’re a great way to promote your name/brand, they’ll inevitably get passed around giving you plenty of exposure and of course you’ll be able to generate an additional revenue stream by selling them.

Whilst USB sticks on their own look good they look even better when made available in a custom branded gift box. The most popular option with photographers at the moment is our Black Flip Box with a custom black foam insert to match the chosen design of flash drive. The box can be printed (as shown) or we can engrave (etch) the lid as well which looks stunning.

The black boxes seem to work particularly well with our range of metal and wood flash drives. The overall package of a metal or wooden flash drive in a black gift box just looks classy and expensive. Even the best packaged CD or DVD is going to look dated alongside any of these options.

USB Sticks and Boxes for Professional Photographers

USB Sticks and Boxes for Professional Photographers

We carry lots of the USB flash drives in stock (including the wooden) options and we can print or engrave these and supply them in less than 24hrs if you’re in a hurry. We also carry lots of different packaging options (black boxes, tin boxes, magnetic clasp boxes and plain white cardboard boxes) many of which we can also brand and supply with your preferred USB sticks – just call us for details.

Of course, whilst supplying your images in this way will undoubtedly lift your profile and add to the overall professionalism of the service you offer there is no substitute for experience, natural flair and your ability behind a lens. Fantastic USB sticks might help you drive more sales and generate more revenue but it’s the quality of the photographs that will keep customers coming back for more.

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Photographers Love Black Flip Boxes for their USB Sticks

The Chronology of a Rush Request for Printed USB Memory Sticks

Thursday, June 21st, 2012

If you find yourself up against a tight deadline for printed USB memory sticks then it’s worth knowing that USB2U offer a “rush” service that can often deliver them in under 24hrs. So whether you’ve been let down by another supplier, you simply “forgot” to order them or more likely your boss has decided at the last minute that printed USB sticks would be a good idea, don’t panic, there is typically always a solution.

Fortunately at USB2U we carry lots of blank stock (different models in different memory sizes) and we can print, engrave and load data in house so we have complete control of the end to end process. Because of this we can typically flex our print schedule to help customers who are in a real bind and need their flash drives the very next day.

Below is a real-life example of how we helped a rescue a London Agency who at the last minute realised they needed branded (and dataloaded) USB Sticks for a press event being run by one of their blue-chip clients the following day:

Day 1 – 3.00pm

Customer calls asking if there is any way we could print 250 x 2GB USB sticks with their clients’ logo and get them delivered to central London before noon the following day? Oh, and all 250 USB sticks also need pre-loading with a series of PDF’s PowerPoint Slides and a short video.

Day 1 – 3.10pm

The account manager checks with the design/print team to see if we can schedule the job and checks with the data loading team to see if they can “squeeze in” a last minute job. Everyone is up for it but with only 2hrs before our courier collects it’s going to be tight so to be on the safe side we agree with the customer that a same day van can be organised for the morning.

Day 1 – 3.20pm

Customer signs off the order confirmation form and emails through their artwork and data and arranges payment by credit card.

Day 1 – 3.30pm

Our designers send a mock-up back to the customer of how their printed USB sticks will look – all approved.

Day 1 – 4.00pm

All 250 USB sticks have had the customers files copied onto them and they are passed to the print team.

Day 1 – 4.45pm

The USB sticks are printed as per the mock-up

Day 1 – 4.50pm

The printed and data-loaded USB sticks are QA checked, virus checked and individually packed into small polythene bags. The order is then finally packed into a USB2U carton, a small “thank you” card and pack of Haribo sweets is include with the order.

Day 1 – 5pm

The customers boxed order for 250 printed and data loaded sticks is collected by our overnight courier just 2 hours after the initial enquiry. The customer is sent the tracking details by email (the order has been sent on a pre-noon service) and the same day van that was put on “standby” is cancelled.

Day 2 – 11am

The printed USB sticks are delivered to the Press Event venue in Central London and the day is saved! The London Agency and their client are delighted and just a little bit stunned that in just 20hrs from making a phone call they have the branded USB sticks they wanted.

Now, ideally we’d like a little more time to perform these miracles but we have proven time and time again that it is possible. Every day we print and data load USB sticks for delivery the following day, most customers call in the morning rather than at 3pm in the afternoon and these extra few hours do help but if you are really, really up against it then call us – we like a challenge and we’ll do everything we can reasonably do to help.

Rush Service USB Flash Drives

Rush Service USB Flash Drives

 

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The Chronology of a Rush Request for Printed USB Memory Sticks

Laser Engraved Promotional USB Flash Drives

Tuesday, June 19th, 2012

Laser engraved promotional USB flash drives delivered in just 24hrs from USB2U. The only problem you’ll have is deciding which type of USB flash drive to choose because there are lots and lots of different models to select from and they all look great.

Because we use state of the art commercial CO2 lasers to engrave our USB drives we are able to reproduce logos and images with amazing accuracy and clarity. All you need to do is supply us with your logo or artwork and then we’ll arrange for a mock-up and sample to be sent to you.

Our engraving is done in-house which is why we can turn around orders in as little as 24hrs and we can be 100% sure in the quality of the finished product.

Engraved USB Flash Drives - Wood

Engraved USB Flash Drives - Wood

The benefit of opting for engraving rather than printing is that the image (your logo) is going to last no matter what punishment is thrown at it. Any logo printed onto a USB flash drive will eventually chip and flake off so whilst printed USB sticks might look fantastic when they are delivered to you after a few months in the hands of your customers they might look like they’ve been through the wars and the brand that was printed on them may well have worn off completely!

Laser engraving or laser marking as it is sometimes called uses a fine CO2 optical laser to cut into or mark the surface of the drive so when it’s engraved the resulting image is there for good! I won’t matter if the engraved promotional USB flash drive is attached to a set of key-rings and subjected to daily abuse; any logo engraved onto the drive will survive!

As these images illustrate it’s not just wooden of bamboo USB flash drives that can be engraved, the process is also suitable for a wide range of metal and leather USB drives.

Engraved Swivel USB Sticks

Engraved Swivel USB Sticks

So, if you’re in the market for some promotional USB flash drives for your school or business and you want the logo on them to last as long as the drives themselves then it’s worth considering laser engraving rather than printing. If you need them in a hurry then providing we can slot you into our schedule you can have them the very next business day – give us a call and talk though your requirements with one of our team.

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Laser Engraved Promotional USB Flash Drives

Brand Building With Logo Printed USB Flash Drives

Tuesday, June 19th, 2012

Companies that operate in a crowded market have to pay more than lip service to developing their brand and raising awareness of the brand and what it represents. Branding is not just about coming up with a nice, snazzy logo that your designer thinks is “cool” instead it’s about building up a set of positive associations  between your customers (and potential customers). These associations can be at a company level, product level, they can reflect the service received (or given) and/or they can reflect the interaction with an individual or number of individuals within the company.

When any company embarks on a brand building strategy they are fundamentally looking to  develop a programme that encapsulates the strengths and values of their business, to make clear why they are different from their competitors and why customers buy (and repeat buy) from them. Companies with a great brand will have worked hard to create a special relationship with their customers and often it’s a relationship that evokes strong emotional reactions – get it right and customers become strong advocates and ambassadors for the brand and will help drive sales forward.

A logo is often confused with a brand but a brand is more to do with the sum of many parts of which the logo is just one component albeit it is often the element that is most widely seen and remembered.

Branded USB Flash Drives

Branded USB Flash Drives

As part of a brand building initiative lots of businesses are now using USB flash drives with their logo printed or engraved onto them. The drives are either handed out at corporate events (seminars, conferences, trade shows or press events) or given away to customers as part of a promotional campaign. In most cases the USB drives are pre-loaded with lots of useful information about the company, its products and how to engage with them (website addresses, Twitter and Facebook details etc.).

Branded USB flash drives are a relatively inexpensive way to give customers, prospective customers, journalists and other influencers something that has a high perceived value, something that has the potential for repeat usage (recipients will usually use them to store and carry their own data on) and something that will help to engender a positive feeling towards the company gives them away.

The logo that is engraved or printed on the USB flash drive serves as a constant reminder of the company that handed out the USB stick and providing you don’t forget to take care of the underlying base principals of what a good brand is all about them they will support any brand building campaign.

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Brand Building With Logo Printed USB Flash Drives

Turbulent Times In the Promotional USB Memory Stick Market

Monday, June 18th, 2012

The problems in Greece and the consequential fear over the future stability of the Eurozone have done little to help the market for promotional USB memory sticks. Whist stability in this sector is only likely to be of any interest to the relatively small number of companies that operate in it across Europe it is a sector that has seen more than its fair share of price challenges of late.

If you ever wondered why very few companies selling branded USB memory sticks put prices on their web sites forcing you to contact them for a price (which of course not everyone wants to do or has the time or inclination to do) it’s simply because the core costs of the product that dictate the sales price are inextricably linked to the currency exchange markets, the commodity markets and consumer sentiment.

Flash memory (including the flash memory used to make USB memory sticks) is traded as a commodity just like coffee, tea and oil so it is subject to daily price swings as the traders that deal in it judge global market conditions. Prices are fixed in USB dollars ($) so any for companies in the UK any weakness in Sterling (GBP – £) against the USD ($) pushes up the price up and finally seasonal purchasing patterns lead to supply shortfalls and rising prices.

With all of these “fluid” elements coming together companies that sell USB sticks can typically only take the risk of fixing their prices every day and it is simply not practicable to change prices daily on their web sites.

USB Price Fluctuations

USB Price Fluctuations

Hopefully the decision in yesterday Greece elections to support the pro-bailout parties will help restore some stability to the markets and in particular the currency markets. Nervousness about the situation across the whole of the eurozone and in particular the possibility of Greece voting to leave the EU had pushed the pound (GBP – £) down from around $1.6 a couple of weeks ago to $1.53. This has a direct impact on the cost of branded USB memory sticks which when combined with concerns about future demand (based on market sentiment) has led to further price volatility.

Ironically in the middle of all of this prices for USB sticks with a larger memory capacity have dropped like a stone. Prices for 8GB and 16GB are have fallen by well over 50% in the last couple of months and although there are “mutterings” of the prices going back up it’s unlikely they will ever return to their former highs.

As ever the best advice if you are looking to buying branded USB memory sticks is to speak to a reputable supplier that understand the market dynamics and can offer you some professional advice on when and what to buy.

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Turbulent Times In the Promotional USB Memory Stick Market

New Apple Macbooks Ship with USB 3.0 – Flash Drives Still Lag Behind.

Thursday, June 14th, 2012

Earlier this week Apple took the wraps off new versions of its range of MacBook Pro and MacBook Air range of laptops and for anyone with a penchant for speed they’ll have been delighted to hear that every model across the range now ships with USB 3.0.

In fact not only are they shipping with USB 3.0 but Apple have included two USB 3.0 ports on every MacBook (Pro and Air) as well as at least one Thuderbolt port.

The inclusion of USB 3.0 is as significant and the exclusion of any USB 2.0 ports that we’ve all become familiar with over the past 5 years or so. But given that you can still plug any old USB 1.x or USB 2.0 product into a USB 3.0 port then it makes sense if you’re going to commit to USB 3.0 to drop the earlier versions completely.

USB 3.0 has been a long time coming. Development started on the new standard in 2007 to have the same ease-of-use and plug and play capability offered by USB 2.0 but with a whopping 10X performance increase in data transfer rates. The speed improvements are achieved by using a technology that has been dubbed “SuperSpeed” – this allows multiple streams of data transfer and boosts its peak bandwidth to 4.8 Gb/s (~572 MB/s).

USB-3.0 Flash Drives

USB-3.0 Flash Drives

To put the speed improvements into context if you transferred 100 albums from a MacbookPro to and iPod using a USB 2.0 the transfer would take around 2 minutes but if you use USB 3.0 (then assuming everything in the chain uses USB 3.0) then the transfer drops to around 15 seconds!!

The only slight challenge in the short term is to get the benefit of speed improvements on offer from USB 3.0 everything you use must be USB3.0 (cables, peripherals, ports etc.) If anything uses the older, slower standard (2.0) then you simply won’t get the speed benefits but at least things will still work/transfer – just more slowly!

Like any new technology there is always a premium to pay for being one of the first to buy it so for the next year or two or so expect to pay more for USB 3.0 cables, USB 3.0 peripherals and USB 3.0 flash drives.

Whilst USB 3.0 flash drives continue to attract a premium price they are unlikely to be used for promotional purposes.  There is simply no point in paying a premium for a product that for most people will only work at the slower speeds. For the foreseeable future your average PC (and Mac) user will, unless they have invested in a new MacBook, happily continue to work at USB 2.0 speeds. So whilst there is lots of buzz and interest in USB 3.0 it’s not really relevant if you want to buy printed flash drives to give away at a trade show, an event or an seminar (unless you are giving them away to an audience of hard core, early adopter “techies”).

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New Apple Macbooks Ship with USB 3.0 – Flash Drives Still Lag Behind.
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