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Crystal USB Memory Sticks – Wow these are Amazing

Posted by USB2U on 14th August 2015 | Permalink

Over the 13 years that we’ve been selling promotional USB Memory Sticks we’ve seen some absolutely great examples of them but after a while you tend to become a little blasé about new models being brought to the market.

When you’ve handled tens of thousands of customer orders and supplied millions of promotional USB sticks it’s difficult to get excited but, every now and then, something really special grabs our attention and gives us goose bumps!

The product in question is the Crystal USB stick but not the standard version. No, our skilled and creative design and print team have taken this core product and blended it with our in-house design and printing capabilities to produce a truly stunning promotional USB memory stick – check out the image below!

Crystal USB Memory Sticks - Amazing

Crystal USB Memory Sticks – Amazing

What you’re seeing is a basic (clear) Crystal model that has been given a full colour print but the print has been applied in a way that retains some of the translucence of the original. When you use the technique to mimic something like a full bottle of perfume the results are stunning. Trust us, in the flesh the Channel perfume bottle looks like it really is a bottle of perfume and it’s the same with the JOOP example.

Now we appreciate not everyone’s product, logo or artwork is going to work with this particular product but if you do have something you want to promote and you’re product lends itself to this kind of promotional treatment then we would encourage you to let us have a go at producing some mock-ups and samples for you. We don’t charge for this service and there is no commitment to buy from us – we just want to be given the opportunity to show what we can do/produce.

If it sounds like we’re excited about the potential of this Crystal USB stick in the hands of our print team it’s because we’ve never before had such a positive reaction across the company to the launch of a new product. We have lots of samples in stock so if you need to see one “in the flesh” to be convinced then just give us a call or drop an email to one of our friendly and knowledgeable sale team.

Don’t worry about the cost either. Despite how brilliant they look they are only pennies more than our “Classic” range of USB sticks.

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What Happens to Your USB Stick Order Before we send it out

Posted by USB2U on | Permalink

When you order promotional USB Memory Sticks from USB2U you need to be confident that what you’ve ordered is what actually arrived. Before we even start the production of your order we’ll have taken you through a comprehensive mock-up and proofing process because it’s easier for everyone to make sure things are right before any production takes place.

Despite these rigorous pre-production checks we also put every single order through a very comprehensive set of post-production checks before it leaves us. To be fair it’s not a popular job because it can be a bit tedious but in a crowded and highly competitive market it’s incredibly important to us. After all, we want our customers to come back to us and we want them to be delighted with their order from USB2U.

Around 50% of our customer orders are “finished” (printed, engraved, data-loaded and packed) before they leave our factory in China and because of this lots of QA checks are done in the factory. BUT, in addition to the QA checks that our factory make our own Operations and Fulfilment team carry out the following additional checks before any order (including the other 50% of orders that are finished in the UK) leaves our hands:

  1. Every carton of USB sticks that arrive from our Chinese factory is thoroughly checked to make sure nothing has been damaged in transit. We look for anhy obvious signs of “crushing” and photographs are taken to record any damage or loss. If anything is found to be damaged or missing (it does happen albeit rarely) then we’ll alert the factory and ask them to prepare and ship replacements and we’ll notify the customer of any potential shortfall in their order. Where we can we’ll replace any damaged sticks from our UK stock so our customers are not inconvenienced.
  2. Every printed or engraved USB stick is checked visually against the signed off proof to make sure that it’s the right colour, that its printed correctly (the right colour, in the right place, in the right orientation and finally that there are no spelling mistakes). If accessories have been ordered, e.g. key rings or lanyards then we’ll also make sure these are attached.
  3. A random sample from each order (several samples if it’s a large order) is checked using the latest Trend Micro anti-virus software – this is particularly important where we have been provided with data to pre-load onto the USB sticks.
  4. A sample of each order is checked to ensure that the internal flash memory is the correct size. If a customer has ordered 8GB USB memory sticks we check to make sure the drives are 8GB.
  5. Assuming all of the above tests and checks are passed we record who undertook the various checks and then we carefully box up the order in a robust USB2U box. Whilst doing this we’ll count the USB sticks to make sure the correct number are being sent out and finally we’ll pop into the box a packet of sweets by way of a “thank you”!

We’ve been supplying branded and promotional USB flash drives since 2002 and these processes have been put in place and refined over the last 13 years to ensure that our customers can be confident that they get exactly what they have paid for every time.

QA Checked By USB2U

QA Checked By USB2U

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Best Artwork for Printed USB Memory Sticks

Posted by USB2U on 13th August 2015 | Permalink

If you want to order some USB memory sticks with your logo printed on them then expect one of the first questions from your supplier(s) to be about the quality and format of your artwork.

Whilst printed USB sticks can look amazing and there are some brilliant examples of them all over the USB2U website they’ll only look this good if you can supply decent artwork for your supplier to work with. The phrase “garbage in, garbage out” is commonly by computer programmers as a mantra to remind themselves that a computer will process whatever data you load into it – the quality of the result however depends almost entirely on the quality of the code/data used.

Garbage in and garbage out can be applied just as easily to the printing of promotional USB memory sticks. Print them using low quality artwork, particularly artwork that has been digitally compressed (JPEG’s) then on the whole the results will be very poor.

So, before you think about ordering USB sticks with your logo printed on (or any promotional item for that matter) it is strongly recommended that you first make sure the logo or design you want printed can be supplied in one of the following formats:

  • EPS (Encapsulated Postscript)
  • TIFF (Tagged Image File Format)
  • RAW (Raw Image Formats)
  • Vector File Formats

Artwork in this format will allow your logo, design or artwork to be rendered properly, printed correctly and printed to a sharpness you would expect. What you cannot do is take a JPEG image (that you have for example simply “grabbed from a web page”) and convert it to an EPS file. You need the original high quality image.

If in any doubt talk to the suppliers designer or get your designer or design agency to talk directly to the suppliers designer. It’s worth spending the time in the early stages of your order to get it right rather than be disappointed with the results when the printed memory sticks arrive on your desk!

We know that JPEG are popular and a common way of saving images from cameras (even top end cameras tend to default to JPEG images rather than RAW files) but, JPEG images (named after the Joint Photographic Experts Group who created the standard) are typically compressed to a ratio of 10:1 so you lose as much as 90% of the image content during the compression process.

This process is known as “lossy” and as the name implies when an original image is converted into a JPEG file many of the original elements of the image cannot be recovered. To the naked eye, particularly when viewed on a web page, there will be no perceptible difference to the image pre and post compression.

Compressed JPEG image files are ideal for web pages because they are smaller and therefore load more quickly but they’re rarely suitable for print, which is why we always ask our customers to supply artwork in any of the 4 image types listed above.

USB Buttons from USB2U

USB Buttons from USB2U

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Looking For Promotional Gift Inspiration – Why USB Sticks are a great choice

Posted by USB2U on 20th July 2015 | Permalink

If you’ve been challenged to come up with a promotional gift for a forthcoming event, campaign or conference then you’re pretty quickly going to realise that it’s not as easy as you might have thought. Coming up with something a little bit different and something that is relevant to your target audience, something that represents and fits with your company’s brand value(s) and perhaps more importantly something that is within budget can be tough!

The obvious “go to” choices for most people looking for Promotional Giveaways are printed bags, printed pens, key rings, cups and mugs etc. These have been around for years and they’ve maintained their popularity because they’re reasonably cheap, they’re pretty easy to get hold of (even with your brand on) and they’re an “easy” choice. But, what about USB memory sticks?

Promotional USB Twister Flash Drives

Promotional USB Twister Flash Drives

Branded USB memory sticks (to be clear that’s a USB memory stick with your company’s name on and not a memory stick from a well known manufacturer who puts their brand or logo on them) not only look fantastic when printed up with a company logo but they’re incredibly popular with the people you give them to because they really are very useful and handy things to have.

USB Sticks are available in a huge range of styles and memory sizes and if you buy a reasonable number (say 200 or more) and you go for a small memory version you can pick them up for less than £1.50 each. You could even get your own design/shape commissioned (perhaps in the shape of one of your products) – these full 3D custom sticks only cost a little bit more. Just remember if you do go down the custom route to allow yourself a little longer when placing the order.

Where a USB stick really comes into its own compared to other promotional gifts is the ability to pre-load them with things like your marketing material, videos, sales data sheets, price lists, web links etc. etc. If you’re really organised these files can be loaded for you by the factory during the manufacturing process. The cost of doing this is tiny and in some cases free but it does rely on you having the information and files ready when you place the order. By loading this sort of material onto the USB sticks before you hand them out you can cover the cost of the sticks by the saving you make by not getting quite so many items printed!

With the rise in prominence of USB sticks (or flash drives as they are often called) there are plenty of companies now supplying them in the UK. If you do decide to add them to your short list then shop around to make sure you get the best deal. Please buy from a reputable supplier with a proven track record because its all too easy to buy cheap/cheerful versions that are not quite what they seem and will have a high failure rate.

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Promotional USB Sticks with a logo that will last a lifetime

Posted by USB2U on 15th June 2015 | Permalink

If you’re buying USB memory sticks with your logo on then one of the primary reasons for buying them will be to promote your company and your brand – if all you wanted to do was hand out USB sticks then you could just as easily buy them without your logo on. Arguably it would be easier (and cheaper) to buy them this way but what would be the point!

Let’s face it if you’re going to spend a minimum of several hundreds of pounds on giveaways (like USB sticks) then you absolutely must get your them branded with your logo. Yes there is a small overhead to arrange this (versus buying blank) and you will pay marginally more for the finished product but promotional gifts like USB sticks are all about brand development and without a brand on them you fail at the first hurdle.

BUT one of the things you will need to consider when you buy promotional USB memory sticks with your logo on is exactly how the logo is applied. Do you opt to have the logo printed or is it better to get the logo engraved or embossed on the sticks.

Printing is usually done in one of two ways:

  • Silk Screen printing – using this technique each colour of your logo will be printed individually onto the case of the USB stick (onto which the logo is being applied) with the case often being baked in a small print oven between colours. The baking process tends to be used when metal surfaces are printed on because it hardens and toughens the print and protects it against chipping and scratching. On plastics its typical for a primer or bonding agent to be used.
  • Digital UV Print – UV printing is relatively new but its very popular because its allows full colour printing (photo quality) in a single pass using the latest UV printers. There’s a bit like a large photo printer you might use at home but with special UV inks that are dried and hardened by a UV lamp built into the printer. In many cases it’s still necessary to prime and thoroughly clean the USB sticks before they are printed but with care and an experienced operator the results can be stunning.

Whichever method is used the fundamental problem with printing is that over time the image printed will chip and scratch. Once the “bond” the ink forms during the print process is broken then it’s just a matter of time until the complete logo disappears.

Given the primary objective for buying USB sticks with your logo on is the on-going brand exposure you get from them then the quality of the print is a key consideration. Ink almost wiping straight off metal USB sticks is not unheard of!

An alternative is to choose a USB stick that can be engraved or embossed. OK, you’ll lose the ability to have your logo printed in full colour but the logo will last forever!

On the right model of USB stick, engraving looks brilliant. It’s tactile and the amount of detail you can get may surprise you. Both branding options (printing or engraving) have their merits but if you want longevity then it has to be engraving. Still not sure, then just ask for samples before you place any order.

Engraved Twisters By USB2U

Engraved USB Memory Sticks

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University Open Days are in full Swing – How many Promotional USB memory sticks can you collect

Posted by USB2U on 12th June 2015 | Permalink

It’s that time of the year again when families travel will travel the length and breadth of the country in search of the best University for their son or daughter. For many parents it will be the first time they’ve stepped across the threshold of a university but others will be old hands at the process because they’ll have gone though it for younger siblings or they may have been university students themselves.

If you’re new to the process or you’ve not been to one of these Open Days for a few years then you will need to plan your day (including the travel and parking arrangements) will military precision. With more and more students looking to go to university the Open Days are usually heaving and simply getting to the University can be a challenge – if you’re not a lover of “Park and Ride” then you might just have to relax your prejudices because at Universities like Exeter its pretty much the only way you can get to the campus and whilst they’re well planned the “Park and Ride” aspect can add around 2+ hours to your day!

Once on the campus it can be pretty intimidating finding your way around and if you’ve got pre-booked subject talks then the pressure will be on to find the right lecture room and get a seat. Most sessions will be rammed so it’s a good idea to get their early (Park and Ride permitting!).

There is always lots of information on hand from the University and the various departments and of course they’ll be plenty of additional information of admissions, financing and accommodation to take in on the day.

Lots of universities go out of their way to ensure that on arrival you have a hard copy of the university or college prospectus, details of the fees and any bursaries etc. information on the application process, a map of the university and occasionally a food voucher to redeem in one of the university restaurants and a welcome bottle of water to keep you hydrated during what can be a long and exhausting day!

You might also get the occasional insert or flyer from the Students Union that will give you a taster of the range of extra-curricular activities that are on offer at the University.

An “Open Day” is after all the universities opportunity to sell themselves to you and your son or daughter. Competition amongst the universities to bag the best and brightest students is fiercer than ever and Open Days (as well as exam results) play a huge part in helping students decide where to apply to.

Whilst a promotional USB Memory Stick printed with the universities logo is not going to influence anyone’s university choice it is interesting how many are now supplying these to prospective students as part of the packs they hand out. The promotional USB sticks are typically pre-loaded with copies of the prospectus and all the important forms any prospective student might need. With as much as 8GB of space available on even the most basic USB Stick many universities are increasingly loading videos onto the sticks illustrating student life on campus as well as offering links to Social Networking and Web sites. If you’re visiting lots of universities over the next few months it will be interesting to see just how many USB memory sticks you can acquire!

The way in which universities now engage with prospective students has changed enormously over the past few years. Aside from USB sticks other techniques include:

  • QR codes that can be scanned by Smart Phones and take the students directly to the University (or University department) web sites).
  • Facebook pages that allow the students to engage with the university, current and prospective students.
  • Twitter pages that deliver live news/information snippets.
  • Smart phone apps
  • Email and text updates

This year with around 500,000 university places to fill expect the tens of thousands of USB sticks to be given away and for the airways to be full of tweets, emails and chatter. Times have certainly changed!

USB Sticks for University Open Days

USB Sticks for University Open Days

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Take Care You Don’t Get Duped When Buying Promotional USB Flash Drives

Posted by USB2U on 1st June 2015 | Permalink

It’s a jungle out there and unless you keep your wits about you it’s very easy to fall prey to the scammers when you buy promotional USB flash drives. The sale of fake or “dodgy” flash drives used to be more common on sites like eBay but more recently the fraudsters have realised it’s easier to make money by selling them in volume to unsuspecting corporate buyers.

The biggest risk you take is buying your USB sticks from an overseas seller and more specifically a seller based in China. The fundamental problem is that you won’t know what you’re buying until your goods arrive (by which time you’ll have paid for them) and if you end up with shoddy or fake goods then there are very few options to get your money back. If you’re a company and you’re buying the sticks with your logo printed on then you’ll nearly always be asked to send your payment by telegraphic transfer to an account domiciled in China – getting your money back if things go pear shaped is a non-starter.

Whilst the initial email exchanges with the fraudsters can often go well its what’s ultimately delivered that is important. The most common trick employed includes “masking” the flash memory inside the USB stick so that for example a 512MB flash stick looks like an 8GB stick when you plug it into your PC – this is pretty easy to do and you’ll only know you’ve been sold a “pup” when you try and load more than 512MB of data onto the flash drive.

The fraud won’t be that obvious because it will look like your data has transferred fine – it’s only when you take the USB stick out and re-inset it that you’ll realise the data you thought had been transferred is not there!

Equally if you just look at the “properties” of the flash drive when its plugged into your PC (or Mac) it will say it’s an 8GB drive but it reality its only a 512MB that has been “masked”.

The other thing to watch out for (but again not easy to spot) is the use of recycled and/or reclaimed flash memory chips. These will have very slow read/write speeds and they might only work a few times. So what might look like a bargain 8GB flash drive could well turn out to be a recycled, slow 1GB flash drive that’s only going to last a couple of months!

Of course all of this is really bad news and it’s even worse if the USB sticks carry your company’s logo on them! The best way to avoid these issues is to buy your promotional flash drives from a reputable supplier in your own country. Check they have a “real” address and a real phone number so if things do go wrong you can get back in touch with them.

Use the Internet as your friend and check out customer reviews on the company. Don’t just buy on price and price alone particularly if you’re buying from an overseas supplier – it’s tempting but it’s the shortest route to being scammed, losing your money and damaging your brand and reputation.

USB2U and relax

Choose USB2U and Relax -you’re in safe hands!

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Aargh!! – Can’t get the USB Sticks! Don’t Panic. We’re The 4th Emergency Service

Posted by USB2U on 19th May 2015 | Permalink

It happens – the excitement, the stress, the pressure and the desire to do a brilliant job and show to everyone how capable you are but then the smallest little detail trips you up and it all goes pear shaped. That career defining moment becomes a career defining moment for all the wrong reasons!

We’ve all been there and its not pleasant. It’s that sinking, horrible feeling you get in the pit of your stomach when it suddenly dawns on you that your job or career is on the line because of things that are outside of your control. However, if you’ve simply forgotten to do something then arguably you’re at fault and you’ll have to live with the consequences no matter how painful they are.

But, if you’ve been working diligently on a project that has a hard deadline and right at the last minute you’re let down by a supplier that they can’t deliver your on time then it might not exactly be your fault but the consequences might be just as painful.

All the planning and preparation in the world can’t accommodate these little “bombs” when they happen but what you can do is try and factor in a little contingency in your schedule. Its not always easy and we understand that “contingency” has a nasty habit of just being “absorbed” in the project.

If the cause of your angst is the supply of promotional USB memory sticks then don’t panic. At USB2U we pride ourselves on being the “4th Emergency Service” of the branded USB memory stick world. Unlike most other suppliers who simply place your order on a factory in China, at USB2U we brand and finish over 50% of all USB sticks we supply in our office in the UK. We always carry tens of thousands of USB sticks in stock and we can print, engrave, data-load and package them in just few hours!

Our Trustpilot reviews (over 3,000 predominantly 5* “Excellent” reviews) are full of customers who’ve been amazed by our ability to get them out of trouble and turn around their order in a matter of hours.

We don’t limit you to just one model, one colour and one memory size either – if you do need to use our “Rush Service” then you’ll typically have over 20 different models to choose from in a range of colours and memory sizes! We also carry a wide range of gift boxes (which we can also brand), lanyards, keyrings and other accessories.

The best thing to do if you’re in a hurry is call us. Our experienced team can talk you through the options, they’ll explain what we need from you to handle your order and give you a firm idea about when we can deliver for you (typically it’s within 24hrs unless we happen to be incredibly busy)

Rush USB Stcks

Rush USB Stcks

 

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Re-formatting Promotional USB Memory Sticks

Posted by USB2U on 14th May 2015 | Permalink

If you’ve been lucky enough to be given a promotional USB memory stick then there’s a strong likelihood that it will have lots of data already pre-loaded onto it by the company who’s giving them away. Typical files pre-loaded onto a promotional USB tend to include videos, copies of presentations, product data sheets, press releases etc. etc. Usually these files are not “locked” because to do this they’d have to be loaded onto the USB sticks during the manufacturing process so, they’ll just be normal copies of files that can be deleted.

If you want to remove these pre-loaded files so that you can use all of the available space for your own data (after you have fully read and absorbed the content put on the sticks of course – it’s only polite) then it’s pretty simple.

The best way to erase all of the files on a USB memory stick (including any hidden files) is to format the stick. At the end of the format process it will be completely clean of all data and you’ll then be able to create folders and sub-folders to transfer your own personal data back into it.

Promotional USB Memory Sticks

Promotional USB Memory Sticks

To format any USB Memory Stick just follow these simple steps:

Step 1 – Transfer any Data from the USB stick to your PC

We strongly recommend that you take a copy of the files on the promotional USB stick before you format it. Just drag and drop the contents from the stick to your PC (or Mac). Formatting your USB memory stick completely erases the memory stick so if you want any of your data then its critical you copy it first. Once you’ve started the format process there is no way back so please check any copies of the data before you start the process.

Step 2 – Formatting your USB Memory Stick on a PC

This is pretty straightforward but it does worry some people because if you get it wrong you can end up formatting the hard drive of your PC (Ouch!). To get started just “click” on the Windows “Start” icon in the bottom left hand corner of your PC and then click on “My Computer” (or “Computer” in Vista or Windows 7). Once done your PC will perform a quick scan and show you all of the drives (hard drives and external memory devices like USB Sticks) installed or connected to your PC.

You need to identify the drive that has a “Removable Disk” icon. – click on it to be absolutely sure it is your USB Memory Stick. Once you are sure right-click on the “Removable Disk” label. From here you will see a small drop down menu that includes the option to “Format” – click this.

At this point a dialog box will open giving you a couple of options; Leave the “Quick Format” option unchecked because this will make sure absolutely everything is deleted and deleted without errors. Click the “Start” button on the dialog and wait for your USB memory stick to be fully formatted.
Step 3 – Re-load your files

Once your USB Memory Stick has been formatted you’ll have a blank canvas to work with. Its recommended that you then create folders and sub-folders to copy your saved data back into to and that you then get into the habit of saving your data in a structured and organised way.
If you’re a Mac user you can still format your USB Memory Stick as follows:

Load up the “Disk Utility” program. You’ll find this in the “Utilities folder” which you access via the “Applications folder”. Your USB memory stick should be in the list showing a white drive icon. Click that icon and select the “Erase” tab on the main window to start the erase (format) process.

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More on Why the Promotional Twister USB Flash Drive Remains Top Pick

Posted by USB2U on 12th May 2015 | Permalink

We’ve been supplying promotional USB flash drives for over 12 years and in this time we’ve lost track of the tens of thousands of customers we’ve supplied millions of flash drives to. What we do know is that one of the very first drives we sold was the “Twister” but what we didn’t anticipate is that 12 years on it would still be the most popular product we sell.

Despite new and innovate designs of USB sticks being released every year the Twister has stubbornly remained the top choice and if current trends are any indication it’s going to remain the buyer favourite for the foreseeable future.

Below we list just some of the reasons why we think this particular USB memory stick will continue to dominate the promotional gift market:

  1. There’s no cap to lose. The Twister (also known as the Swivel or Rotate) gets its name because part of the body (called the “clip”) twists around to protect the USB connector. Because of this no cap is needed and of course there is therefore no cap to lose!
  2. It’s reasonably small – it’s not the smallest but some of the new models are just too small to print on and people worry about losing them. The sizing of the Twister seems to be just about spot on, not too big and not too small.
  3. It looks great printed or engraved! The “clip” the section that is printed has a good print area, its flat and they look good irrespective of whether you print onto them or engrave onto them.
  4. They are available in hundreds of standard colours so it’s easy to match them to the primary colour(s) from any logo. Even if you can’t find a standard colour that works for you its pretty cheap (around £30 as a one-off fee) to get them pantone matched.
  5. The “clips” on any branded Twister USB memory stick can be changed very easily. The beauty of this is that you can change the design or logo printed on them without having to buy new memory sticks – you just order some more printed clips and pop them on! It takes seconds to do and buying clips costs pennies instead of pounds!
  6. The “clips” on a Twister can be supplied in different colours so you can mix and match body colours with clip colours to create an effect that works for your logo/campaign. It’s the sort of simple and easy customisation that lots of car manufacturers are doing very successfully at the moment.
  7. Attaching a lanyard or key ring attachment is easy because there is an integral loop built into the rotating clip on the twister.
  8. Sheer manufacturing volume means that the Twister is the most competitively priced of all promotional USB sticks. 4GB and 8GB are popular sizes at the moment but you can buy them as a promotional giveaway up to 32GB (64GB coming soon)
  9. Held in stock ready for personalisation, data-loading and delivery in just 24hrs. At USB2U we hold tens of thousands of the Twisters in stock in our Northampton office so we can deliver them (fully branded up) in hours rather than days!
  10. We love them!

There have been plenty of new pretenders that have tried to steal the crown of the Twister Flash Drive over the years but they have all be vanquished. For now at least the Twister is the King and nothing in the near term looks set to change this.

Twister USB Memory Sticks

Twister USB Memory Sticks – Top Pick for over a decade!

New Wooden USB Twisters from USB2U

New Wooden USB Twisters from USB2U

 

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