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Posts Tagged ‘flash drive’

Here we go again – USB Memory Sticks Prices Shooting Up

Thursday, July 5th, 2012

Well, I suppose having been in the industry and supplied printed USB memory sticks for nearly 10 years that we ought to know by now that prices tend to shoot up in July! Maybe it was just wishful thinking and a forlorn hope that this year it might be a little bit different but it looks like our hopes have been dashed.

This week alone the price of 2GB flash chips (the core component of any USB memory stick) have shot up by 15%. Some of the other memory sizes are not as badly affected but the general trend is most definitely up. A specific flash chip type (UDP) which is commonly used in Credit Card USB flash drives and key style USB flash drives has been particularly badly hit.

Choppy Waters for USB Flash Drive Pricing

Choppy Waters for USB Flash Drive Pricing

Flash drives prices have not been helped by a falling pound (GBP £) – all flash memory is traded in US dollars so as the pound falls the price of USB sticks rise.

This article (USB Flash Drive Price Trends in 2010) written by us in January 2011 and examining price trends for USB flash drives for 2010 shows that we went through almost an identical price rises in 2010 with increases of 5-10% across the board being the norm. If the same trend is followed this year then we’re going to have to wait until October before prices start to fall again.

If you were looking for the best time to buy USB flash drives then unfortunately you’ve just missed it! As in 2010 the month of June looks to have been the best month to buy your branded or promotional USB sticks. If you have to buy now then expect to pay a premium, if you’re looking to place a repeat order, expect prices to have gone up! If you’re able to wait prices will probably be back at or below June 2012 prices in late Q4.

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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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Laser Engraved USB Flash Drives – Logos that last!

Tuesday, May 29th, 2012

If you’re thinking of ordering yourself some promotional USB flash drives and you’re fixed on getting them printed then you might just want to take a few minutes to consider getting your logo laser engraved rather than printed.

Whilst there is no escaping the fact that printing does look good and with printing you have a wide choice of flash drives models to choose from and you can of course get your logo printed in full colour. The downside with printing is that over time the print will begin to chip and wear away leaving behind a logo that might not be legible.  The resilience of the print will vary depending on the material that the USB stick is made from and how well they are printed in the first place.

Engraved USB Flash Drives

Engraved USB Flash Drives

Printing onto metal or aluminium USB flash drives can be tricky because you have to carefully clean and prime the metal surface before you print and then you need to bake them in a commercial print oven to get the print to adhere properly.  Any mistakes in this process can result in the ink coming off pretty quickly in general use.

Printed metal USB drives that are used on a key ring come in for a significant amount of punishment and are particularly susceptible because the sharp edges of the keys “break the tension” of the print on the metal and once this tension is compromised the rest of the print tends to flake away pretty quickly.

Digital printing or screen printing onto a plastic surface tends to offer a more robust solution but even these techniques won’t guarantee the print eventually failing.

If you really do want you logo to last and look as good after a few months as the day they were supplied then it’s definitely worth considering getting your USB flash drives laser engraved.

Engraved Flash Drives

Engraved Flash Drives

Laser engraving as the name suggests “etches” the surface leaving a high precision finish that is permanent and won’t rub or scratch off. Laser engraving is popular on a wide range of promotional products (including USB flash drives) but it’s a technique that is also widely used in industry to permanently mark medical devices, instruments, buttons, tags, car parts, bar codes and lots ore besides.

With engraving you will have to compromise on the colour the logo is produced in (but you can select a range of different coloured USB flash drives) but at least you’ll know the logo will be produced to a high level of accuracy and more fundamentally that it will last the test of time.

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Price of 8GB Promotional USB Flash Drops by 50% in 12 months

Monday, April 30th, 2012

Over the last 12 months the price of flash memory has followed a long established downward trend but compared to previous year on year falls the drop in prices over the last 12 months have been pretty dramatic.

If you’d been looking to buying 8GB promotional USB flash drives printed with your logo and pre-loaded with your company data this time two years ago then you’d have expected to pay around £15 per USB stick. A year ago the same USB sticks would have cost around £10 each but today the price (depending on the quantity ordered) has dropped to around £4- £5 per unit!

That’s a huge amount of professionally produced and printed data storage for about the cost of a large swanky coffee! Just think about how many documents, catalogues, price lists, movie files etc. you could fit onto an 8GB drive and give out or send to your customers – give them an 8GB USB drive and they’ll almost certainly keep it and use it because whatever you pre-load onto it before your hand them out and they’ll still be tons of space left for your customers or clients to load their own data onto the drive.

USB Price Falls

USB Price Falls

Unsurprisingly with these price reductions what we used to consider “larger” USB capacity sizes (4GB and 8GB) are now becoming the de facto choice for many. After all, the price differential between 1GB sticks and 8GB sticks is now only a £1 or two but the perceived value of an 8GB flash drive is still incredibly high.

A consequence of the move to larger flash memory sizes is that smaller “give-away” memory sizes of 128MB, 256MB and 512MB are getting harder to source – the simple reason for this is that very few factories (if any) are still producing memory chips of this size because it is simply not cost effective for them to do so. Effectively these small memory chips have gone “end of life” and where they are offered they are often re-cycled chips or “off-cuts” from chips that were originally destined to be larger chips.

Underpinning the price falls are a combination of seasonal price falls (late Spring and early Summer is a quiet period for the factories and pricing reflects the sluggish demand), Moore’s Law (which states that the number of transistors on a chip will double approximately every two years), and a weakening USD ($) – flash memory is priced in $’s so any weakness against the GBP (£) = lower prices.

So, when you think promotional USB flash drives don’t think cheap and cheerful 128MB sticks but think cheap and very happy 8GB sticks!

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Extend the Memory of Your Raspberry Pi computer with A USB Flash Drive

Sunday, April 15th, 2012

It looks like the wait is finally over and the first batches of the eagerly anticipated Raspberry Pi computer are finally shipping.  OK, so they are being sent out a little later than originally planned because of manufacturing hiccups and last minute compliance testing but within the next few days the very first users of this sub £30 (including VAT and shipping) computer will be able to start connecting it all up and get coding!

Raspberry-PI

Raspberry-PI

Whilst it might not be the prettiest of products it has managed to generate a huge amount of interest and demand not least amongst developers, schools, hobbyists and others keen to get their hands on a cheap, easy-to-use computer.

The organization behind the Raspberry Pi, the Raspberry Pi Foundation (a UK registered charity) describes the Pi as “a credit-card sized computer that plugs into your TV and a keyboard. It’s a capable little PC which can be used for many of the things that your desktop PC does, like spreadsheets, word-processing and games. It also plays high-definition video. We want to see it being used by kids all over the world to learn programming.”

The Pi is built around the Arm chip that is used in the vast majority of mobile phones. It runs one version of the Linux operating system and uses SD cards as its “on-board” storage medium but it comes with USB ports so you easily add additional memory using a USB flash drive or other USB connected storage.

With the price of USB flash memory plummeting at the moment you could easily add an extra 2Gb – 8GB of extra storage from just a couple of pounds!

If you’re a school and you’re planning to buy the Raspberry Pi for your students then you might also want to think about getting some USB flash drives produced with your school logo or crest on specifically for use with the Raspberry Pi.  Better still, get them produced with the students names on and the Raspberry Pi logo (with the permission of the Raspberry Pi Foundation of course) and this way they can have their own personalized USB flash drives that are specifically for use with the computers and onto which their PC work can be saved.

If you really want to challenge the students you could buy them bare bones USB connectors and get them to design and build their own Raspberry Pi Flash Drives for use with the computer – ideal for students looking to take Design Technology and IT and a great way to excite them about both disciplines.

USB2U, one of the UK leading suppliers of printed USB Flash Drives can deliver (often within as little as 24hrs) printed or engraved USB Flash Drives.

“Raspberry Pi is a trademark of the Raspberry Pi Foundation”.

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Excuse the Flash Drive Nostalgia but we’re 10 years old in 2012

Thursday, February 23rd, 2012

We were recovering some data from an old PC hard drive this morning and came across a load of old photographic proofs of promotional USB flash drives we produced almost a decade ago. It’s amazing how quickly the last 10 years have gone and interesting to see how the market for printed and promotional USB flash drives has developed during this time.

In the early years we were selling a range of USB products (including USB flash drives) under the brand name of DirectUSBStore.  In those days flash drives were still relatively new, most of them were USB  1.0 (and then USB 1.1) rather than the faster USB 2.0 standard that is commonly used today. What’s perhaps more interesting is that the typical USB flash drive memory sizes ranged from 16MB to 128MB. Contrast this to today where 4GB is pretty much the de facto standard!

Customers that were buying USB flash drives were typically “early adopters” and although it’s not very PC to say it they were purchased mainly by men, and men who liked to be the first to get their hands on new “tech” – so nothing much has changed there then!

USB Flash drives were pretty slow to take off partly because they were still relatively expensive (the price for a 128MB was around £30 – £50 depending on the model and functionality). In contrast Zip Drives, Floppy Drives and CD’s were much cheaper, they held more data and most PC’s that were shipping around the time still had floppy diskette drives.

The dull design and styling of early flash drives did not help with customer adoption. Most of them were pretty basic and compared to today’s flash drives they were large, “chunky” and not particularly great to print or engrave a logo onto.  What they did have going for them was ease of use, portability and as the memory sizes increased, the ability to carry significantly more data than you could fit onto multiple floppy disk drives. The roll-out of USB ports onto all PC’s also ensured that flash drives could be used on pretty much any PC;  be that at home, work or school.

The high cost of the drives meant that only a handful of companies bought them for promotional use, some would get them printed with their logo on for internal distribution. Occasionally we’d get request from companies that planned to use them to target “early adopter” consumers or clients. Most of these companies were themselves high tech companies that wanted to use a promotional product that illustrated their “high-tech” credentials.

Roll the clock forward 10 years and most people under the age of 20 won’t know what a floppy disk drive or zip drive is! It’s amazing that in just a few short years these once ubiquitous storage products have been consigned to the bin.  Today sales ofCD’s and DVD’s (for data storage)  are in steep decline having been usurped by the king of storage – the USB Flash drive.

Today, USB Flash drives are a common business tool and are on the “kit list” for most schools and universities. They have also become one of the most given and most sought after promotional products with millions given away every year.

Their popularity has been underpinned by falling prices, larger memory sizes and the development of a phenomenal range of styles and designs. USB flash drives are now within financial reach of pretty much everyone and the type of flash drive used by someone can say as much about their style and fashion habits as their clothing.

Around 2006, DirectUSBStore spun off a two separate businesses; USBNow to focus on the supply of USB products and peripherals and USB2U to handle the massive growth in demand for branded and promotional USB sticks.  Today USB2U is widely regarded as the number one supplier in the UK and as a business we are looking forward to seeing what storage technology we’ll all be using in 10 years’ time.

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Now That’s What I Call A Fast Promotional USB Flash Drive

Friday, January 20th, 2012

OK, to be clear we’re not talking in the context of how quickly the promotional USB flash drives reads and writes data but more about how fast the raw, blank USB flash drive was turned into a stunning promotional product.

At 4pm yesterday we took an order from a customer who needed USB sticks in a hurry. They had their artwork ready and their credit card in hand ready to pay for them providing (and here’s the rub) they could be with them today!

Now at USB2U that’s the sort of challenge we like. So here’s what happened:

  • Order confirmed by customer at around 4pm
  • Artwork emailed over to their Account Manager
  • USB2U designer sets artwork, creates digital proof that is then emailed back to the customer for approval.
  • Customer give their approval
  • In anticipation of this the USB sticks are prepared ready for printing
  • Fifty USB sticks are printed as per the approved artwork, QA checked and signed off ready for despatch.
  • Overnight courier collects the printed USB flash drives at 5:15
  • The following day the promotional USB flash drives are delivered to a delighted customer who then dashed off to their event with them.

Now we’re not suggesting we can do this for every customer who calls us at 4pm in a panic but where we can help we’ll certainly go the extra mile.

Printed USB Memory Sticks

Printed USB Memory Sticks

Our normal rush service is 48hrs from order, we can often do 24hrs (if everything is ready in terms of artwork etc.) and very occasionally if the planets are in the right alignment and the team here are up for a collective challenge we can work minor miracles.

So, if you are looking for a supplier of promotional USB flash drives and a supplier that holds stock locally and can print the stock and get it to you quickly then give us a call. We like exceeding expectation whenever we can!

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Pity You Can’t Get This In Our USB Barrels

Monday, October 24th, 2011

Wick Whisky, a single malt distilled in one of Scotland’s most remote distilleries has been named the world’s best whisky and regrettably it is not available to us in our USB Barrels – we know because we’ve opened them all searching in vain for the elusive nectar!

The 21-year-old single malt Wick Whisky scored a record-equalling 97.5 points out of 100 beating 1,200 other entries to take the title ”World’s Best” Whisky

USB Barrel

USB Barrel

After tasting the tipple the judge described the whisky as absolutely exploding from the glass with vitality, charisma and class.

The winning whisky is matured in American oak casks and bottled at the Pulteney distillery in Wick, Caithness. The two runners up were both US bourbons.

Of course Scotland is famed the world over for its whisky but Pulteney is relatively new to the limelight simply because its lacks the financial muscle of other more popular brands. Hopefully this award will help whisky drinkers discover this wonderful drink.

Cost effective options open to whisky (and bourbon) distilleries to help promote their brand now include Twitter, Facebook and other Social Media channels but some are turning to exciting new products like USB Barrels (printed with the name of their whisky and pre-loaded with lots of facts and figures about the whisky).

The Custom USB Barrels supplied by USB2U are top quality products that reflect the brand values of the best whiskies in the world – they are made from a range of different real wood finishes and they are topped off with a metal screw cap.

They look fantastic printed or embossed and they attach to a keyring easily. Whilst they’re not World champions just yet they’re a champion product.

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No Day At A Theme Park Is Complete Without a USB Flash Drive

Monday, October 3rd, 2011

If you’re camera shy then you may find an outing to a Theme Park these days a little challenging! It’s pretty much impossible at any theme park to avoid having your photograph taken whilst you’re scared out of your wits or whilst you’re been drenched with water on the log flumes and other water rides.

The Theme Park operators know that these snaps make great souvenirs and they’re brilliant reminders of your day out albeit they can get a little tiresome on every ride, particularly if you’re a parent and your children insist on checking out their photos at the end of every ride and worse expect you to buy them!

Flash Drives at Theme Parks

Flash Drives at Theme Parks

If you are tempted to buy any of the photographs then the other hassle is carrying them around with you all day although some of the parks have a facility where you can order them at the end of each ride and pick them up on your way out.

Recently, some of the larger and more “switched on” theme parks have introduced an option to buy the ride photographs on a printed USB flash drive. This is a great idea because it’s far easier and a lot more convenient to carry around a small USB flash drive with you as you go around the park. Then, at the end of each ride if you see a photo you like you can simply hand over your flash drive and get the images copied onto it!

There are tons of different types of USB flash drives available to theme park operators but it’s no surprise that one of the more popular models is the USB wristband – these are easy to carry, easy to use, they’re fun, they appeal to parents and kids alike and they’re just that little bit different.

Photographs that are digitally stored on the USB drives are easy to print off on your own colour printer or alternatively uploaded to Social Networking sutes like Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr. Or, you could just email them around to your friends and family. OK, you could do the same with printed photos but you have to first go through all the hardship of scanning the photographs and uploading them onto your PC or Mac before you can do this.

W ickstead Park Wristbands

W ickstead Park Wristbands

Unfortunately there are only a few theme parks in the UK offering this solution but where it is available it’s proving popular so expect to see it adopted in much greater numbers pretty soon.

If you’re a theme park operator and you’re looking for a provider of the USB wristbands or any other style of USB memory stick then you might consider the team at USB2U. Established in 2002 USB2U has years of experience in the supply of all types of promotional and branded USB memory sticks including those supplied to Blackpool Pleasure Beach and Wickstead Park.

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Read This Before You Commit to Buy Printed USB Flash Drives

Thursday, September 22nd, 2011

The growth in the USB Flash Drive market continues unabated. Recent small prices increases (driven by the turmoil in the currency markets) have not been dampened demand and these days it’s unusual to attend a trade show, retail fair, university fresher’s fair, seminar or conference and not come away with at least one promotional USB flash drive!

The popularity of USB flash drives is primarily because they are an excellent way to distribute data, presentation slides, sales brochures, media files and so on whilst at the same time giving the recipient something that is genuinely useful and will therefore promote the brand that is printed on the USB drive beyond the event.

Printed USB Flash Drives

Printed USB Drives

If you’re in the market for printed USB flash drives for your company or school then there are some basic things you need to know and consider before you place your order with any supplier. Buying USB sticks is made all the more difficult because it’s not so much what they look like on the outside that matters but what goes inside the stick when its manufactured and with the growth in the market lots of unscrupulous sellers are making a quick killing by selling sub-standard, fake, or “masked” USB flash drives.

Here’s a quick checklist of things to ask:

Make sure you get Grade A flash memory chips inside the USB drives?

The memory chips inside any USB stick are the key component – they are what the data is stored on and if they fail you will lose you data files. Grade A chips are either branded (Hynix, Samsung etc.) or they are typically made on the same production lines but are OEM chips – both are OK but what you need to avoid are cheaper recycled chips or Grade B memory chips – these are either chips that have failed the QA checks, they are chips where some “sectors” have failed (e.g. they were manufactured as a 1GB but only 600Mb works) or they are flash chips that have been “recovered” from redundant products.

If you end up with anything other than Grade A memory chips you are highly likely to experience a higher failure rate, those flash drives that work will have a short life expectancy and they will typically have a slow read/write speed.

Make sure they are not masked

One of the more dubious tactics some USB flash drives supplies and factories are employing to win business is to “mask” the drives they supply – this is an industry terms for what amounts to fraudulently doctoring the memory to look as though it’s higher than it is.

In a typical scenario the factory will buy flash chips that failed the QA on the production lines because certain “sectors” of the memory chip could were “dead” – the chip (or wafer) did not fail in full just a proportion of it did. What the factory then does is take this partial chip and process it so that it looks OK – as an example they might dress up a 1GB chip with only 600MB of working memory to look like a 1GB again. It’ll look like a 1GB chip when you plug it into any PC but it won’t let you save more than 600MB of data to it. This is “masking” and it’s a practise that is being used more and more in the promotional sector because suppliers think the customers won’t check and they can get away with it!

Our advice is to always check a small sample of your USB flash drives – to do this you need to load data up to the advertised capacity on one PC, remove the USB drive and plug it in another PC – if some of the data is missing on the 2nd PC then you’ve been supplied USB flash drives with “masked” chips inside.

Will the Flash Drives comply with the RoHS regulations?

RoHS is the acronym that stands for the “Restriction of Hazardous Substances” and it applies to thousands of electrical and computer parts and components imported into the EU. USB flash drives have to comply with the RoHS EU Legislation and it is your responsibility to make sure that any you buy are compliant. The fines are significant so ensure you ask the right questions and if you’re uncomfortable with the answers get copies of the RoHS certificates to prove their compliance.

Above all when buying printed USB flash drives don’t just buy them based on the cheapest quote you get unless you have satisfied yourself that you know exactly what you’re buying. Ideally choose a local supplier that has a proven track record of delivery, a supplier that is going to be around if things do go wrong and a supplier you’re a confident can and will deliver on their promises. The USB drives will have your logo or brand on so they need to work or it will reflect badly on you and your company.

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