Posted by USB2U on 16th May 2012 | Permalink
If you’re planning to get married this year and you’re using the services of a professional wedding photographer then you might want to think about the best way to take delivery of your wedding day portfolio.
When the day is over and all you have left are some fabulous memories (and hopefully your partner!) then it’s your photo’s that will help bring the day back to life and help you enjoy and celebrate the day all over again with your family and friends.
Tradition dictates your wedding photos are supplied in a professionally produced Album that reflects the day. Most specialist wedding photographers will have their own portfolio of Albums that you can choose from with price breaks to reflect the quality and size of the Album. But, given that most photographers now use digital cameras for their shoots and then edit the digital images after the day it’s not unusual to be offered a CD or DVD with your wedding photographs on as well (typically for an extra fee).
USB flash drives
The digital images supplied on the CD/DVD will typically be high resolution .jpg that are viewable on most PC’s and Macs. Because they are “high resolution” images each image can be quite a large file and this is one of the reasons why photographers have historically chosen CD’s and DVD’s over other products like USB flash Drives. Flash drives (whilst available with large amounts of storage) have been comparatively much more expensive than a CD and it’s been easier to get hold of CD’s and DVD’s locally and print a label for it before they hand it out to their clients.
But, things are changing:
- Storage capacities on USB flash drives are increasing all the time and a typical USB flash drive has between 4GB – 16GB of storage – more than enough to store hundreds of high quality photographs on!
- Costs are falling – only a year ago an 8GB USB flash drive would have costs around £15, today it’s less than half of this.
- Less PC’s and Macs are shipping with a CD or DVD player because the technology is now considered “old” and unfashionable.
- Data transfer speeds for USB flash drives have taken a massive step forward with the introduction of USB 3.0 (which also works with PC’s running USB 1.x and 2.0) – this means it will be quicker for photographers to load their images onto a flash drive and it’ll be faster for you to view your photos
- Professional Wedding Photographers are gradually moving towards printed USB flash drives in snazzy presentation (gift boxes) – these look so much better than a CD/DVD and they make great gifts if you wanted to order a few to hand out to friends and family. You might even think about using some of them as wedding favours (pre-loaded with images of your courtship, things about you, the hen and stag night photos etc.)
If, like lots of couples you’re looking to post your wedding photos on Social Networking sites like Facebook, Google+ and Twitter then you’ll definitely want your photos supplied digitally. If you’re going to get them supplied digitally then don’t be surprised to be offered them on a USB flash drive.
Posted by USB2U on 18th October 2011 | Permalink
As one of the leading supplies of promotional and printed USB Flash drives we’re often asked for samples of the USB sticks we sell. Understandably with so many different types to choose from it’s not always easy to tell from an image on a web site which model will work best for your campaign or promotion.
Getting physical samples of the USB sticks you’ve short-listed together with good quality mock-ups of how your artwork will look on each short-listed stick is, in many cases, a pre-requisite before placing an order.
USB2U Sample Boxes
Up until now whilst we have been happy to send out samples they have been sent out in individual “poly” bags that doesn’t really help to illustrate them at their best. So, we’ve now “upped our game” and from now on we’re sending out samples in our own USB2U branded samples box. You choose which samples you want and we’ll send them out overnight so that you get them the following day.
All of our samples are supplied free of charge. They’re printed or engraved to show you the quality of the print you can expect on them (we can’t print your logo on the samples so they will be sent with example logos on). The samples are “dummy” samples so they won’t work but in all other respects they are actual samples that will convey the look, feel, weight and manufacturing quality.
To compliment the free sample service we also offer free design support services. If your logo is not quite good enough then we’ll offer to re-draw or re-work the artwork to get it “print ready”. If you want to see how your artwork will look on a range of different stick then no problem, we’ll produce mock-ups of each one. If you just need help trying to narrow down the choices then using our years of experience we can recommend options for you.
Our Free Samples offer is just one element of the overall service we offer. We want you to be happy with the choice of USB stick you make and more importantly we want you to be delighted with the final printed versions of your promotional USB memory sticks. Get your free, no-obligation quote and samples
Posted by USB2U on 28th March 2011 | Permalink
What a difference a few weeks make. It seems only yesterday that we were facing blizzard conditions with airports and roads closed and much of the UK’s infrastructure coming to a standstill. Look out of the window today and what a difference – the sun is up, temperatures are rising and despite all the doom and gloom about the economy, there’s a really positive feel in the air.
Spring is also a time when trade shows and trade fairs kick-off with a vengeance. Look at the schedule of forthcoming shows and you’re see a crammed diary with shows covering all manner of topics an subjects including flower shows, caravan fairs and birdwatching to name but a few. As we drag ourselves out of our “winter hibernation” many of the shows have a real Spring feel to them.
The exhibitors at these show and fairs invest huge sums of money to attract potential customers to their stands with the typical cost of attending a national show running into many thousands of pounds. For the larger companies a show budget running into six figures is not unusual.
Spring USB Flash Drives
The majority of the costs are taken up by fees to the shows organisers (space fees) and the costs of the booth or stand. Small “extras” at the show like power sockets, signage, carpets and build costs also add significantly to the typical spend.
Much of the job of driving customers to the shows tends to be left to the shows organisers but once the attendees are in the show halls its down to the exhibitors to get their stand to draw in the customers. Some companies will rely on the compelling nature of their products or offer to draw the customers in, others will be confident in the sales skills of their staff to lure customers to the stand but for many they’ll combine these with a “giveaway” that can be picked up on the stand.
Typical show giveaways include printed bags, promotional sweets (again, often branded with a logo), soft drinks, caps, pens and stress balls. Another technique is to run a business card draw for a larger gift like an iPad or iPhone – show attendees are simply encouraged to hand over a business card which in turn is included in the prize draw.
Another promotional product that is finding favour with exhibitors is the branded USB flash drive. These are customised versions of a standard flash drive that can be printed with the exhibitors company logo, phone number and web address and more importantly they can be pre-loaded with the exhibitors sales brochures, price lists, product images, video clips and audio files.
The beauty of the branded USB flash drive is that it has a high perceived value, it will, without doubt, be popular and attract customers and its costs can be offset by the saving made by not printing and transporting brochures etc. Unlike other “giveaways” that frequently end up in the bins outside of the exhibition halls USB flash drives will be kept and will, in most cases, be used again and again so any company using them will be assured on on-going brand exposure.
Whilst promotional products and giveaways typically account for less than 5% of a show budget it’s important that this spend works and is effective not only during the show but also ideally after the show. Branded USB flash drives deliver on this aspiration hence why more and more of them will be given away at trade show and fairs this year.
Posted by USB2U on 11th January 2011 | Permalink
When it comes to selling USB memory sticks and flash drives over the web frauds and scams are rife. The problem seems particularly bad on eBay where lots of people are lured into buying what, on the face of it, seem like genuine high capacity flash drives only to discover when they arrive that they are fake.
The fakes might look like the real thing but when they are used its typical to discover that for example the purported 16GB flash drive only contains 4GB of flash memory and that memory has been “masked” to look like a 16GB drive. If you plug the flash drive into a USB port on your PC and check the properties of the flash drive it will look like a 16GB. Its only when you try and load more than 4GB of data onto the drives that you’ll get a “disk full” error message.
The other common issue is the quality and speed of the fake flash drives. Most fakes use cheap, grade “B” flash memory components some of which will be recycled. The problem with these components is that they have a high probability of failure and they typically have slow read/write speeds.
As a consumer if you are looking to buy a good quality and fast USB flash drive then buy from a known local supplier and ideally a supplier that is an approved reseller of well known brands like Kingston, Transcend, Buffalo and Sony. If you do this and you discover problems with the drive at least local consumer rights cover you and the return of the drive to the retailers is relatively easy.
Unfortunately these frauds are not restricted to the retail market but are beginning to creep into the highly competitive market for promotional USB flash drives. Promotional USB flash drives are sold to companies, school and universities in their millions every year and whilst they are ordered from local suppliers the USB drives are manufactured to order and flown in from China.
Pressure to reduce prices and win business has seen some unscrupulous local suppliers of branded USB flash drives supply “masked” flash drives and pass them off as drives of a higher capacity. So, companies taking delivery of what they thought were 1GB flash drives might only be getting 512MB drives or 4GB drives might only be 2GB drives. Ironically one of the parties caught up in this was a UK based Police Force who unwittingly purchased what they thought were 1GB flash drives. The USB drives were for distribution to students and they were pre-loaded with information on “awareness about theft and identify theft” but instead of being 1GB drives they were in fact masked 512MB drives.
The only way to be sure that you are getting what you are paying for is to load one of the USB flash drives to the limit and check that you can load 1GB of data onto a 1GB flash drive – you’re never going to get access to 100% of a 1GB drive because some of the capacity is used to manage the file allocation but you should typically be able to us around 95% of a 1GB drive.
The alternative is again to buy from known, trusted and reputable suppliers who have been around for a good number of years and who are not going to disappear overnight and who will stand behind any guarantee that’s on offer.
The old adage of “If something sounds too good to be true then it most likely is too good to be true” offers sound advice. If you are sourcing printed USB memory sticks for your school or company and one company’s price sticks out as being very competitive just check on exactly what you are getting and who they are and make absolutely sure you check the amount of memory on a random sample of the drives when they are delivered.
Posted by USB2U on 16th September 2010 | Permalink
At USB2U we’ve been fortunate over the years to work with some great clients and some fantastic brands. One thing that makes a great customer stand out is their ability to instinctively know which USB product will work best with their brand. They’ll often have very clear ideas of what they want, how their brand should be portrayed and typically they’ll push us to deliver something just that little bit special.
That’s not to say that we don’t value or appreciate every branded USB memory stick we produce or the business kindly entrusted to us by our customers its just when you’ve produced millions of USB flash drives its quite nice to be challenged to go just that little bit further. The examples illustrated on this page are, in our opinion, some great examples of top quality branded USB drives. The customer has either requested something interesting in terms of colour, packaging or product and in every case the end results look stunning and are a real credit to the brand.
Whilst USB flash drives are excellent for carrying data around on, when you’re buying them to give away to important clients or to promote your company’s brand or products its critical that they look right. After all part of the rationale for commissioning USB drives that are printed or engraved with your logo on is to build up a positive association with your brand and if the USB sticks you ultimately distribute look cheap and tacky
its going to reflect badly on you and will be money poorly spent.
These customers all had sufficient time in their project plans to ensure we were able to deliver exactly what they wanted including customised boxes and accessories in the case of Sony. Whilst it’s possible to produce printed USB flash drives in less than 48 hours, when you are in a rush, you inevitably end up having to compromise on the sticks you can use because subtle but key things like pantone matching of the body shells, custom boxes and custom lanyards all need at least 10 working days to manufacture (and deliver to you)
Of course there will always circumstances where you have little or no time to get some flash drives produced and if this is the case you find yourself in don’t despair because we do offer a “Rush Service” where we print from UK stock.
Zest USB Pens
Typically your USB drive options will be limited to the more popular styles, colours and memory sizes but it’s always worth calling to see what we can offer. If you let us have your artwork we can turn around a mock up for you in a couple of hours and get the whole process rolling for you.
So, if you can build the production of USB flash drives into your plans, allow at least 10 working days to be on the safe side but if you are caught out don’t panic just call us and we’ll do everything we can to help!
Posted by USB2U on 14th September 2010 | Permalink
USB Flash drives are incredibly popular and consequently we’re all using them more and more to store and carry our personal and work data and files around with us. But, just like any data that is stored digitally data saved onto a flash drives is susceptible to corruption and if this happens you could potentially lose your files or incur hefty fees to data recovery specialist to try and recover your files.
If you use USB flash drives then there are a few things you can do to reduce the risk of data corruption and loss and this starts with understanding exactly what a USB flash drive is and how it works. Once you have a grasp of the basics its then much easier to understand the “do’s and don’ts” of how you use them which in turn will hopefully reduce any failures.
What is flash memory
Flash memory is probably the most commonly used digital storage in use in the world today. Flash is “solid state” memory with no moving parts and data is written to it and erased from it electronically over and over again. If you own a mobile phone, digital camera, MP3, iPod, or USB flash drive then you’ll have a product, which uses flash memory, but as you might expect there are differences in terms of quality and performance between the different types of flash memory flash available in the market.
The different types of flash memory typically used are:
Single Layer Cell Flash Modules (SLC) – This is the most expensive of all the flash modules you can buy because it uses less power (which in turn gives better battery life), it has excellent read/write speeds and because the data is written into a single cell (one bit of data is stored in a single cell) it is less susceptible to corruption. The vast majority of branded USB flash drives supplied by USB2U use SLC flash modules.
Multi Layer Cell Flash Modules (MLC) – As the name implies these flash modules store two bits of data per cell and hence can store twice the amount of information but with this improved data storage comes slight higher power consumption and a lower expected life. Because it’s cheaper than SLC flash modules MLC is commonly found in everyday consumer products.
Triple Layer Cell Flash Modules (TLC) – TLC flash modules are the cheapest type of flash available today. They allow you to write three bits of data to each data cells but the trade off is slower read/write speeds and a much lower life expectancy coupled with a greater propensity to fail. As such TLC flash modules tend to be used in “low end” consumer products where data storage is not “critical”.
Understanding how flash memory works:
Flash memory is a solid state “chip” that has no moving parts – it looks like a small printed circuit board encased in rubber so its not particularly exciting to look at but more importantly it is small, quiet, uses little power and generates hardly any heat. Data is “written” to the flash electronically as a series of “bits” and is erased in the same way.
Typical reasons for data corruption:
Life expectancy reached – Flash modules have a life expectancy and when reached they can lose their ability to retain data. Typically this is several thousand read/write cycles but the life expectancy will vary depending on the quality of chip used.
Condensation – If the products the flash modules are used are subjected to extremes of temperatures or humidity this can cause the flash module to short circuit or for corrosion of the contacts to build up.
Premature Removal – the most common reason for data loss when using a USB flash drive is removing the USB flash drive whilst it is still in use and without going through the “stop” and “safely remove” process. Doing this typically won’t damage your flash drive it will commonly lead to the loss of some/all of the data.
Branded USB Flash Drives
If you use USB flash drives to store critical data on then its worth ensuring you buy flash drives that use top grade flash chips (SLC chips) and you should make sure when you use the flash drive that you “stop” the drive using the “safely remove hardware” option before you physically remove it from the PC. Also bear in mind that flash memory degrades over time and has a life expectancy which when reached will mean permanent failure. So, if you’ve got a USB flash drive that’s been used regularly over a number of years its probably not a good idea to rely on it for the storage of critical data or precious photo’s!
Posted by USB2U on 25th May 2010 | Permalink
As IBM have found out to their cost it pays to be very careful who you buy your promotional flash drives from and you need to make sure that your supplier checks the disks before they are shipped out to you.
Somewhat ironically at a Security Conference held in Australia this week IBM staff were unknowingly handing our promotional flash drives with malware on them. The flash drives were distributed free to prospective customers that approached the their booth. The malware is apparently known by a number of names and is contained in the setup.exe and autorun.ini files. The malware (virus) is spread when the infected USB drive is inserted into any Microsoft Windows PC or server. On insertion the setup.exe and autorun.ini files (the virus) run automatically.
Branded Flash Drives
For those unlucky enough to have used the USB drives IBM have provided steps to deal with the problem but the fixes are not easy or straightforward and include recommendations to reinstall the core operating system on any PC that become infected.
Obviously this the wrong sort of PR for IBM and its not pleasant for anyone affected but should it put you off using flash drives as a promotional tool or accepting a flash drive from any company giving? The short answer is no. Flash drives make excellent promotional products and tens of millions of them are purchased and distributed at trade shows, seminars, conferences and fairs every year. They are incredibly useful, popular and cost effective gifts particularly if they are pre-loaded with sales material, brochures, presentation slides etc. But, we recommend a couple of important things to consider when buying your promotional flash drives:
- Pre-loading data such as PDF’s, PowerPoint sides, spreadsheets, Word documents etc. is fine but think carefully before you ask for auto-run files to be pre-loaded onto your flash drives. Auto-run files seem like a good idea because they force the user to view your pre-loaded information but you do, as IBM have discovered, run a very small risk with auto-run files of introducing malware.
- Choose your supplier of branded flash drives very carefully and make sure they understand the risks associated with data-loading and managing auto runs. It’s also worth checking to see what procedures they have in place to check for spurious files before they supply the flash drive to their customers.
The circumstances IBM have found themselves in are unfortunate but some basic checks before the flash drives were distributed could have avoided the issues altogether. Whilst these issues will make some companies and individuals think twice about using or accepting promotional flash drives it would be wrong to write-off one of the most popular promotional products in the market today because of one or two avoidable incidents.
Posted by USB2U on 10th July 2009 | Permalink
Yesterday we received the USB drives. They look good, really good… it’s a shame they’ve now got to go out to our customer!!!! and even our repair centre manager was impressed what had been done at such a low price.
Will now be looking to source most forms of USB keys from yourselves. They’re not totally common, and they come in dribs & drabs… not usually in this kind of quantity… So minimum & maximum stock levels will have to be set up for this.