MSRP: $89.00 (for the 4GB unit we tested – varies)
We reviewed the 1 GB version of this product back in April and were very impressed with the functionality of the included tool kit and the overall styling of the set.
It doesn’t appear as if Cyber Snipa has changed the design of either the USB drive (this time they sent over a whopping 4 GB unit for us to review) or the accompanying Tool Kit, which includes two screwdrivers (one standard, one Phillips), a bottle opened and a pair of small pliers, as well as a very handy white LED flashlight, but that’s a good thing in our book. The look and feel of the pair is really the product’s strong suit, with an eye-catching brushed aluminum body, matte black plastic trim and reassuring heft.
The USB thumb drive works perfectly, installing itself on all of our Windows XP machines using the operating system’s native drivers, but honestly we would expect nothing less. Encryption software is pre-installed on the drive, but only a 30-day trial version – you’ll need to pony up an additional $15 if you want permanent access to it.
The tool kit is also just as handy as it ever was – we put our last one on a set of often-used keys and used it repeatedly for any number of tasks until we lost it. Which brings up one of our main complaints about the Cyber Snipa package: the included chain. It’s nothing but a government-issue break-away ID chain, the kind that you see lashing down pens at the Post Office or on military dog tags. The problem is (as we found the last time) that the USB Drive and Tool Kit are far heavier than a pair of tin ID tags, and the likelihood of loosing your expensive drive (or, worse the data stored on it) is quite high. Our first Tool Kit lasted about two weeks dangling from our keys before the chain snapped somewhere between our offices and… somewhere else. We never saw it again. We promptly lashed the USB drive to a proper cord and we still have – and use – it on a daily basis.
We get that Cyber Snipa is trying to use the “dog tag” metaphor for the USB Drive/Tool Kit set, but honestly, if you purchase the set (and we recommend you do, despite it’s somewhat lofty price tag) we can’t recommend strongly enough to also swing by the hardware store to get a $2 pair of small split-ring key chains and a proper nylon lanyard – doing so will make carrying them much safer.
We’re scoring the Cyber Snipa marginally higher than the last edition we tested, mainly because we notice that the 1 GB unit (which carried a MSRP of $70 in April) had dropped $20. While we’re happy that the manufacturer has decided to keep making the very stylish and unique Dog Tag set, there’s still room for improvement, namely in the sub-par chain.
Pros: Unique styling. Dead-simple installation – just plug and go. The Tool Kit is surprisingly handy, and can be used for a 1001 little jobs – from removing a PC case’s screws to fixing eyeglasses to finding your front door lock on a dark and stormy night. We really, really want to like this product for its overall design.
Cons: Unfortunately, as much as we appreciate the effort that went into the Dog Tag’s overall design, the included chain, quire frankly, has to go. We dinged the 1GB version back in April for this same issue, and we’re sad to say that it’s not improved at all – the same flimsy chain was included with the top-end 4GB unit. Frankly, I’m not going to trust a chain engineered to suspend tin-foil dog tags with a $90 USB drive – back in April, our Tool Kit was lost in less than a month when clipped to a set of keys. True, a nylon lanyard and split-ring keychain can be had quite easily for just a few bucks, but in our opinion these should have come standard with the kit. Also, the supplied encryption software is only trialware, and must be purchased for an additional fee. If and when Cyber Snipa addresses the chain issue, and sees their way to providing a fully-featured (and free) encryption application, then the Dog Tags will be just about perfect, but that day isn’t today.