USB flash drives are usually a yawner, something that is more of a giveaway item (at least to the press) at trade shows than something that deserves a blogger's attention. However, LaCie has introduced the XtremKey USB 3.0 flash drive in 32 GB (US$84.99) and 64 GB ($139.99) versions, and it's definitely worth your time to read about this ruggedized flash drive.
Design and Functionality
The XtremKey can handle just about anything you throw at it. In the video embedded at the bottom of this post, LaCie puts one to the test in a deep-fat fryer (along with some tasty sweet potato fries!), dipped in a bottle of liquid nitrogen, immersed in burning alcohol, placed under a steamroller on asphalt, and hacked with a machete. If it can put up with this and still keep your data safe with AES 256-bit encryption, it's definitely going to survive a ride in your pocket with your keys. You can take the XtremKey scuba diving down to 200 meters (656 feet), and it's designed to take a 10 meter (32.8 feet) drop without a problem.
The XtremKey gets its stark good looks from French designer Constance Guisset, who placed the brains of the flash drive inside a steel truncated cone with a threaded and o-ring sealed opening on one end. At the top of the cone is a hole for a key ring, and the rest of the device is unadorned except for some markings on the slightly rounded bottom end. Note: if you don't like things to move on your desk, you're probably going to dislike what Guisset did here -- when you place the XtremKey in an upright position, it wobbles a bit and finally settles down. To quote LaCie, "While it's standing on its end, its equilibrium is fragile and awkward. It dances on the tables and always finds a non-straight position."