Apacer Handy Steno AH321 USB 2.0 Flash Drive
A brainwavez.org Hardware Review

South Africa By: Mandy J Watson on 4 May 2010
Category: Tech > Hardware > Reviews
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The entry-level Apacer Handy Steno AH321 USB 2.0 Flash Drive features a no-loss cap design and storage capacities from 1 GB to 16 GB, as well as some impressive performance capabilities.

Apacer's Handy Steno range of flash-memory storage devices that begin with the number "3" indicate its functional- or urban-stylish range (in other words, devices that are more entry level in nature but still with a stylish leaning), in contrast to the fashion range, such as the AH160 and AH161 plus. The Handy Steno AH321 unit that I tested was a 4 GB device and the various capacities are all available in the gender-neutral red-and-white pairing.

Apacer Handy Steno AH321The no-loss cap design works as follows: there's a groove at the base of the unit that the lid's "handle" clips into - except it's too loose and doesn't clip in far enough (certainly on the unit that I tested) and is therefore likely to be more of a "quick-loss" experience. This is unfortunate as it mars what is otherwise a perfectly functional device.

Beyond this there is nothing physically wrong with the device in terms of performance but it does have a cheap, plasticky look and feel about it so it's not one of my favourite Apacer units. The bevelled edges of the unit are also unpleasantly sharp to the touch and the plastic isn't particularly durable - my test unit was already slightly scuffed and scratched straight out of the protective plastic store packaging. However, the red plastic is slightly transparent so if you're interested in the inner "workings" of a USB flash-memory storage device you can have a look without opening one up.

In terms of operational concerns I had no problems or errors with the device and its USB 2.0 read and write speeds, which you can refer to in the table below, are some of the best I've seen so far for an Apacer device. It beat most of the top speeds set in most of the categories by the Apacer Handy Steno AH160, brainwavez.org's previous top performer, and it will be interesting to see if it remains one of the top-placed USB 2.0 units. (We will find out in the next few months as I have quite a few more Apacer Handy Steno devices to test and review.)

Apacer Handy Steno AH321
(4 MB)
Benchmark Results
CrystalDiskMark 2.2
Settings: 5 passes, 100 MB test size
(5 tests run; results in megabytes per second)
Test TypeTest 1Test 2Test 3Test 4Test 5
Sequential Read:15.64315.40715.43415.47515.389
Sequential Write:5.9025.6165.7455.8755.798
Random Read 512 KB:15.07515.35515.40315.47615.403
Random Write 512 KB:2.0022.1661.9651.9632.053
Random Read 4 KB:4.2814.1274.2044.1984.097
Random Write 4 KB:0.0280.0290.0280.0300.029
Settings: 5 passes, 1000 MB test size
(5 tests run; results in megabytes per second)
Test TypeTest 1Test 2Test 3Test 4Test 5
Sequential Read:15.7715.73715.58815.73515.734
Sequential Write:6.0295.1275.1005.1385.112
Random Read 512 KB:15.7416.13415.32315.69215.661
Random Write 512 KB:1.9951.6731.6991.8661.857
Random Read 4 KB:4.2564.3583.9424.0334.038
Random Write 4 KB:0.0240.0240.0240.0240.024

Apacer Handy Steno AH321The unit's operations are indicated via a yellow-green (which Apacer calls "bright green", but it's being filtered through red plastic) LED indicator and, as with most of the units in the Handy Steno range, the Apacer Handy Steno AH321 supports Apacer's ACE (Apacer Compression Explorer) software for Windows, which you must download separately from the Apacer web site (it's a small download) and which provides password protection and compression facilities for your files.

The Apacer Handy Steno AH321 is perfectly functional but a consumer's choice of one product over another is based on five aspects: storage capacity, (perceived) product reliability, (personally attractive) aesthetics, usability, and price. In this case the visual and tactile aesthetics are lacking, and there is a usability problem in the not-so no-loss cap design.

It's not often that Apacer misses the mark when it comes to a USB storage device but, considering some of the spectacular units that can be found elsewhere in Apacer's catalogue, this one is not recommended.

Apacer Handy Steno AH321

The Apacer Handy Steno AH321 review unit was provided by Apacer.

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Rating: 4/10

Key Facts
Manufacturer: Apacer
Storage Capacity: 1 GB, 2 GB, 4 GB, 8 GB, 16 GB
Weight: 8g
Dimensions: 60.8x18.8x8mm (LxWxH)
Interface: USB 2.0 certified, backwards compatible with USB 1.1; supports hot swapping
Power Supply: USB bus powered, no external power supply necessary
Power Consumption: 115 mA (maximum)
Performance (Maximum): Read: 10 MB/second; Write: 3 MB/second
Indicators: Bright Green LED (detect, read, and write)
Operating System Support:
Windows: Windows 98*, Windows 98SE*, Windows ME, Windows 2000, Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7 and above
* drivers required
Mac OS: Mac OS 8.6 and above
Linux: Linux 2.4.0 and above
Operating Temperature: 0°C to +70°C (+32°F to +158°F)
Storage Temperature: -25°C to +70°C (-13°F to +158°F)

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