Minkster Meitropolis Series Designer USB Flashdrives
A brainwavez.org Hardware Review

South Africa By: Mandy J Watson on 4 May 2011
Category: Tech > Hardware > Reviews
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Much like Mimobots and other designer USB storage devices, the Minksters are a combination of form and function and would look equally at home in your collection of miniature vinyl toys.

The Minksters are designer USB 2.0 flash-memory data storage devices that have been designed by Cape Town designer Alex Seaton and are manufactured in China. There are six designs in the Minkster Meitropolis Series - Dizi, Nik, Lex, Pums, Rics, and Poppy - and each has a storage capacity of 4 GB.

I was originally sent a sample of Poppy to test (although inside they are, of course, all the same) and as you can see from the table below, the read speeds were very good across all test types but the write speeds were very slow.

Minkster Meitropolis Series: Poppy
(4 GB)
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:17.38117.38417.37817.36617.372
Sequential Write:4.3874.3954.4044.4094.413
Random Read 512 KB:17.34317.36317.37217.32017.340
Random Write 512 KB:0.7760.8690.8040.8590.769
Random Read 4 KB:3.9183.9273.8853.8553.897
Random Write 4 KB:0.0080.0080.0080.0080.008
Settings: 5 passes, 1000 MB test size
(5 tests run; results in megabytes per second)
Test TypeTest 1Test 2Test 3Test 4Test 5
Sequential Read:17.42217.37617.33317.33417.373
Sequential Write:4.3744.3764.3824.3524.387
Random Read 512 KB:17.36617.34017.37817.29817.338
Random Write 512 KB:0.7680.7560.8320.8190.760
Random Read 4 KB:3.7943.8613.8563.7533.923
Random Write 4 KB:0.0070.0080.0070.0070.007


[Compare to the Apacer Handy Steno AH160, Apacer Handy Steno AH161 plus, or the Apacer Handy Steno AH321 for reference.]

I'm a bit of a magnet for the one-in-a-million device that is troublesome (statistically there are always a few units in any manufacturing batch of any device that aren't perfect) so before coming to any final conclusions I requested another review unit so that I could double check the speeds to determine whether there was a fault with all the units or just a problem with the one I'd happened to receive. Alex was equally interested as, of course, she did her research before choosing manufacturing companies and was quoted certain specifications. She let me choose which unit I'd like to look at so I picked a Nik so that I could see the difference in the design up close (and, yes, I'll admit that he's my favourite design).

The Meitropolis Series

As you can see from the next table, the results are much better and what I was expecting from a USB 2.0 device. In fact, they are, again, some of the best write speeds I've seen so far and the read speeds are well within range.

Minkster Meitropolis Series: Nik
(4 GB)
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:17.51717.52617.53017.53317.524
Sequential Write:7.8337.8437.8437.8677.863
Random Read 512 KB:17.51317.50517.49717.49517.508
Random Write 512 KB:1.6771.7191.5971.5781.730
Random Read 4 KB:4.0974.1274.0654.0934.074
Random Write 4 KB:0.0140.0130.0140.0130.013
Settings: 5 passes, 1000 MB test size
(5 tests run; results in megabytes per second)
Test TypeTest 1Test 2Test 3Test 4Test 5
Sequential Read:17.50217.48217.41317.41317.509
Sequential Write:7.7937.8337.8027.7777.817
Random Read 512 KB:17.49517.44717.42417.38417.492
Random Write 512 KB:1.2571.6031.6541.6571.271
Random Read 4 KB:4.1143.9634.0703.8874.075
Random Write 4 KB:0.0120.0130.0120.0130.012


The devices are made of silicone that is quite tactilely pleasant and the head acts as the cover for the USB connector, which means it's a separate entity (that more careless people may lose). The silicone is resilient and scratch resistant but it can also, in some cases, pick up a bit of grime or become temporarily discolored. However, if you wipe them carefully with a slightly damp cloth they'll be as good as new.

When the Poppy unit is plugged in a subtle red LED in the base glows, and when the device is operating the light blinks to show data transfer or device access. In bright light you may not be able to see properly but which in dim light is clearly visible. The base of the Nik unit, however, is too dark and you can't see the light at all, although I know there's an LED in them because I saw a tiny reflected blinking red light where the connector was plugged into the USB port. In terms of operating considerations, the units only warm up very slightly (you'll probably only notice it if your hands are cold), no matter how hard you push them.

As you can see from the photograph the devices are quite large. To be a certified USB 2.0 device one of the requirements, besides being able to reach certain read/write speeds, is that a unit has to be of a size that doesn't obstruct USB ports that may be placed next to the USB port that it is using. The Minksters are a little too wide, so be aware of that if you have a computer with USB ports that are very close together you will end up blocking a port unless you use a hub or extension cable.

Poppy and Nik

Each device ships with an info card (similar to a trading card) and some free stuff is included on each unit, such as a wallpaper (only at 1024x768), a Flash presentation with some info on the character and some fun stuff for kids to do, and a virtual slider puzzle. These free items are, of course, primarily for kids, as these storage devices would make excellent gifts for the more tech-savvy young people in your life.

The devices are priced at R339 [?] in South Africa and you can buy them at various locations in Cape Town (see the Facebook Fan Page for more info) or online at the Minky store. The web site ships worldwide. Shipping is R55 [?] in South Africa (or you can collect for free if you're in Cape Town) and R130 [?] worldwide. At R339 they're a bit pricey but I'm putting this down to the limited quantity that was originally manufactured in order to test the market.

On the whole I'm quite fond of these devices and am looking forward to seeing Alex produce more series in the future. We have a strong design culture in Cape Town, especially, and it's great to see it reflected in technology.

Both Minkster Meitropolis Series Designer USB Flashdrive review units were provided by Alex Seaton.





brainwavez.org Opinion
Rating: 8/10



Key Facts: Minkster Meitropolis Series Designer USB Flashdrives
Manufacturer: Minky
Designer: Alex Seaton
Storage Capacity: 4 GB
Weight: 20g (Poppy), 18g (Nik)
Dimensions: 38x63x23mm (Poppy), 34x57x23mm (Nik) (WxHxD)
Interface: USB 2.0, backwards compatible with USB 1.1; supports hot swapping
Power Supply: USB bus powered, no external power supply necessary
Power Consumption: circa 60-80 mA
Indicators: Red LED (detect, read, and write)
Operating System Support:
Windows: Windows 95 (driver required - you can request it directly from Alex), Windows 98 (apparently no driver required but I suspect otherwise), Windows ME, Windows 2000, Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7 and above
Mac OS: Mac OS X 10.0.2 and above
Linux: native support and no driver required
Operating Temperature: -40°C to +70°C
Note: these are manufacturer claims and I'm not convinced that they are accurate.
Storage Temperature: -50°C to +80°C
Note: these are manufacturer claims and I'm not convinced that they are accurate.
In The Box: Minkster unit, info card



On The Internet
Official Sites: Minky | Meitropolis Series | Facebook



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