Monday, November 20, 2017

Shame on Lexar for a Horrible Product

I needed a thumb drive quickly a few nights ago to bring some movies to a friend who is ill. So I popped out to WalMart (open past 10, so they win) and scanned all the offerings. It had to be USB 3.0 at least, and it had to be reasonably priced for the size. I found a Lexar USB 3.0 64GB for $38cad, which I considered acceptable.


I cracked the package and plugged it into my USB 3.0 hub, finding it disconcerting how flimsy the plastic business end felt. In fact, the whole thing felt flimsy, with unsatisfying action when extending and retracting the plug, and with it weighing essentially nothing. This is not a good thing with electronics, and it usually indicates minimal structural integrity. It really feels like one of those knock offs you find in a dollar store rather than a fairly expensive product from a well-known brand like Lexar.


So I soldiered on and copy the files over. One of the reasons I bought this particular model was the claim of up to 150MB/s read speeds, and it did pretty well in my tests.


That’s not bad at all. For a comparison, I checked the speed on a 32GB ADATA unit that feels like a high end thumb drive with high quality plastics and some weight, and of course a metal plug.


Note the marked difference in how the tabs stick up in the quality drive. So how does the cheaper, but much nicer drive fair in the same test?


The performance falls short, but that may very well have to do with the capacity of the drive, since higher capacity drives are typically able to stripe their writes (write in parallel since they might have twice as many raw chips), which makes a huge difference in sustained speeds. But the ergonomics are so much better that I would easily make such a trade.

Getting back to the story …

The drive feels terrible in hand, and plugging it in is universally scary since it feels like it is going to break every single time. The plastic lock that holds it extended is extremely weak, allowing it to pop shut at any resistance, so this is not the drive for awkward spaces, like behind a TV.

And speaking of TVs … the ultimate test was plugging it into my friend’s TV, which failed miserably. It kept popping the lock and so I eventually had to hold it tightly with thumb and forefinger to get it into the slot. It flashed once, but never registered as a thumb drive. We tried it several times, and tried another drive that came up instantly. So it definitely was incompatible with her TV.

So we tried a Bluray player and a DVD player, each of which had a USB plug on the front. None of them could recognize the drive. We gave up at that point.

At home, I checked it on a laptop and back on the same switch that wrote the files, and it was recognized both times.

Once wonders what sort of compatibility testing Lexar did for this cheap piece of crap?

It’s going back today, obviously …

p.s. It is entirely possible that this design was commissioned by WalMart specifically.

If so, shame on Lexar for going along with it, and of course for the obvious lack of compatibility testing.