At a Glance
The Good: tough, USB 3.0
The Bad: Long, no cap tether
The Superior S102 is an old-school USB flash drive. It has an aluminum housing that doesn't make any drop-test promises, but you get the feeling you could step on it and it wouldn't be an issue. It's also a bigg'un. The drive measures almost 2.5 inches long by about half an inch thick by about half an inch wide. It is, unfortunately, one of those USB flash drives that are just begging to get snapped off by a passing beverage cart on an airplane. It's not really all that elegant of a drive when it comes to design. Despite it's rugged appearance, it's not that heavy of a drive. It only weighs 5 ounces, according to the company.
The packaging of the Superior S201 Pro boasts "No lost caps," and it's true that the cap fits on the end of the S102. However, it's still quite wiggly and it comes off extremely easily, so I'm not convinced that this is a foolproof method. The other downside to relying on this strategy is that it prevents you from having any kind of keychain or tether through the end of the drive. There appears to be an itsy-bitsy hole on the end of the S102 Pro, but even if you snaked something through there, you wouldn't be able to put the cap on the end while in use. A better idea would have been for the company to attach a tether for the cap.
Another minor complain on the design is that there is no indicator light to tell you when you're reading or writing on the drive. This may not bother you, but I personally like to have it to prevent me from pulling out the drive while in the middle of doing something.
When it comes to speeds, ADATA posts the drive as having 100 MBps read speeds. It's important to note that companies usually come up with these figures under the best performing of circumstances, and this 100 MBps figure is also for computers with USB 3.0 capabilities. (Mine, unfortunately, does not.) If you are also USB 3.0-less, the S102 Pro is backward compatible with USB 2.0. Not only lacking USB 3.0 but still not quite sure what it even is? Click here to read a handy FAQ.
When testing read and write speeds for the Superior S201 Pro, I used the benchmark testing software Check Flash. There are a number of different benchmark testing apps and software that you can download for free. The results from Check Flash showed the drive as having 32.34 MBps read speeds and 19.16 MBps write speeds. This compares with 32.13 MBps read speeds and 25.65 MBps write speeds for the LaCie Rugged USB Flash Key, which was also recently reviewed on this site. Yes, it's a bit slower in the writing category, but the price is also lower as well.
The Bottom Line
You really can’t beat the price for the Superior S102 Pro. It comes in three capacities — 8GB, 16GB and 32GB, with MSRPs of $16.99, $24.99 and $44.99, respectively. You can score them for much less on certain websites (Amazon had the 8GB for $11.51, the 16GB for $15.37, and the 32GB for $34.55 when this was written in September 2012). Yeah, it’s a little bulky and not all that flashy (excuse the pun), but it’s a great option for students who can’t stop throwing them into the bottom of their backpack.