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Storage Devices Reviews
15,670 Reviews

Cowon UM1 16GB review

£49 inc VAT

Manufacturer: Cowon

Our Rating: We rate this 3.5 out of 5

The Cowon UM1 16GB pendrive is a very cute USB memory solution. It breaks with the norm of all known form factors of flash-based pendrives.

The Cowon UM1 16GB pendrive is a very cute USB memory solution. It breaks with the norm of all known form factors of flash-based USB memory drives.

Like a lot of other pendrives lately, the Cowon UM1's design explores new territory. Even the USB connector is stylized as you can see in its photos above and the body is metallic with a gold-like colour. Inscribed at the back is text saying “Don’t Forget Me”, something that the box of this product says as well. Seeing as it is priced higher than other 16GB drives, the Cowon UM1 16GB pendrive might well be gifting material!

Cowon UM1: Design and Features

The shiny gold-coloured body acts as a welcome sign for fingerprints that can smudge the classy looks of this drive, thankfully you can wipe the fingerprints off just as easily as it attracts them. It is small enough that you’d be forgiven for thinking that it is more of an SDHC memory card embedded in a tiny card reader providing a USB 2.0 interface for compatibility with a desktop PC/laptop.

A small tag is given, to hook the Cowon UM1 pendrive to a keychain, mobile phone, even a necklace if you are so inclined, or just leave it on the drive as-is. Do not treat the tag as an optional facility, the pendrive itself is so small that you will want this if only to make its presence more obvious to the eye when searching for it!

Besides the tag and a guide as tiny as the Cowon UM1 drive itself is in the box, there is software to password-protect your files. Other flash-drive brands provide extras such as hardware encryption, one-touch backup functionality and bundled software for backup/synchronization. But this 16GB drive’s USP is its design and size, so perhaps the lack of those extras does not matter for the intended audience.

t offers 15.0 GB (GigaBytes) of actual usable space once formatted. As with any flash-based storage device, the Cowon UM1 remains cool while in operation and is robust in the context that dropping it to the floor or spilling water on it will not spoil it.

Cowon UM1: Performance

Tested in the PCWorld.in Labs

The Cowon UM1 is not the fastest pendrive we have tested, but it is quick enough to be ReadyBoost-compatible with the latest versions of Windows. In synthetic benchmarks, read and write speeds averaged 29.2 MB/s and 9.3 MB/s respectively, with a CPU utilisation of 2.5 percent and read access time of 0.59 ms (milli-seconds) on average. In real world tests, read speed average for both large and small files stood at 31 MB/s even across system reboots.

This could be due to the caching system employed by Windows 7, which ekes the most it can out of the USB 2.0 interface even with all the USB 2.0 limitations. Write speed while copying a single large file of 6.42GB on to the drive stood at 8.87 MB/s. Copying multiple smaller files (800 files totaling up to 6.36GB) on to the drive was much slower as is to be expected of a pendrive, at 4.16 MB/s.

NEXT: our expert verdict >>

Cowon UM1 16GB Expert Verdict »

Activity indicator LED
ReadyBoost compatible
Metallic, coloured gold
Formatted capacity: 15GB
Random Read Average MB/s: 29.2
Burst Speed Read MB/s: 31
Single-file real-world write MB/s: 8.87
Multi-file real-world write MB/s: 4.16
Read Access Average (milliseconds): 0.59
  • Overall: We give this item 7 of 10 overall

The Cowon UM1 16GB USB pendrive breaks conventional notions of how a flash drive looks. It manages to pack in plenty of storage capacity into a very small form factor not much larger than the USB connector itself used by it to connect to your PC. The “Don’t Forget Me” inscription and the colour makes it well-suited for a gift or going-away present. There is a price premium for it in comparison to other 16GB pendrives, although not very much. However its write speeds are quite slow compared even to pendrives priced much lower. This may cause some bother if the intended usage of the drive is going to be fairly intensive, with lots of data needing to be copied in a short time-frame, but otherwise it is just fine.

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