The Samsung Duo Plus 128GB USB key offers a simple storage solution that can be a real lifesaver when working away from the studio.
Poor WiFi and internet connection is something I’m used to, but when you have a tonne of images you need to get over to a client, and the internet can’t be relied on, then a good old fashioned external or USB drive is often the only way to go.
For two jobs recently I’ve found myself running into a local WHSmiths to pick up USB Keys, popped into a cafe for a quick coffee, applied a batch quick fix and transferred the low res files over to a USB key for the client to take away and peruse at their leisure.
OK, not ideal, and a little last decade, but easy and tides me over until I get a decent connection and can upload the files properly.
Although I try to avoid USB Keys I seem to have several, there’s even one on my key ring that holds a MicroSD card.
USB Keys, might not be cutting edge, but when you need one you need one, and with today’s ever-changing the world the Samsung Duo Plus adds a level of compatibility that makes it an instant winner.
Duo highlights the main selling point for this product. On one end you have the latest USB Type-C connection and the other a USB Type-A to USB Type-C adapter.
This means that if you have the latest MacBook Pro or PC Laptop that features the USB Type-C connection, then you can access rapid transfer speeds that this technology offers.
If not then pull the adapter from one end, plug it into the USB Type-C male plug and then into any standard USB Type-A, that’s the standard USB type you’ll find on the majority of machines produced in the last 10 plus years.
Our review sample of the Samsung Duo Plus is the 128GB version, but there are also options for a 32, 64 and 256GB version.
Utilising the latest USB Type-C connection the drive is capable of transfer speeds of up to 300MB/s that’s more than enough to use the drive as a working drive for editing HD video.
Build and handling
It’s a USB key, and as they go the Samsung Duo Plus, 128GB has a nice ergonomic design.
The key itself is pretty small with a small cap covering the Type-C end and the Type-A adapter being slotted firmly into the other end.
The whole thing feels well made, and the plastic finish is nice enough. It’s not high quality but more designed and built from materials that fit the use and budget.
In use plugging into a Type-C port requires the removal of the cap and then it can be plugged in, as with any other USB Type-C stick.
The opposite end features a black cap that protects the Type-A end, pull this off, and you’ll expose the Type-A connector that neatly slots into the main body of the product. In the other end is the Type-C port. To use Type-A simply plug in the adapter and then it’s like any other Type-A USB Key.
On the cap and the main body of the key is a small lanyard loop which is suitable for attaching a cord so it can be looped into a keyring or bag.
When the drive arrives, it comes formatted as FAT32. It’s best to reformat this to your computers file system or if you need it to be as compatible as possible then ExFat.
Our review sample is the 128GB version, more than enough space to store a day’s images along with a bit of video if needed.
Direct out of the box the drive is formatted as FAT32, this file system is pretty universal and will work on most computers without issue. The only downside is that the max file size you can store is 4GB, anything over that the file system will start to have a few problems.
The drive can be reformatted into your chosen file system, NTFS for PC or Mac OS Extended or APFS for Mac users. If you need to keep it cross-compatible, then ExFat is your best option.
File formats aside, once the drive is plugged directly into a spare USB port of your computer it will then appear as with any other external drive.
The fact that the key has both Type-A and Type-C connectors elevates the compatibility further.
Checking out the all-important speeds and testing using a MacBook Pro i9 with 32GB Ram the key had a write speed of 43.8MB/s and 300.4 MB/s read speeds. That’s incredibly good on both accounts.
Even today 128GB is a fair amount of storage, and the ultra-fast read speeds and USB-C native connectivity make this USB drive a valuable asset.
In use and when switching between multiple machines, the speed and built-in compatibility with different generations of the USB port are hugely beneficial.
The read speeds are the stand out feature and enable you to quickly review the contents of the drive and open those files on whichever computer you wish.
The slower write speeds are to be expected and although considerably less than the read speeds are still more than fast enough when it comes to image and video transfer.
Using the USB drive as a working drive is possible, but when it comes to video, you will start to see the lag in speed when compared with a proper external drive.
Saying that the write speed is still more than adequate for editing GoPro HD footage although trying to edit 4K is pushing it! USB keys are designed as easy portable storage devices, not working drives, and when it comes to storage, the Duo Plus is exceptional.
At around £30 the Duo Plus is a little on the expensive side when you compare it with other 128GB USB keys, but then few offer the dual USB connectivity, and for this ease of use the slight premium pricing is well worth it.
If you work across computer systems and generations and need a USB key that you know will work and be compatible with the maximum amount of machines, including the latest Apple MacBooks, then the Samsung Duo Plue is an excellent choice. It’s about your only option, but still, if there were others with this functionality, it would still be damn good.