Cheaper IronKey USBs on the way

IronKey plans to release a less expensive version of its encrypted USB stick, making use of a cheaper type of flash memory.

NetworkWorld reports that the new D200 drive will use multi-level cell NAND memory, which can pack more bits compared the single-level cell in its existing S200 series.

The result is a drive that has double the capacity, but at the same price, or, to view it another way, the same capacity for a lower price. A 2 GB D200 will sell for $79 — the same price as a 1 GB S200. Sizes up to 32 GB will be available, doubling the existing model’s highest capacity offering.

ironkey-usb-flash-drive

But the trade-off isn’t without drawbacks. MLC memory wears out faster than SLC memory, and so the new IronKey will only survive between 3,000 and 10,000 write and erase cycles, compared to 100,000 in the existing S200 IronKey. MLC memory also tends to be slower than its single-cell counterpart.

Still, a cheaper IronKey should boost the brand’s appeal to home users and small businesses that don’t burn through a lot of storage. The new IronKey will retain the brand’s aluminum finish, which prevents the drive from flexing and cracking. The case is also waterproof and tamperproof. As noted in our review, the IronKey can survive washers, dryers and trips to the bottom of a pond.

As for software, the IronKey automatically sets up an AES encryption process the first time it plugs in, and it even packs a secure Web browser that can be used at public computers. If you can swallow the price, which remains high for a USB stick, the IronKey seems like a solid option for people who carry around sensitive data.

There’s no word on an exact release date for the new thumb drives.