The Cryptex from Steampunk Junkies is a portable USB storage device housed in a brass outer casing. Arguably its main feature is the mechanical numerical locking system. In order to access the USB stick and its contents, the correct combination must be input onto the cylindrical body. It works in the same way that a bicycle lock works by twisting each of the (five) rotating discs and aligning them together.
Available as three options: 16Gb(£31 UK), 32Gb (£41 UK) and 64Gb (£61 UK) -the latter comes in gold. They’re available from the Steampunk Junkies website.
The name Cryptex comes from the film “The Da Vinci Code” starring Tom Hanks, Audrey Tautou and Sir Ian McKellen. It’s sometimes attributed to an invention of Leonardo da Vinci – the 15th century visionary. However, it’s generally conceded that Da Vinci Code author Dan Brown actually conceived the name and design then named da Vinci as the inventor in his book. Thereby allowing the author to build a premise to include daVinci as part of a secret society guarding the Holy Grail. In the film, the protagonist comes across a device that is said to contain secrets of the Grail. It has a five letter sequence that has to be correctly lined up in order to open the container. An incorrect alignment results in a vial of vinegar being broken and soaking the fragile parchment inside. The result would be the dissolving of said parchment.
Modern day needs don’t require parchment so for the guys at Steampunk Junkies, a USB stick was the way forward.
The Steampunk Junkies run parallel to Steampunk Journal in a couple of ways:
There are two people on the team that have never met
Much like Phoebe and I, the two guys behind Steampunk Junkies have never met in real life. They’re somewhat of an enigma; always keeping out of the limelight on social media. They post as the page and not from personal profiles; which is good as it gives an air of professionalism.
The website has a large store and small, yet thriving blog
Actually, the Journal is probably the polar opposite thinking about it. We have a large magazine blog and a small, yet thriving store. There are many other things that Steampunk Junkies sell on their website and you can go and look at them via the link at the start of the review. Today, we’re concentrating on the cylindrical Cryptex (there’s a disc shaped one as well).
Just by picking up the device you can tell that it’s extremely well made. The fatigued round brass body is surrounded by four bars that run the length of the device. These no doubt add structural strength, hold the internal parts together and prevent it from rolling away on a flat surface. The end that houses the USB also has an O ring attachment which comes supplied with a thick leather strap for hanging off your belt. This wouldn’t look out of place at a steampunk event as part of a costume.
The code is composed of five digits. The sequence is on a sticker on the end of the cryptex and also on the inside of the box. It’s useful to have it on the box because you’ll want to get rid of the one on the actual Cryptex for obvious reasons. In the box there’s also an attractive felt pouch.
Aligning the digits into the correct sequence is no easy feat. The rotating tumblers aren’t easy to move and the slipperiness of them makes it all the more harder. From a security point of view this is excellent. From an aesthetic one, maybe not so much.
If we were to assume that the four bars created imaginary “sides” to the Cryptex, one of those sides has slightly raised bumps between the tumblers. This is the side that you need to align the sequence on. Any other side won’t work and it’s a nice touch as it’s not glaring but can be found by touch.
As well as the aesthetics, the USB stick needs to be able to perform, so I downloaded and uploaded 1Gb of information onto the memory stick and back onto the computer. The specifications of the computer are:
Processor: AMD A10-7850K Radeon R7 – 3.70GHz
System: 64-bit operating system, x64-based processor
Platform: Windows 10 Home
Without knowing the manufacturer of the actual USB device that goes inside the Cryptex, it’s not easy to base any opinions on the quality of it. However, I did find it a squeeze to fit the stick into the USB port on my computer. There’s a small PDF file on the memory that asks you to register your product with a hyperlink for your convenience.
Transferring 1Gb of information from my computer to the USB stick took 1min 43sec. Transferring back onto the computer took 32sec. This gives a great idea of how much time you have when covertly uploading and downloading files. After all, why else would you need a USB stick with a mechanical combination lock on it? These aren’t bad transfer times which suggests the USB stick is a decent quality.
Cryptex review: Conclusion
The Cryptex USB stick from Steampunk Junkies is an original idea for a memory stick that injects an element of fun into the tedious task of carrying digital data around. That may sound like hyperbole, but I managed to use it as a talking point on at least two occasions that a standard USB stick would have let me down. It certainly delighted my children. It’s well made and seemingly built to last. I do wonder if it’s entirely possible to remove the memory part in order to allow it to last even longer. Probably not, otherwise everyone would simply get the smaller one and a cheap high capacity memory stick. It’s a shame if not though, because the brass outer casing will still be going strong when a 32Gb or 64Gb is as common as a 4Gb is today.
If there could be a way to loosen off the dials a little to ease the tension then this would be a super product. I really do like it, but it’s just not that easy to use the combination which really is the main point of getting it. However, it’s a great product and will make a superb novelty gift for the steampunk in your life.
For more information go to the Steampunk Junkies store website.
This is the website that is more like a blog.