Announcing The Companion: The World's Best Flash Drive

John T. Haller's picture
Submitted by John T. Haller on December 8, 2011 - 2:20am Companion is proud to announce the immediate availability of the World's Best Flash Drive™: The® Companion™. We've partnered with CustomUSB, a world leader in custom flash drive manufacturing, to produce the type of flash drive we've always wanted for ourselves. It's durable. Incredibly fast. Personalized. Affordable. And backed by a lifetime warranty. The Companion is a customizable USB 3.0 drive available in 8GB, 16GB and 32GB sizes starting at under $40. It comes with the Platform pre-installed so you can take your favorite software with you. Laser-etching of your name, URL or phrase is included in the price. And there's a hassle-free 30-day return policy. The Companion is available at

Drive Details

  • USB 3.0 SuperSpeed Interface with full USB 2.0 compatibility
    • USB 3.0: up to 85 MB/s read and 44 MB/s write
    • USB 2.0: up to 37 MB/s read and 28 MB/s write
    • 5x better portable app performance on USB 2.0 than most retail drives
  • to carry your favorite software
    • Carry your web browser and bookmarks
    • Carry your whole music collection
    • Carry your whole office suite
    • Make every computer your own!
  • Durable high-impact aluminum case with a classy blue activity light
  • Laser-etched with your name, quote or URL at no extra cost
  • Packaged in an attractive custom tin, making it a great gift for the holidays
  • Lifetime warranty as well as a 30-day postage-paid return policy
  • Available in 8GB, 16GB and 32GB sizes starting at under $40!

Buy Yours Today

Our long-time users know this drive has been a long time coming. We know you're going to love it. It makes a great everyday drive and a perfect holiday gift. Best of all, some of the revenue helps support in our mission to change the world of software. I carry mine every day!

Story Topic:


There seems to be no information here about where the drives will or can be shipped so i was wondering if international users can order these drives without problems? (I would like to buy one and live in finland)

John T. Haller's picture

You should be able to order from Finland. Does it give you an error as you go through the process? The CustomUSB store may not yet correctly calculate international shipping. They're closed right now, but I will check with them in the morning.

Sometimes, the impossible can become possible, if you're awesome!

Ken Herbert's picture

No errors as such that I could see, but if they want to give free shipping to Australia, I won't complain...

As for the drive itself, not what I expected visually (not sure what I was expecting) but the stats on the drive are awesome. I am contemplating two depending on how much the postage is going to hurt...

And I must add - Great work John. I'll admit it did take a while, but I, along with a lot of others I'm sure, am happy to see the fruition of so much work.

The release of a new stable platform is a great milestone and I am looking forward to the release team kicking a few more apps up to official status (which means I better start testing...)

John T. Haller's picture

It does indeed. It's much faster than most drives that folks use for ReadyBoost, though.

Sometimes, the impossible can become possible, if you're awesome!

marckisawesome's picture

Hi i love portable apps but i also love the compactness of verbatim micro usb, will you be making smaller/different designs of your usb?

Who Dares,Wins - S.A.S

John T. Haller's picture

USB 3.0 drives can't use the partial connector used in that style of drive. In our testing, we also found they are less reliable as they are prone to momentary disconnects on some computers when jostled, which can crash apps.

Sometimes, the impossible can become possible, if you're awesome!

John T. Haller's picture

No companies produce parts that can get a USB 3.0 drive in that size currently, so it's not an option.

Sometimes, the impossible can become possible, if you're awesome!

mini USB connections off (accidentally); although my work laptop gets a decent thrashing so that's probably why.

32GB one just added to my Christmas wishlist.

John T. Haller's picture

For the curious, all those speeds you see are based on actual numbers recorded by CrystalDiskMark Portable. We found that USB 3.0 chipsets in PCs vary wildly in terms of performance, especially laptops (my friend's laptop runs USB3 drives slower than my desktop runs USB2 drives, for instance). I may write up a blog post about some of our findings at some point.

Sometimes, the impossible can become possible, if you're awesome!

Simeon's picture

Are the larger drives any slower than an 8 gb one?

"What about Love?" - "Overrated. Biochemically no different than eating large quantities of chocolate." - Al Pacino in The Devils Advocate

John T. Haller's picture

I have the 32GB one myself and found it maxing our the USB 2.0 speeds on my desktop. It was also about 5x faster over USB 2.0 with using portable apps (4k random writes) than my Kingston HyperX 8GB USB 2.0 drive, which is usually where larger drives fall down. Generally, smaller drives are faster, but these seem to pack enough of a punch in terms of components that it's not an issue.

Sometimes, the impossible can become possible, if you're awesome!

I'd like to see some,it's hard to find benchmarks for drives that you can buy. Not many are done, and the drives are soon out of the market.

A fast drive makes a HUGE difference, for three years I ran my desktop for work off a flash drive, at first some junk, then a Patriot Transporter XT 4Gb, then a OCZ Throttle 8GB, each made a big difference in how Portable Apps ran, but rather more blind luck in picking them.

Ideally it would be a benchmark of Portable Apps, not a synthetic benchmark. If just one drive a month could be tested (so at any given moment there were 3-6 drives you could find in stores at various price points and sizes), it would be a very handy.

Then again, I'm not in that job any more, no longer computer homeless Smile (hot bunking but no roaming profiles at that job, not to knock the setup otherwise, 3 1600x1200 displays, for instance), so I use it only occasionally.

Thanks for Portable Apps, it is a great thing.

Plato seems wrong to me today.

I know this is an old post, but I'm curious about the 4K Random Write results for the 32 GB Companion, since I've read that it's the 4K Random Read/Write specs that are important for Portable Apps. Even my internal SATA II drives have dismal performance for 4K read/write (0.8 MB/s). I have a USB 3.0 Corsair Flash Voyager that blows away my SATA drives in Read speed, but is terrible for the 4K Random Writes. The full results for a 100 MB test size are as follows. I know that there are many variables that cause differences from system to system, but I think that relative numbers could prove useful. Could someone post full results for the Companion drive on their system? Thanks.

CrystalDiskMark Portable 3.0.1 x64,
5 Test Runs, 100 MB Test Size.

320 GB Seagate Barracuda 7200.10:
Seq R/W: 63.3 / 60.8
512K Random 32.1 / 30.7
4K QD1 Random 0.49 / 0.83
4K QD32 Random 0.85 / 0.88

32 GB Corsair USB 3.0 Flash Voyager:
Seq R/W: 85.7 / 39.0
512K Random 79.1 / 7.8
4K QD1 Random 7.5 / 0.20
4K QD32 Random 7.9 / 0.26

Great job!

These things look awesome. Couple questions:

1) Will you keep us updated on sales numbers? It will warm my heart to see these things fly off the 'shelves' as a result of all of the PA team's great, noble efforts.

2) Do any of the profits from the drives go to PA? I thought there was talk of this before, but there is nothing in the announcement.

Thank you for the great job.

John T. Haller's picture

We get a revenue share of the profits. It will go towards paying for hosting, some promotion and paying down some debt.

Glad you like the drive and thanks for the kind words Smile

Sometimes, the impossible can become possible, if you're awesome!

Simeon's picture

Thanks a lot John. Now I have to decide which size I want - tough choice! Smile

"What about Love?" - "Overrated. Biochemically no different than eating large quantities of chocolate." - Al Pacino in The Devils Advocate

CustomUSB offers international shipping and will ship to most placed in the world. We added this option around 11AM Central Time. If you ordered prior to that, you got free shipping, so congrats. If you ordered after 11AM or are about to order, cost for shipping to Canada is 12.99 and the $19.99 for the rest of the world.

Vadim with CustomUSB

Ken Herbert's picture

Thanks for the update. Now that international shipping has been fixed I will have to figure out what I am getting.

Is there any way to order two drives of different capacities and/or with different inscriptions under the same shipping cost?

...No. The shipping charge also covers handling and since each drive has a different text we handle each one separately.

Vadim with CustomUSB

Ken Herbert's picture

Thanks for that.

I was hoping to pick up an 8 and a 16, wasn't sure yet whether the inscription would be the same or not. If that is the case I may just order the 16 and wait till my wallet looks a bit healthier before ordering another.

Oh, no... really? $19.99? That is unfortunately prohibitive. I was excited about looking into the 32GB drive until I read that. I can get good, reliable drives elsewhere, with much less shipping and handling.

Please pitch me a good reason as to why I should be willing to pay that much s&h for any portable drive.


I agree with your sentiments and my suggestion would be to buy a USB-drive somewhere else and donate the difference to PA directly. Cut out the middle man so to speak.

solanus's picture

The point of this drive is not to compete with every flash drive vendor out there. It's a high quality drive, of course, but the main point is to support the operations of, and to promote it.
The company is located in Illinois, so it's cheaper to ship in the US. It's $4.99 to ship almost anywhere in the US.

I made this half-pony, half-monkey monster to please you.

John T. Haller's picture

As many laptop's have less-than-stellar USB chipsets in them, I don't think we should quote these as official numbers. One laptop I tested had USB 3.0 speeds slower than my desktop's USB 2.0 speeds due to its chipset.

Sometimes, the impossible can become possible, if you're awesome!

What are the physical dimensions of the USB drive? I'm curious since it looks very similar to a USB drive I purchased a little while back.


The drive I have looks exactly the same but it's 59mm instead of 72mm.

I did not see any mention of this feature so I assume it doesn't have it.
Is there any technical reason why most portable drives do not have this feature? Is it more costly to have? The SD cards have had it for years.
Every time I use my flash-drive on someone's PC, I am concerned that it will get infected. I would assume most people currently only need to read from their flash-drive when using it in an offsite PC. When I travel I put my portable apps not only on my flash-drive but also need to burn them on a CD so I can reload the flash-drive just in case it got infected. That is assuming that the PC has an available DVD/CD drive to use.

John T. Haller's picture

It's not supported by most USB chipsets to my knowledge and having the physical switch on the drive introduces a point of failure. The only drives I've seen it on have been very old and generally cheaper ones as a result. Most apps won't run from a read-only device. We're debating whether to worry about supporting it in the PA.c platform due to it being such a niche thing. We'd originally planned on adding it so folks could try out a live version of the platform and apps from a DVD drive and share that with friends. But as optical drives are dying off on computers now, there's not much call for it.

Sometimes, the impossible can become possible, if you're awesome!

I was going to buy an 8GB one of these - more as a gesture of support than anything. At the price it's a good deal.

Unfortunately with an additional 20 bucks to ship it to Ireland I just can't afford it as money is very tight at the moment. Pity I didn't get in early enough to take advantage of the free shipping.



I agree with this. My old Sandisk Cruzer died about 2 weeks ago so I was in the market for a good USB drive and figured I'd jump the gun on a USB3 device.

A PApps branded one would have been fantastic, but the cost is just a bit on the high side. The 16GB model comes in at about £35, whereas in the UK you can pick up 16Gb flash drives for £10. Now I don't mean to compare apples to oranges, I realise that cheap drives are slow and that's not what this is about, but I managed to pick up a Patriot Supersonic Xpress 16Gb model for less than £18 DELIVERED. That's the crucial part - the drive is speedy enough, not quite as good as the PApps branded one but still pretty speedy and half the price.

That's bad, but hey - twice the price for a customised one that supports PApps, maybe that's reasonable but then you add a $20 shipping fee? For something that weighs in at maybe a couple of hundred grams at the most? That brings the cost to £48, over 2.5x the cost of the other USB stick. Sorry, but it's just too much and I think with the shipping especially, you guys have shot yourselves in the foot.

I agree totally. I was going to get a drive as well - until I saw the shipping cost posted today. $40 for the 8GB model, another $20 for shipping (and I assume that is USD, not my local currency - so slightly more than $60 when currency conversion is factored in).

I picked up a 8GB drive for $19 here a couple of months ago. It wouldn't be as fast as the PortableApps drive (and the speed is why I was anticipating one of these), and I was willing (and expecting) to pay a bit more for one of these - but $40 more is just too much I'm sorry. The drive at the base price it is ($40) is fine, it is the shipping cost.

I used to have a sig...until one of the mods ate it

Don't forget that on top of the shipping costs you'll also need to pay Import VAT because the goods have a value that exceeds £15.

I was expecting to pay VAT and customs expenses, but the value given on the package was much lower than what I actually paid, so I didn't have to …

Chris Morgan's picture

I recall an article in the APC magazine back in 2003, talking of Lindows 4 and how you could use the live CD and yet save your settings by combining it with a "cheap as chips" 128MB USB disk for $70.

(I noted at the time that I had never seen fish-and-chips-type chips at $70, but thought that perhaps I was just not considering the right sort of chips.)

I am a Christian and a developer and moderator here.

“A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” – Proverbs 15:1

John T. Haller's picture

I just spoke to Vadim at CustomUSB and we're going to be updating the international shipping options in the next few days and decreasing rates. Currently, Canada is $12.99 and other countries are $19.99. This is mainly because individual countries aren't calculated yet, so it's an upper-end for far-off lands. We're going to be calculating out better rates for each country, especially for the countries where the site is the most popular (as we're most likely to get orders from there). Once the new rates are up, I'll post again to let everyone know.

We'll also get some shots of the packaging and custom tin up for people to check out as several folks have asked about that as well. They should be in for the drives that are already being laser etched to start going out over the next few days. Smile

Sometimes, the impossible can become possible, if you're awesome!

I'm in Australia though, which is possibly considered as one of those "far-off lands" Sad

Oh well, I will have my fingers crossed for some (positive) changes I suppose.

I used to have a sig...until one of the mods ate it

I was literally thinking that myself when typed that response Smile

I used to have a sig...until one of the mods ate it

Good Morning John;

Currently you can only use PayPal. I do not use credit cards. Perhaps in the future there could be a way to pay by check and use Mail. Even if it costs more I would be more than willing to do so.

Frank D. Hubeny

John T. Haller's picture

Overall, checks in the US are no longer used by most commercial businesses. The processing costs are too high, as are the risks of fraud, especially with international checks. So, it's unlikely that we'd be able accommodate such an arrangement.

I could look into whether we could accept a handful of checks from some of our longer-term users ourselves and then transfer those funds to CustomUSB along with the drive details. It would likely add a couple weeks to the ordering process to give the check a chance to clear. If that would be acceptable to you, please let me know.

Sometimes, the impossible can become possible, if you're awesome!

Hello John;

Sorry for the delay in responding. I would not mind sending someone a check and the details. I would even be willing to add a donation for them doing that. I realize it would take longer. But even a gift credit card costs something in addition and I would much rather give the extra to some one other than a bank.

Frank D. Hubeny

3D1T0R's picture

You can connect a checking account to your PayPal account, and pay that way.
You have to have (or sign up for) a PayPal account (not just use the CreditCard form which appears when you go to buy an item), but it's not all that difficult (IIRC you have to give them the account number, then they deposit a couple of small payments into your account and you have to tell them how much money was in each one), then it works just like using PayPal with a CreditCard except that the funds are instantly transfered from your account (so more like a DebitCard I guess).
And if that won't work, then I guess John T Haller's suggestion might.

Hope you get one.


Gord Caswell's picture

You always have the option of buying a one-time use Visa or Mastercard from your cornerstore, they usually come in set amounts, this way you're not giving your personal information to any company, it's basically a gift card, just branded by Visa/Mastercard.

John T. Haller's picture

I wanted to let everybody know that we've worked it out and reduced the shipping and handling rates for international orders. Shipping and handling for the US remains at $4.99. Shipping and handling to Canada has been reduced from $12.99 to $9.99. And shipping and handling for other international orders has been reduced from $19.99 to $14.99. We've calculated it with our shipper and this should allow us to cover packaging, shipping and expected loss rates by region (self-insurance).

As this reduction happened so soon after introducing the drives for the first time, and as we really like our early adopters, we'll be giving our international orderers an opportunity to get the difference back. In the coming days, we're going to drop a note to each of our international customers who placed an order at the original higher rates and give them the option of either getting a refund of the $3 or $5 difference via PayPal or mailed check; or making a donation to's development and hosting of the difference. For anyone that would like a refund, we'd prefer to do it via your PayPal account, but for anyone without one or that wants a mailed check, I'll pay the postage out of pocket to make sure you get your money back. Smile

Hopefully these reduced rates will help get anyone who's been on the fence to go ahead and place an order.

Sometimes, the impossible can become possible, if you're awesome!

I ordered one the first day and am looking forward to receiving it. Can you tell me if they are actually being shipped yet? If not, some ballpark time frame for delivery?

Not delivery for me personally, but I imagine it takes a while to tool up for a big order on an initial release like this. Just ballpark for those who ordered fairly early.



I too ordered "The Companion" about a week ago and am wondering when I can expect delivery. There has been no official notice from CustomUSB about my order.

Any kind of news as to when I might get my new flash drive would be great.


Al .... Smile

Don't be a pin-head!

John T. Haller's picture

I checked with CustomUSB and the drives were being prepped and etched this week. Our custom package materials took a few extra days to get from the manufacturer, so they just got them in today. Drives will begin shipping on Monday. If I'd known about the delay ahead of time, I would have waited and launched the drives this week. While they will take extra time to prepare in the future than normal online goods due to the customization aspect, it shouldn't be more than a few days. My apologies for this initial delay. CustomUSB should have sent an email out with the expected shipping timeline. I'll look into that today.

Sometimes, the impossible can become possible, if you're awesome!

...and thanks for the quick feedback on the time from purchase to delivery question.

Happy holidays,


Pyromaniac's picture

Are there plans to get these drives to places like Best Buy or something in the near future? Minus the customized text, of course.

John T. Haller's picture

For everybody who has ordered, the majority of orders were customized earlier this week and shipped today. The remainder will ship over the next 4 business days. You should receive an email notice by tomorrow on when your drive is shipping.

There was a small delay in getting all the needed USB 3.0 parts. We wound up with a few more orders than expected as well, hence the need for a second batch of orders.

I'd like to extend our apologies on behalf of and CustomUSB on the delay in getting the initial orders out. If anyone purchased them as a holiday present and won't have them in time, we can put together a printable sheet you can enclose in a card for your recipient. Most users seem to have purchased them for themselves.

Once the remaining orders are shipped next week, new orders should be customized and shipped within about 48 hours.

Sometimes, the impossible can become possible, if you're awesome!

Yesterday (Dec 29th) they arrived in my mail: the 3 personalized drives I ordered on Dec 8th. Very nice hardware indeed, very nice packaging as well! They'll make excellent gifts for 3 of my closest friends.

Unfortunately, the drives are empty. Not "pre-loaded with the Platform", as the advert at still says.

It's not a problem for me to install the software myself, just a bit more work. However, I really like to know: is that a mistake in the production, or is it a mistake in the advert?

John T. Haller's picture

You should have received an email about it. A number of the first batch of orders were shipped without the software. The issue has been corrected and any drives sent out from this week on should be unaffected. Vadim at Custom USB details the issue here:

Vadim with CustomUSBA number of the initial orders of the Companion drives were shipped without the custom suite of software loaded on them. We were able to determine which orders were affected and are sending an email to those customers today.

For all affected orders, we will be sending out a special gift: a 4GB USB 2.0 flash drive with the logo etched on it and the full load of the Companion software suite. You can copy the suite from this drive right to your Companion drive and then give the gift drive to a friend or relative. Share the joy. Happy holidays!

So, you'll be getting 3 free flash drives loaded with the suite as an apology that you can copy the files from and then keep or give away as you choose.

If you'd like to load up what is on the standard build so you can give them as a gift now, install Platform 10.1. In options, change the theme to black from red and the organization to All By Category. Then go to the app store and add ClamWin, CoolPlayer+, Firefox, GIMP, Inkscape, jPortable, KeePass, LibreOffice, Mines-Perfect, Pidgin, PNotes, Sudoku, Sumatra PDF and Thunderbird. Set Firefox and Thunderbird as favorites. That way your friends will have the standard build and you can give it to them today.

Our sincere apologies again on the mixup. We're glad you like the drives and the packaging. We worked really hard on them!

Sometimes, the impossible can become possible, if you're awesome!

...I _had_ received an email on Dec 27th, which has skipped my attention. Yes, CustomUSB have been letting me know ahead of time that the shipment's software content would be missing, and that they will be compensating me by shipping an extra 4GB flash drive for free, containing the software.

So, I shouldn't have complained here in public, and I apologize for that...

tittoproject's picture

Just a question: is a 64GB (or larger) version planned to be produced in the next months?

Unfortunately, for my needing the 32GB is still too small.


John T. Haller's picture

We're going to have a 64GB drive available in the next 1 to 3 months. It's a matter of when they are produced in the size we need (don't want to do a bigger case) and for a cost that allows us to make it available to customers for a reasonable price.

Sometimes, the impossible can become possible, if you're awesome!

I have bought a 32G version a while back. It was a bit too slow and a bit too small for my use case (see post ).

Did you look at a partnership with SuperTalent? It would be great to have an RC8 branded with PortableApps.

I now own a SuperTalent RC8 with 100GB of space and it's great. It performs on par with SSDs.

I understand that it may be a bit pricey, but I'm sure some users would buy it.

John, I don't want to spoil your support through this thing but I would recommend that if people are wanting to support you, they just go ahead and donate a bit instead. I'm not sure how much customUSB is paying you but I didn't have a good experience and it's really quite pricey (I already had a couple flash drives lying around). Hope you can partner with someone who provides a competitively-priced USB drive in the future.

When I first got mine, it wasn't configured correctly so it didn't load up as an external drive. Not sure what the problem was but they told me to send it back. So I did, at my own cost.

Now I've been using it and it is fine, but I put it on my keychain and it is coming apart. I have another one which has a different type of keychain connection so it will not come apart which I'll probably switch to soon.

Just submitted a straight $25 donation.

John T. Haller's picture

My apologies on the first one not working for you. I don't like seeing that happen to anyone. I've dropped you a quick email to help rectify things.

On the keychain side, the plastic loop is actually for connecting to lanyards, not for keychains. Wearing it on a keychain will stress it beyond design and either break it off or put undue stress on the connection between the plastic endcap and the casing. Unfortunately, we don't currently make that clear in the enclosed drive details, but we should. The only drives I've ever seen survive on a keychain have been self contained units (like the ones shaped like keys). Everything else I've tried only makes it a few months.

Sometimes, the impossible can become possible, if you're awesome!

What I miss is somewhere to put the cap while I use the drive. I have had similiar drives that allowed me to put the cap on the other end of the drive. Every time I stop using the drive, I have to start looking for the cap. I have been able to find it until now, but it would be really nice if you could change the design a little bit.

I am sad to say that I made strong recommendations for the use of the Portable Apps Companion drives for our students. Many have had the outer skin pull free.

That has happened to me as well. What do I do to get a replacement of the one that is now such that the outer skin will simply not stay on.

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John T. Haller's picture

I'm sorry to hear about your issue. You can contact CustomUSB for a free replacement at

Did you happen to use it on a keychain? The only time we've usually seen this issue is if someone attempts to place the drive on a keychain. The loop on the drive is designed for lanyards (aka carrying without much force applied to it). If you attach it to a keychain, it will either break or pull the drive apart. Nearly all flash drives will break on keychains within a few months unless you buy one specifically designed for it with an integrated solid metal loop of some kind.

Sometimes, the impossible can become possible, if you're awesome!

No keychain. Just tight fitting UBS sockets.

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I am in Australia and recently ordered one of your flash drives
Could someone give me an indication when the drive will be shipped and how long before i receive it


Sorry if this is the wrong forum for support, but it seems like the logical place for my questions. Sorry also for my first post being on the negative side.

I recently purchased a 32GB drive customized with my name on it. I was very busy before Christmas and didn't get a chance to try it out until after the new year.

My problem is this. The drive mounted nicley when I received it, but threw errors when I tried to start portable apps. I tried to start individual apps without using the front end and still got errors. No problem, i just reformatted the drive and added portable apps and the individual apps that I needed immediately.

The drive worked perfectly. I started portable apps, loaded my data and everyting was fine.

I only got to use it once and now the drive won't mount or even apppear as a device. What am I doing wrong? I'm no IT guru but I do work with computers all day so I'm a bit handy.

I have tried calling CustomUSB directly a couple of times and left messages but they don't seem to want to return the call.

Thanks for any help you may be able to provide.

John T. Haller's picture

CustomUSB's 1-800 phone lines are sales lines for folks ordering custom drives, mainly corporate. It's a separate line of business from their direct to consumer web store. For support regarding orders from their web store, like our custom drive, you can drop them an email using the address listed here:

They'll get back to you quickly and set you up with swapping it out. Sorry to hear you had an issue with the drive. Don't worry, though, CustomUSB will help you get it sorted.

Sometimes, the impossible can become possible, if you're awesome!

Thanks. I actually did get in touch with them this morning. They are responsive. I guess the CES is keeping some of them busy right now 'though.