If you are an avid user of devices on the Apple iOS platform, then you know storage space comes at a premium. For those that travel and take images or videos, then you certainly know how fast you can fill your device. Thankfully, we now have our first iOS compatible flash solution with the SanDisk iXpand.
The iXpand flash drive from SanDisk sports several capacity options ranging from 16GB to 128GB. The sample we are looking at today happens to be in the middle of the pack at 64GB. Features of this flash solution include a USB 2.0 connection on one end followed by the Apple Lightning connector to allow connectivity on both PCs and your iOS enabled device.
To transfer files between devices, SanDisk has setup the iXpand with an app, which upon connecting to your iOS device, will pop up and ask you to install. Additional features include AES 128-bit encryption capabilities, along with the ability to play audio and video straight from the drive.
MSRP of the SanDisk iXpand 64GB iOS drive is listed at $109.99 with a two-year warranty.
Packaging for the SanDisk iXpand allows you to see the flash drive through the center of the box. To the right, we have the capacity listed with compatibility at the top.
The back of the packaging gives some use scenarios for the drive.
Here we have our first look at the iXpand. Its size is roughly three fourths the width of an iPhone 5s and about half as tall. The standard USB connection is housed under a plastic cover, while the lightning connector sits on the front of the drive.
As we mentioned in our opening notes, the iXpand allows you to encrypt your device with AES 128-bit security. This is available via software included on the device.
When we first plugged the iXpand into our iPhone, we were greeted by the above message.
We were then redirected to the app store allowing us to download the required application.
When first opening the application, there is an overlay showing where all your information will appear. This helps to enable a quick learning curve for the application so you can be up and running in no time.
One of the unique features of the iXpand app is the ability to allow the iOS device to automatically sync your camera roll to the drive when connected.
In the menu system for the drive, you can look at information about your iXpand drive and iOS storage. Down at the bottom, we have a battery life indicator for the drive.
The SanDisk iXpand is factory formatted with the FAT32 file system. While this means great compatibility between Windows and OS X PCs, it also limits the file size you can transfer to the device.
Above, we have the results of our testing in Windows 8.1. Since this solution is USB 2.0 compliant only, the performance does suffer quite a bit compared to other solutions.
Moving over to OS X 10.10, we found slightly better performance, but still quite terrible for this day and age. Read and write both were able to reach 15 MB/s.
The iXpand is certainly a unique device allowing easy transfer of data between iOS devices and Mac or Windows PCs, but it did come as a surprise to me that SanDisk would only enable this solution with USB 2.0 connectivity. This means for those that want to use the streaming functionality of the device, a 3GB movie will take nearly four minutes to transfer to the device, and if you decide to load up the flash drive to its full capacity, in our case 64GB, that would take you nearly 70 minutes.
With that said, and with the performance of the device out of the way, perhaps the saving grace of this drive is the iOS app. The iXpand Sync app is possibly one of the best utilities I have seen. SanDisk has designed it to be very straight forward and easy to use, and the added functionality of camera roll sync and its streaming capabilities only add to the overall package.
Moving on, the build quality of the drive is superb. It's not often we get flash drives encased in aluminium and the iXpand is one. The Lightning connector is held tight against the body of the drive to keep it out of the way during PC use. Then again, we have another downfall of this solution, in the size of the drive. Being about twice as wide as typical flash solutions, the iXpand has a tendency to block adjacent ports, or cause you to have to unplug surrounding devices so you can use it.
PRICING: You can find the SanDisk iXpand 64GB Flash Drive For iPhones, iPads & Computers (USB 2.0)-SDIX-064G-G57 for sale below. The prices listed are valid at the time of writing but can change at any time. Click the link to see the very latest pricing for the best deal.
United States: The SanDisk iXpand 64GB Flash Drive retails for $99.99 at Amazon.
Australia: Find other tech and computer products like this over at PLE Computer's website.
Product Summary Breakdown
|Quality including Design and Build||86%|
|Bundle and Packaging||82%|
|Value for Money||76%|
|Overall TweakTown Rating||79%|
The Bottom Line: SanDisk's iXpand might be the first solution to come through with iOS capabilities, but you will have to overlook the drives terribly slow performance, along with its over-sized footprint to make use of it.
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