I love my iPad.
I love using it to keep up with my blogs. I am surprised how much I enjoy watching movies and TV on it. I particularly enjoy reading on it. Which is a good thing since I have a large collection of ebooks and .PDF books. The iPad is my weapon of choice among tablets for a number of reasons: It’s reliable, sturdy, has a beautiful display, integrates with iTunes, and just works well. I highly recommend them for anyone interested in getting a tablet.
Yet despite my love for the device it is not without its flaws. Chief among them, for me, is space management. There’s no way around it, iPads are not cheap and getting one with a high capacity drive is a significant expense. However getting a more affordable model means you’ll frequently have to manage what you have installed on it. If you share the device with your family this becomes an even more significant problem.
There are ways around this issue to be sure. Aside from using your computer there are wireless hard drives and cloud storage options but those are only helpful if you have access to a WiFi connection, which may not be an option on trips. It has always been a point of annoyance that Apple is dead set against allowing direct connection storage devices while many Android tablets come with USB, SD, and MicroSD ports built in. An early model Android tablet that I own offers all three and I happily kept extra books on flash drives. I’ve been baffled that nobody has come up with a reliable solution to allow this with the iPad.
SanDisk to the rescue!
The new SanDisk iXpand line offers exactly what I’ve been looking for. These flash drives, only slightly larger than a regular drive, have both a USB and Lightning connection. By downloading an app to your iPad you can plug the iXpand into your device and get down to business. You can read, listen to music, watch videos, and look at images stored on the iXpand drive from the application and the performance is excellent. You can also transfer files to and from the iPad, which also allows for quick and easy backups. It also works flawlessly with your Windows desktop.
There are still some limitations to be aware of. First, there are only three sizes currently available; 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB. They’re more expensive than regular flash drives, but not unreasonably so. The 32GB model retails for around $80 and is currently on sale for just under $50 at Best Buy. Also the drive is FAT32, which will limit the size of individual files to under 4GB. If you’re looking to store high definition movies on it you’re probably out of luck, but standard video files won’t be a problem and .PDF junkies like me will be just fine.
The position of the iPad’s Lightning connector can be a problem when you’re reading, since the disk sticks out from the bottom of the iPad, but you can always turn the tablet upside-down and get used to the various buttons being in different locations. Also, since the iPad uses the single Lightning port for everything, you can’t have the iPad plugged into a power source while using the iXpand drive. This might be a problem on the road, or in my case when I get home from work and my kids have drained the battery watching YouTube videos all afternoon.
With those limitations in mind I am still delighted and I spent last night dumping files onto my new 32GB drive and put it through its paces.