Apple‘s super thin flash memory lineup (the iPad and MacBook Airs) has made its mark through their combination of power and portability. Their sleek, featherweight forms have come with a trade off, however- there’s a limit to how large their internal flash-based hard drives can be. The iPad maxes out at 64 gigabytes (including space used by the operating system); the Airs are limited to 128 gig in the 11 inch model and a whopping 256 gig in the 13 inch. While cloud-based solutions often provide excellent solutions to limits on internal storage, what’s a user to do when they want more local storage space?
The MacBook Air may be sleek but it’s still a fully functional laptop. The latest model’s USB3 and Thunderbolt ports allow for all sorts of external hard drives for the data hoarder. If you want to preserve the aesthetically slender profile of your Air (or an external drive just isn’t practical) you may want to look into this budding Kickstarter campaign. The Nifty MiniDrive reached its goal of $11,000 almost immediately, and as of this writing there are 23 days of fundraising left and their campaign is close to $150,000. The concept is a very simple one- instead of the arduous and warranty-voiding task of cracking open your laptop and replacing the hard drive, the creative team behind the Nifty MiniDrive decided to rely on the laptop’s SD card slot. While SD cards provide cheap and readily used memory, the cards aren’t designed to stay in the Air’s port. The cards protrude a couple millimeters to facilitate removal but could damage the laptop’s internals if left in as even the best laptop bag can allow for sliding and jostling. The Nifty is an adaptor for a microSD card that fits flush with the laptop’s chassis, preventing possible damage or snags. The makers suggest using the Nifty plus a sizable microSD as an internal Time Capsule drive, providing a set and forget backup should your laptop be compromised.
The iPad is another matter. The tablet doesn’t sport any port other than the standard 32-pin sync port all iOS devices use. While the Camera Connection Kit can allow an SD card or USB drive to be connected, it’s only meant to allow importing of photos and video to your iPad’s existing internal storage (although clever users have many other uses). If you need more storage for your iPad media but you’re not hack-inclinded and can’t rely on a cloud storage solution, Seagate may have the answer to your needs (courtesy of Cult of Mac). The GoFlex Satellite is an amped-up version of Seagate’s standard GoFlex external hard drive, providing a connection to your iPad via an internal wifi hotspot. The GoFlex Satellite isn’t a perfect solution (the iPad doesn’t have a file browser, after all) but it will provide ample space for streaming music or video to your device. the downside is that the connection replaces your normal network connection, so you’ll have to manually switch between the hard drive an your normal network connection for other uses.
While an interesting solution I’d much rather rely on streaming options for my iPad, although I am rarely away from a wifi hotspot. I haven’t had a MacBook Air for some time (after graduation and my first iPad purchase I found I didn’t need a full laptop) but I am fascinated by the Nifty. While not a solution for everyone, it is positioned perfectly for those that need some extra hard drive space or would like a Time Capsule drive while out and about.