Works With: SD-slot-equipped Mac
The MiniDrive is tiny caddy that lets you hide a microSD card entirely inside the SD card slot on your MacBook Air (or any other Mac with an SD slot). The idea is that you can cheaply add storage to your SSD-equipped Mac.
When I first wrote up the MiniDrive as a news piece, a whole bunch of readers got in contact to tell me how much it sucked, mostly because it didn’t fit properly into the SD slot on their Macs.
My experience has been fine,
so I’m putting down those bad experiences to being the first wave of Kickstarter order fulfillments. That’s no excuse, clearly – if you sell something it should work – but I can only review what I have to review. And so I will.
UPDATE: This MiniDrive has nothing to do with the Nifty Minidrive I saw at CES. Sorry for any confusion.
What It Is
Once the MiniDrive is in you can forget about it.
The MiniDrive is a tiny microSD adapter that’s the exact shape of a regular SD card, only with the end cut off. You slot the microSD card into the side, and then slot the MiniDrive card into the Mac. You have to do this quickly or the Mac won’t see the card. As you have to make sure the card is pushed all the way in, without the benefit of a “handle,” you need to use something like a coin or a tough thumbnail to shove it home.
The good news is that once you have done this you can forget about it.
To remove the drive, you need to slot a piece of wire through a hook in the outer surface. Because the MacBook doesn’t have a spring-loaded SD slot you can’t just push to eject like you can with some computers and most cameras. In practice this isn’t a problem as the MiniDrive is meant to be a semi-permanent addition to the computer.
The obvious benefit is that you now have up to 64GB extra storage in your Mac. If you have a 64GB MacBook Air then you just doubled its capacity. Speed depends on which card you choose to use in the adapter (the Wirecutter recommends the SanDisk Ultra, for $25 (32GB) and $49 (64GB) on Amazon), but clearly won’t be anywhere near that of the native SSD. But if you treat this as a kind of cold-storage overflow drive then you’re good.
HD movies run fine, even in the Finder in a Quick Look window.
In my testing I have been using the drive for movies and photos, both of which take up a lot of space on my Air’s 128GB drive. HD movies run fine, even in the Finder in a Quick Look window, and flipping through photos is just as responsive as doing it from the SSD. In this case I did a Select All on the photos copied from my Dropbox Camera Uploads folder (around a gig and a half of JPGs from a Fujifilm X100S), set the Quick Look to full screen and flipped through. The speed felt the same on the SSD and the MiniDrive, although as I said this depends solely on the speed of the card.
The MiniDrive feels a little cheap. The plastic caddy is fine, but the end cap feels loosely connected and rough. It’s far from the smooth aluminum finish of the unibody MacBook it’s meant to match.
The other problem is pretty obvious: the MiniDrive takes up an SD slot. This isn’t a big deal if you don’t use your camera with your Mac, but if you do then you might find it a bit silly to be using a USB card reader to get your images into the MacBook. On the other hand, this means that you can import the photos straight to the MiniDrive. This one really depends on how you work – I either import photos to a second internal HDD inside my iMac, or via camera connection kit to an iPad mini (from where Photo Stream magically transports them to my iMac and then my Dropbox).
The MiniDrive is a great idea, and I’ll be leaving mine in until I find a reason to take it out. Right now you can’t buy one from the official site, but the link below will take you to the product on Amazon.
I also came up with another use for it: If you reformat the SD card inside to be a proper Mac drive, and not the FAT32 file system that SD cards use as standard, you can use the MiniDrive as a Time Machine disk. That’s pretty neat, right?
|Product Name: : MiniDrive
The Good: A fantastic way to add cheap storage to a Mac, especially if you don’t mind losing an SD slot.
The Bad: Feels cheap, tricky to insert.
The Verdict Does what it says it does. It’s pretty great to have an extra 64GB for just $20 plus $50 for the microSD card.
Buy from: Amazon