[UPDATE: Feb 18, 2014]
This is not a bad device, but it has some kinks. The first is that the iPad doesn’t always connect to it right away. It’s best to use the iOS App from the manufacturer to make sure that the connection is working. The App also allows you to safely disconnect and connect other hard drives without powering down the device. Nevertheless, I found myself occasionally having to reconnect the WiFi, then refreshing the App a few time, before it would show me my drive.
Also, the iUSB Port only recognises a few hard drive formats, excluding NTFS, which is a bummer for Windows users.
Finally, I really hate the fact that it comes with a proprietary cable to recharge. You can recharge it via USB, but you must have the special cable along with you.
I have placed an order for the new iUSB Port 2, which includes NTFS support (allegedly) and also comes with two USB ports, to connect multiple devices, as well as a micro-SD port for storage cards. Wish that was a full-sized SD port. I am very glad to see that they’ve now included a standard mini-USB port to recharge the device, so I no longer need a proprietary cable.
Now, back to the original article…
I love my Airstash (read my article on the Airstash here), so I was intrigued by the iUSBPort device, which allows you to connect a hard drive to it and – like the Airstash – connect it to your iPad over WiFi.
The iUSBPort is very small and very light. Not as diminutive as the Airstash, but it fits in the palm of your hand.
Like the Airstash, it has 4-5 hours of battery life, offers an iPad-compatible App for browsing files on the device attached to it, allows 3 users to simultaneously stream movies (more users if accessing photos), and uses the Safari browser to open up those files (so they must be formatted in accordance to what types of files the iPad already supports). Also, both devices allow you to either connect only to the device, or connect the device to a network, so that you can still use the Internet at the same time as the device.
Unlike the Airstash, which uses SD cards, the iUSBPort allows you to connect a MacOS-formatted hard drive. Given that most SD cards max out at around 250GB, this is great for people who need more storage. For instance, I often travel with a 2TB drive to back up my laptop, which also contains my iTunes library. Now, I can connect this same drive to my iUSBPort and view all those movies and stuff on my iPad.
One thing I don’t like, though, about the iUSBPort is that it uses a proprietary USB recharging cable, so if I lose it, I’m hosed. Also, you can’t hot-plug your hard drives, but must power the device down to attach another one. There is a twenty second boot up time, too, so this can be a minor nuisance.
Mind you, the Airstash has its own nigglies, such as the shoddy build quality of the USB connector. Mine is starting to droop, because it’s bent. However, it is hot-pluggable, which I like.
One aspect of the iUSBPort that’s worth noting is that it shows up as a UPNP device. What this means is that there are some Apps out there (such as the CineXPlayer) that can browse the contents of your hard drive and even play movie and audio files that the iPad doesn’t support natively. I haven’t been able to get my Airstash to do this, yet, so this is a big plus.
Which is better? It’s a toss-up.
If portability and speed is your primary concern, then get the Airstash, since it’s is extremely small, doesn’t come with additional cables, and can hot-swap storage cards without powering up and down. For photographers that use cameras with SD cards, this is an added bonus, since they can be slotted directly into the Airstash and uploaded to the iPad.
If you crave storage above all else and require the ability to play files not natively supported by the iPad, I’d recommend the iUSBPort.