Review: SanDisk iXPAND

Ever wish Apple would just let you put an SD card into your iPad or iPhone to create more room for movies, music, or photos? Of course you do. But Apple makes a lot of money on upgraded memory configurations.  There is, however, an option: the SanDisk iXpand ($99.95). 

The iXPAND provides between 16 GB and 128 GB of extra memory to iOS. It doesn’t add memory like an SD card does on Android, which integrates directly with the OS. Rather, SanDisk provides an app that manages the content on the device and calls into iOS features like saving photos from the iXpand to the Photos, or invoking the video player to watch a video file. Yes, this means if you have unprotected video files you can load up the iXpand and play those files on your iPad without syncing them via iTunes.

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Photographers and videographers will also like the iXPAND as it is equally adept at taking files in from iOS. Fill up local memory, and use iXpand to offload and keep shooting.

Now, the design of the iXPAND is pretty interesting. Protected by a removable clear plastic cover on one end is its USB port, which is used to transfer files to and from a Mac or PC. The magic is tucked into the top of the iXPAND as a rubberized lighting connector. It seems a little odd, and feels a bit short, but if you think of the iXpand just as extra memory, it makes sense to keep it as compact as possible. That said, it can make for awkward device handling.

iXpand contains its own battery, so does not draw power from iOS. It is imperative that it be charged before use, especially if you are planning to watch movies on a long plane flight.

SanDisk has been very good at keeping its software up to date with iOS version upgrades, as well as in improving performance and fixing bugs.

For those interested in protecting their data, the iXPAND includes password protection.

If you need to backup photos or video from your iOS device, or if you want to expand access to content, the iXPAND is a solid product from on of the top companies in computer memory. I still like the wireless drives from Seagate. The Seagate drives hold a whole lot more content, but iXPAND is much more portable, rugged, and compact. The future belongs to solid state memory and SanDisk has a very good product. 

I would like to see retractable connectors to make for a self-contained unit that feels less kludgy from the hardware interface design standpoint. I never like portable devices that require very losable pieces like covers, or oddly extruded connectors that don’t make aesthetic sense.

I have read some complaints about the speed of iXPAND, but my tests show it to be pretty snappy on photo backup. Video file backup, as expected, will take significantly longer depending on the size of the clip. Performance for watching videos was smooth on the iPad Air 2 and the iPhone 6.

Regardless of hardware design improvements that would make a better product, the iXPAND is a regular companion on trips short and long, and at conferences, like Comic-con, where everything begs for a photograph and the photographs demand a backup.

Top image credit: lzf / Shutterstock.com

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Daniel Rasmus's picture

Daniel W. Rasmus is the Founder and Principal Analyst at Serious Insights. He is the author of Listening to the Future, Management by Design and Sketches of Spain and Other Poems. Rasmus teaches at Bellevue College where he teaches Social Media and Personal Branding.