SanDisk iXpand Flash Drive Go SanDisk/Western Digital $89.99 (256GB)/$59.99(128GB)
Offers physical storage for those who haven’t embraced the cloud or still don’t trust it.
I always travel with the SanDisk iXpand Flash Drive. It seems that many Serious Insights readers appreciate iXpand Flash Drive as it sits as the most viewed review to date (read it here). But the somewhat awkward drive needed facelift and Western Digital’s SanDisk delivered with the iXpand Flash Drive Go.
The drive offers backup, memory extension through saving images and video to the drive directly, and the ability to view larger video files without taking up the iOS device’s main memory.
Initial Thoughts: SanDisk iXpand Flash Drive Go
The move to a straightforward design from the mermaid tail and the associated convulsions requires to swim it onto an ios device, especially one with a case, makes a lot of sense. It’s probably cheaper to make and doesn’t require as many customer service questions.
The new design works well, but I’m curious about the engineering choice to create yet another form factor. I get moving away from the limitations of the older iXpand Flash Drive, but the iXpand Mini Drive packs a similar capacity into a smaller form. Increased memory size should not have been a limiting factor, especially when looking at even smaller SanDisk mobile products like the Ultra Dual Drive m3.0 targeted at Android users.
Unlike many cheap basic memory sticks with rotating protectors, the SanDisk iXpand Flash Drive Go delivers superior engineering. The drive suggests a slight tug to move the plastic housing from one position to another, a comforting construct when protecting exposed posts, in transit and in use.
At its most basic, the SanDisk iXpand Flash Drive Go functions as a fast conduit for photos and videos between PCs and iOS devices across the USB-C 3.0 bus for those who haven’t take to the cloud for one reason or another.
The iXpand Flash Drive Go currently supports iPhone 5, iPhone 5c, iPhone 5s, iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus, iPad Air™, iPad mini™, iPad mini 4, iPad Pro, iPad with Retina display, iPod® 5th Generation and newer, iOS 10.0.2 required.
The iXpand™ Drive App
The SanDisk iXpand™ Drive app supports the new drive as well as older iXpand devices. Features include photo, video, contacts, calendar, and social media (photos and videos) backup, as well as playback of compatible music and video from other sources. It also allows the movement of non-media files between the iOS device and the drive.
I use the device for long-form video playback, and not as a backup device. The Apple ecosystem takes care of my backup, and Microsoft covers my other files. When iPhoto overloads, I move older images and less necessary ones to my Microsoft OneDrive account, freeing up space on the phone and on iCloud.
The app is not always as responsive as I would like, which can be frustrating when clicking on something unintended, like viewing photos. Initially loading photos takes a while, which means either killing the app or finding another distraction while waiting to swap to another function.
For privacy, the app can password protect files across the Apple and Microsoft platforms.
SanDisk iXpand Flash Drive Go: What’s Missing?
It’s too bad SanDisk didn’t lean into Apple’s proclivities and offer the updated drive with a USB-C interface. That means that for most new Mac’s the drive will require a USB-C adapter or hub. It also means the iXpand Flash Drive Go will not work with an iPad Pro as a source or a destination (without a USB-C to USB-A adapter).
SanDisk sells the well-reviewed TopReel video player for $4.99 on the app store. It would be nice, given the list price of these drives, and the most likely use cases, to include the video player to those who purchase a drive.
As technology evolves it is hard to keep up. SanDisk created a better version of a good product. But the SandDisk iXpand Flash Drive Go is a transition product, caught between the worlds of USB/Lightning and USB-C all the way—between the world of Files and proprietary storage management—between physical memory and The Cloud.
As Apple makes the move to USB-C and opens up its file system, the era of proprietary solutions to overcome Apple’s shortcoming will draw to a close.
For those with legacy systems or legacy storage needs, the SandDisk iXpand Flash Drive Go will serve as a worthy addition to trips long and short. But for those with mixed environments of newer hardware and cloud services, the drive may not be the best investment. As Apple makes the move to USB-C and opens up its file system, the era of proprietary solutions to overcome Apple’s shortcomings will draw to a close. SanDisk would do well to make the software and hardware tweaks necessary to open up the iXpand to the Apple iOS Files app, and to create a version with USB-C to ensure future compatibility even while recognizing the long tail of the legacy market.
256GB iXpand Flash Drive Go provided to Serious Insights for review purposes.
Photos courtesy of SanDisk/Western Digital.
Daniel W. Rasmus
Daniel W. Rasmus, Founder and Principal Analyst of Serious Insights, is an internationally recognized speaker on the future of work and education. He is the author of several books, including Listening to the Future and Management by Design.