A Nifty MiniDrive Indeed
Ever wondered what else you can do with the SD Card slot on your MacBook, especially if you hardly transfer any photos via the SD Card transfers? Or perhaps you are using a MacBook Air or MacBook Pro Retina and the built-in SSD is quickly running out of precious space?
Here’s what you can do, stick the largest SD Card you can find and instantly get the additional storage space available for use! But here’s the catch with that idea, a regular SD Card will stick out like a sore thumb, both from an aesthetic point of view as well as a troublesome protrusion that may not fit into a MacBook case perhaps. The solution? The Nifty MiniDrive obviously.
So what is the Nifty MiniDrive? It’s basically a MicroSD adapter that’s custom made to fit perfectly flushed on your MacBook Air, MacBook Pro and MacBook Pro Retina.
First of when you get your Nifty MiniDrive, you’d see the rather simple card packaging of the product. It’s simple and gets the job done. Although as many on the Kickstarter backers have commented, there were too much glue that was used to secure the MiniDrive in place in the packaging. So in order to remove the MiniDrive out of the packaging, twist the MiniDrive gets ‘released’ from the packaging. And if there are any of the sticky glue left on the MiniDrive, just simply scrape it out.
The next step is really important. You really have to check the integrity of the Nifty MiniDrive before inserting it into your MacBook. There has been far too many cases of broken MiniDrives and leaving the adapter part stuck in your MacBook. In order to test it, just simply hold to the MiniDrive firmly, then using the removal tool that’s included, give it a gentle but hard tug to make sure the joint holds. If it shows any signs of weakness, or if it breaks, don’t try to glue it yourself and continue to use it! Instead, request for a replacement immediately here.
As you can see in my photos above, the MiniDrive Pro that I got broke when I perform the integrity test. Looks like the guys at Nifty needs further work with the production quality assurance. But there’s a slightly good news. It seems that the Nifty team is already working on a update in the product design that will eliminate this problem with their Mark 3 revision of the MiniDrive. So if you can wait for the replacement to be shipped late in May, then I’d suggest that you do.
But if your MiniDrive is intact fine, then all you need to do is just insert a micro SD card and plug it into your MacBook. Oh, and if you’re wondering, the MiniDrive Air fits pretty well on the MacBook Pro too. See the photo in the gallery below.
Once you insert it into your MacBook, open up the Disk Utility app and check to make sure that your MacBook is reading the MiniDrive properly and it should be in a read/write mode. If not, try to remove and reinsert the MiniDrive to get it working. For me, I had to remove and reinsert it once in order to get the MacBook to detect and read the MiniDrive.
Update: Looks like I’m also facing the read-only problem with one of the MiniDrive Air I have. To fix it just use a scotch/cello tape over the micro SD card. You can see the photo below for a reference. I’d also recommend you to request for a replacement immediately (link) and if you can wait, get the Mk3 version which should be out by end of May.
I’d also recommend your to check out this article of mine on how you can automatically un-mount and re-mount the MiniDrive and any other external media when your MacBook goes to sleep mode. You might want to do this since having an SD Card inserted in your MacBook prevents it from going into standby mode. You can read more about this here on Apple’s support page on standby mode.
In conclusion, I think the Nifty MiniDrive pretty (forgive the pun) nifty. You basically get to make use of the SD Card slot that’s often not used, and have an extra 64gb worth of storage space added to your MacBook Pro. And if you are using a 128GB MacBook Air, that’s a 50% increase in terms of storage space!However, the only downside of using this as extra storage is that Micro SDXC cards are still relatively slow compared to the internal SSD storage. The fastest and largest micro SDXC card there is today (Sandisk Ultra Micro SDXC 64GB) averages at about 8-9MB/s write speed and a 20MB/s read speed. So storing your regularly used files on the MiniDrive may not be a recommended use-case. Instead, you may want to consider offloading backups and rarely accessed files such as download location, iTunes folder, etc.
It looks like the success of the Nifty MiniDrive’s kickstarter campaign has spurred quite a number of similar products, one notably the similarly named The MiniDrive (link) priced at $20 on Amazon and has immediate availability. The initial version of The MiniDrive was functional but not aesthetically pleasing. However, they have since released a new version with the plastic end-cap, similar to Nifty’s MiniDrive which uses Aluminium instead. These MiniDrives are also available at Amazon but only for the MacBook Air (link) and the MacBook Pro (link), both priced at $30.
Update: I’ve reviewed the MiniDrive! Here’s the link to the review.