The MiniDrive review

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No, this isn’t the Nifty MiniDrive. Instead, it’s simply called MiniDrive ( Yes. These two can be confusing as both addresses the exact same issue and both has very similar names. While I’m not going into discussing which came out with the idea first, I would, however, have to make comparisons between the two.

If you’re not already familiar with the MiniDrive or the Nifty MiniDrive, I recommend that you also read up my post here of my review of the Nifty MiniDrive.

Full Discloser: The MiniDrive Air unit that I received was sent to me as a review unit.

Let’s start with the price and availability.

There are essentially two versions of the MiniDrive. One without the faceplate and another with the faceplate that fits all versions of the MacBook, similar to the Nifty MiniDrive. The price of the MiniDrive without the faceplate US$20. And the ones with the faceplates are going for about US$30. But they do have a goal of making a US$6 MiniDrive, essentially using the proceeds they receive from the sales of the US$20-30 MiniDrives to fund the development of this cheaper MiniDrive. But it’s also important to note that the MiniDrive is available today! You can order it now and receive it as soon as it’s shipped out to you.

MiniDrive - Original without faceplate

MiniDrive – Original without faceplate

I’m sure many of us will also compare this with the Nifty MiniDrive which was priced at US$25 for the Kickstarter backers. While there is no news on the final retail price, we can all be certain that it would be priced above the Kickstarter pledge levels, US$30 maybe? Unfortunately, there is no immediate availability for the Nifty MiniDrive. So, unless you were one of the Kickstarter project backers, you’re out of luck from being able to purchase a Nifty MiniDrive at this point in time since it’s not available for retail yet.

So to summarise, pricing wise at this point (although not a fair comparison) both are roughly the same, with the MiniDrive being both cheaper and more expensive depending on the model. However, the MiniDrive has the advantage of being available right now.

Now, for the looks and functionality of the MiniDrive.

The gallery above pretty much shows you how the MiniDrive looks like when you receive it.

Generally, the built quality of the SD Card adapter itself seems better when compared to the Nifty MiniDrive. The current Nifty ones have the problems of the top cover (the one with the Nifty word printed) as some complained that it does not attach well to the body. A number of Nifty MiniDrives also suffered from the read-only problem due to its design. And on this note, the MiniDrive does not suffer from this problem, which is a great plus point compare to the Nifty MiniDrive’s design.

However, the faceplate of the MiniDrive which is made of plastic and spray painted with metallic silver paint even though made of a special a plastic with suspended aluminium flakes, cannot compare aesthetically with the Nifty MiniDrive’s faceplate which is made of aluminium. And the fit of the MiniDrive’s faceplate isn’t as well fitted as the Nifty MiniDrive too. But the Nifty MiniDrive also suffers from issues of the faceplate being detached from the body when strained, apparently due to manufacturing (glue) issues. This problem and the read-only problem has forced the Nifty team to revamp the design AFTER they manufactured the batch for the Kickstarter backers. And this is where the MiniDrive fares better. Looking at the way the MiniDrive is designed, it does not seem like it would face the issues that some of us Nifty MiniDrive owners had faced.

So aesthetically, the Nifty MiniDrive scores full points. But functionally, the MiniDrive is better overall since there’s fewer chances of failure.

The only last complaint that I have with the MiniDrive is on its removal process. As you’ve seen in the photos above, they bundled together with a red wire that’s to be used to pull out the MiniDrive. Loss the wire (which is extremely easy to) and you’d need to search high and low for something that’s as thin to hook the MiniDrive out when you need to. I would have liked the hole on the faceplate to be slightly larger to accommodate perhaps a paperclip that is easily found or provide a proper removal tool that you can hook to your keychain, like the one provided along with the Nifty MiniDrive.

Update: The guys at MiniDrive gave me a tip if you lose the red wire, a staple (from the stapler of course) will work too.

So in summary…

Both the MiniDrive and the Nifty MiniDrive has their pros and cons.

The MiniDrive Pros:

  1. It’s available now!
  2. It works well. No read-only issues, no faceplate detachment problems

The MiniDrive Cons:

  1. The price seems expensive (although there is the promise of the US$6 version)
  2. Aesthetically less pleasing compared to the Nifty MiniDrive

And again, if you think the MiniDrive is for you, here are the links to purchase them at Amazon.

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