Friday, May 9, 2014

Out of storage on your iPhone or iPad? Here's how to add more space cheaply.

Apple's devices infamously rely on fixed storage. If you need more space, well, too bad.

Granted, you can try a utility like PhoneClean, which can reclaim some space , but that gets you only so far. For any kind of significant storage boost, you have little choice but to upgrade to a more capacious iPhone, iPod, or iPad.

Unknowingly to many, you do have one other option. A growing number of devices give you extra space for music, movies, photos, documents, and other data, and some of them are surprisingly affordable. How? With wireless card readers (also known as media hubs), which connect via Wi-Fi to your devices. So instead of popping a microSD card inside your iPhone or iPad (which, of course, is impossible), you pop one into an external drive you can keep stowed in a bag, pocket, etc.

Suppose, for example, you're taking a long trip. You want to bring along your entire music library, not just the handful of playlists that fit on your 16GB iPhone 5, and enough movies to last you through two or more long flights.

With one of these readers, you can stock, say, a 32GB SD card with more than enough songs and videos, while still leaving space on your Mini for apps and other stuff. And several models support USB flash drives as well.

Here's how most of these devices work:
Step 1: Connect the reader to your PC, then fill it with any and all media/data you want to bring along.
Step 2: Install the companion app that goes with the reader.
Step 3: Run the app, then connect to the reader. Now you can stream your media, view your photos, access your documents, transfer files, and so on.

One key feature to look for when shopping for a wireless reader is a pass through option, which allows your device to stay connected to a Wi-Fi network while simultaneously connected to the reader. Otherwise it's a huge hassle to disconnect and reconnect all the time.

IES currently offers two products that will help you with your storage needs:

The Iogear MediaShair Hub sells for only $99.95. It is no larger than a deck of cards, looks like a miniature router, and can double as a mobile access point. The MediaShair accommodates both SD cards (or microSD with an adapter) and USB drives. It works quite well with iOS devices, even if its app is a little clunky to use and not great as a music player. You can even top off your iPhone's battery by plugging directly into the MediaShair's USB port.

Our other option is the RAVPower FileHub 5-in-1, which sells for $74.95 and includes a larger battery than the MediaShair. It offers both Wi-Fi hot-spot and NAS features, and works with both SD or microSD cards, and USB drives.

In an ideal world, Apple devices would have expansion slots. Why pay monthly for cloud storage when all you need is a $75-$100 card reader and some inexpensive memory cards / flash drives?

Interested? Find out more about these two products using the links below:

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