Imation Link Power Drive for iPhone
Use this drive to give your iPhone extra storage and battery life while you are on the go
Imation's Link Power Drive serves double duty as an external, on-the-go storage device and portable battery charger for an iPhone. It comes in useful when you want to carry extra music and video files with you, which you can then play directly off the drive; at the flick of a switch, you can then use the drive to charge the iPhone's battery.
It's a product that makes sense in the overall scheme of things, considering that Apple stipulates external drives for its iOS devices should have their own power supply in order for the user's iPhone experience not to be tarnished by the extra battery consumption external drives require. We first saw a drive like this when SanDisk released its iXpand flash-based, on-the-go drive for iOS devices and explained to us why it had its own power supply.
Rather than just offering storage and being done with it, Imation's product is differentiated because of its extra battery capacity and the ability to also charge an iPhone (but not an iPad). At the same time, it's also a bulky product that can be harder to handle than a dedicated flash drive (such as SanDisk's) while it's being used. It has dimensions of 73x64x22mm and there are a couple of short cables snaking around its perimeter. One is a regular USB 2.0 cable for charging the battery and getting files onto the drive, and one is Lightning cable to connect to an iPhone.
The lithium polymer battery inside the Imation Link Power Drive is rated at 3000 milliamp-hours, and it can give an iPhone almost one full charge before it stops charging. It doesn't charge an iPhone automatically the moment it's plugged in. Instead, there is a switch on the side of the drive that you need to flick to the on position (indicated by an 'I'), which will then initiate the charge. Flick it back to 'O' and it will then go back to plain old drive mode.
During our tests, we plugged in and switched the Imation drive to charge when our iPhone 6 was at 10 per cent battery life. It took about 1hr 40min for the external battery to juice the iPhone's battery back up to 95 per cent. At this point, the battery indicator on the Imation drive, which consists of four white LEDs, flashed only one of its LEDs, indicating it was almost out of power.
Because the drive stopped charging the iPhone before it reached 100 per cent, we figure that Imation purposely leaves some petrol in the tank in order for the drive to be operational. Indeed, power is needed in the drive itself so that its contents to be accessible. Despite being used to almost fully charge the iPhone, we were still able to use the drive for a further couple of hours of video playback.
In order to access content off the drive, you must install the Link Power Drive App from the App Store, which will give you the interface you need to browse and play the files you've transferred to the drive. Simply click on the Drive icon to see those files.
It will be able to play MP3s, MP4 and MKV video files, but support for other formats such as AVI videos and FLAC music files is missing; these feature an icon indicating 'other' file type, and we were greeted by 'file type not supported' messages' when we tried to play them. You can see a list of supported file types on Imation's site.
When the drive has battery life remaining to play content, its icon will be active in this app. When the drive doesn't have enough charge to play files, it will be greyed out and you will only be able to access content that is stored locally on the iPhone. There is no battery indicator within the app, so you have to rely solely on the physical button and four LEDs on the drive. When the last LED flashes, that's the time to charge it, otherwise you can pull a Kramer and find out how long you can access content off the drive until the tank is bone dry.
To charge the Imation Link, you need to connect it to a phone charger or computer. It has an exceedingly short USB cable of barely 30mm, which can make it inconvenient to use with a phone charger, especially if the power outlet puts the charger in a hard-to-reach position. The Imation drive will either have to hang from the charger or reside on the floor for the two and a half hours it will take to fully charge the Imation again.
You can get the Imation Link Power Drive in three sizes: 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB. Our review is based on the 16GB model (with a formatted capacity of 14.4GB in FAT32 format), which costs $130 ($150 in New Zealand). The 32GB costs $150 ($170 in NZ) and the 64GB costs $190 ($230 in NZ).
It's worth a look if you want an external battery that can also double as a drive for storing large files, or for backing up files from the phone to the external drive. If you're primarily after a drive and don't care much for a battery top-up, then SanDisk's iXpand drive is a better option due to being a smaller product and supporting more file formats.
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