Model: PioData iXflash Flash Drive
Provided By: VinPower Digital
PioData is no stranger to the data storage industry. Established in 2002, the company got its start as a distributor of optical drives and recordable media. PioData expanded its product lineup to include duplicators, LCD monitors and digital cameras before becoming a casualty of the highly competitive optical storage market. PioData's story does not end there though. A few years ago, Vinpower Digital re-launched the brand to fill a void left by a top Japanese manufacturer when it decided to exit the optical disc drive market. In addition to optical drives and blank media, PioData currently offers a growing number of flash based storage solutions.
One of the latest additions to PioData's product lineup is the iXflash. Developed as the ideal pairing for your iPhone or iPad, this flash drive is equipped with both USB 3.0 and Lightning connectors. With these two connectors, the iXflash can be used to transfer files between your iPhone, iPad, or any computer with a USB port. PioData also offers a free mobile iOS app that allows you to take pictures and videos without using your device's internal memory and free up space by backing up your photos and videos to the drive. In addition, the app lets you use the iXflash as a portable media library and play back file formats that aren't normally supported by Apple.
Instead of coming on a card or in a clamshell, the iXflash is packaged in a small, white box. The front advertises key features like the drive's 64GB capacity and its support for Apple devices like the iPhone and iPad. There is also a plastic window which lets you look inside the box and see what the drive looks like. The back of the box provides a bit more information regarding the iXflash's features, including its ability to instantly backup photos and videos and transfer them between your Apple device and computer.
The iXflash doesn't come with a lot of extras. Inside the box you'll find the drive and a small quick start with instructions on how to download and use the iOS app.
The iXflash is fairly compact for a flash drive with both USB 3.1 and Lightning connectors. It measures 44.6mm long, 12.6mm wide and 8mm thick and tips the scales at a mere 10g.
The body of the iXflash is constructed out of lightweight, gray plastic and has a nice looking, matte finish. The drive is also protected by a silver, metal swivel that rotates around its axis to expose the USB and Lightning connectors.
I wasn't able to crack the iXflash open. However, using Flash Drive Information Extractor, I could see that the drive uses Phison's PS2310 controller. The app was not able to identify the memory chips but the flash ID (983C98B3 7672) indicates it is TLC NAND manufactured by Toshiba.
In addition to having both Lightning and USB 3.0 connectors, the iXflash's biggest feature is the mobile app available for Apple devices like the iPhone, iPad and iPod. With this app, users can take pictures and videos without using your device’s memory, free up space by moving files to the iXflash and watch movies and listen to music stored on the drive.
The iXflash app can be downloaded for free from the Apple App Store. Once installed, you'll find an "iXflash" on your home screen. Clicking on the shortcut will launch the app and, from the main menu, you can see how much is free on the drive as well as your device.
Along the bottom of the iXflash app you'll find icons for a variety of different features. The one that most people will probably use is the backup and restore feature which lets you backup all of your photos and videos or a select few. The app will also convert photos to a format compatible with Windows and Android if you want it to.
The app also gives you the ability to view all of the content stored on the iXflash. It includes viewers for many file formats, including Word, Excel, PDF and Powerpoint, and can play back music and videos in non-native formats like FLAC and MKV that aren't supported by Apple. These files can also be favorited and be continued where you left off.
The other big feature found in the iXflash app is the camera. While lacking some of the more advanced capabilities found in the built-in camera app, this one supports Live Recording Plus (LRP) which allows you to record live video or take photos and store them directly onto the drive. It also lets you pause and resume filming so that you can maintain one continuous video. On top of that, you can easily switch between the front and rear cameras.
And yes, there is a version of the iXflash app for Android. However, it doesn't have nearly as many features as the one for iOS. Along with a basic file browser, the app has the ability to backup and restore all of the photos and videos on your device. Unfortunately, it does not let you select individual files to backup like the iOS version of the app.
The test system used in this review is equipped with an Intel Core i7-6700K CPU, GIGABYTE GA-Z170X-UD3 motherboard, 32GB (16GB x 2) of Crucial Ballistix Sport LT DDR4 memory, Samsung 960 PRO 512GB SSD, GIGABYTE GeForce GTX 1060 and a WINDFORCE OC 6G graphics card. For the operating system, I installed Windows 10 Enterprise.
To test the performance of the PioData iXflash, I ran a series of benchmarks using CrystalDiskMark, HD Tach RW and ATTO Disk Benchmark. To get a feel for the "real world" performance, I also copied and pasted 1GB of random files and directories as well as a single 4GB ISO file in Windows Explorer.
First, I ran a few quick tests using CrystalDiskMark. This benchmark tool measures the performance of a storage device by testing its sequential read and write speeds as well as its random read and write speeds using blocks 512K and 4K in size.
According to PioData, the iXflash is capable of reading at 90 MB/s and writing at 20 MB/s when connected to a USB 3.0 port. Looking at the screenshot above, you can see that the drive had no problems reaching these speeds in CrystalDiskMark's sequential read and write tests.
HD Tach RW 188.8.131.52:
Next, I used HD Tach to test the iXflash's read, write and burst speeds as well as its seek times and CPU usage.
The performance here was very similar to what we saw with CrystalDiskMark. When connected to the computer's USB 3.0 port, the drive had average read and write speeds of 136.1 MB/s and 30.4 MB/s, respectively, as well as a burst speed of 98.2 MB/s.
ATTO Disk Benchmark 2.46:
I also used ATTO Disk Benchmark to test the iXflash's sequential read and write speeds. The test was run using blocks ranging in size from 0.5KB to 8192KB and the total length set to 256MB.
When tested with ATTO, the iXflash's read speeds topped out at about 140 MB/s and its write speeds at 34 MB/s.
"Real World" Benchmark:
To test the "real world" performance of PioData's iXflash, I copied and pasted 1GB worth of randomly generated files and directories. All of the files are between 1KB and 95MB in size and no more than five directories deep. To see how well the drive handled large files, I also copied and pasted a 4GB ISO file.
|1GB of Files||4GB ISO File|
|Read:||11 seconds||31 seconds|
The iXflash performed as expected, taking a minute and 13 seconds to write 1GB worth of test data and another 11 seconds to read it back.
The PioData iXflash is a great choice for consumers looking to backup or extend the storage of their iPhone or iPad. The drive is compact, well constructed and is equipped with both USB 3.0 and Lightning connectors. This dual connectivity lets users plug the iXflash directly into their Apple device as well as any computer with a USB port. Performance does vary a bit depending on which connector you use. However, when plugged into a computer with a USB 3.0 port, the iXflash was able to read at speeds as high as 140 MB/s and write at more than 31 MB/s.
In addition to it having both USB 3.0 and Lightning connectors, what really sets the iXflash apart from the competition is the mobile app that PioData has developed for iOS. The app includes a number of useful features including the ability to do touch backups as well as a camera that stores pictures and videos directly to the drive instead of using your device's internal memory. With the app, you can also use the iXflash as a portable media library and load it up with music and movies, including those in formats not normally supported by Apple.
The PioData is available now in 32GB, 64GB, 128GB and 256GB capacities and can be purchased from RunTechMedia.com or through some of the sellers listed on Amazon.com. Prices currently range from $20 up to $150, with the 64GB version reviewed here retailing for about $50.