Under the Radar

OLALA's 'Made for iPhone' Portable Devices

OLALA pays for the extra testing that allows then to display the Apple-approved "Made for iPhone" logo on their products. Shortly after Apple first launched the Lightning connector, there was a flood of unlicensed cables that seriously undercut the manufacturer's price. A few years later, a drawerful of dead bargain cables in my desk proves that it's worth a little extra cash to get the good stuff.

OLALA's iDisk ID300 Flash Drive Stick offers a surprisingly effective solution to your overstuffed iPhone or iPad storage problems and the S75 Power Bank offers an all-in-one solution to your backup battery needs.

 

The current generation of the iDisk comes in either a 32GB ($39) or 64 ($49) size. That's a high price if you're thinking about a standard USB drive, but the iDisk is specifically designed to make it easier to transfer data on and off your iPhone or iPad. If you're regretting the 16GB or 32Gb (or even 64GB) storage choice you made when you bought your device, that $39 is a lot cheaper than upgrading your phone.

The iDisk is all metal and there's a cover that flips around to protect the end you're not using. There's a USB 3.0 connector for your computer and a certified lightning connector to plug into your Apple device. When you first plug the iDisk into your iPhone or iPad, you get a prompt to download and install the iDisk application from the App Store.

There are some specific ways this device could be useful, especially if you don't use iCloud to sync your files:

  • If you shoot a lot of video with your iPhone, it's easy to transfer to the drive and then load it onto the computer so you can quickly delete the original file and free up space.
  • If you have a lot of documents that you want to access on your iPad, you can transfer those quickly without a sync or just read them while they're on the drive and not actually load them onto the device.
  • If you don't subscribe to a music streaming service like Spotify or Apple Music, you can load up music on the iDisk and listen to it via the iDisk app.
  • If you have non-DRM movie files (a/k/a torrent downloads), you can also watch those via the iDisk app.
You can't transfer music or movie files from the iDisk but you can load documents, photos and iOS movies from it to your Apple device. The software looks like it's from 2009 and isn't quite as polished as most of the apps you use everyday, but it gets the job done. The iDisk isn't something that everyone needs, but it's incredibly useful for people who do have a storage problem.

The 7500 mAh S75 Power Bank ($43) offers a solution for the most annoying thing about external batteries: keeping track of the cables. They disappear into the bottom of your bag, you left it in the kitchen, you didn't realize you left it on the counter after you charged the battery or you forgot the charge cable when you left on a road trip.

The battery's top side is actually a panel that slides back to reveal a built-in lightning cable and USB cable. The lightning cable charges your iPhone or iPad and the USB plugs into a computer or outlet charger to recharge the battery.

The side of the battery has a charge indicator, an outgoing USB port so you can charge a second device if you've got the cable and a micro in port as a second charging option with the included micro USB cable.

The piece that wraps around the unit is metal but the sliding top and bottom are made of plastic. This is not a battery you'd describe as "rugged," but it would hold up well in an office backpack if not a field kit. There are less expensive batteries but you're buying this one for the built-in cables. If you misplace/lose cables when you travel, you can quickly make up the price difference buying just one or two overpriced lightning cables at an airport kiosk.

These are well-made products. If your needs match the uses described in this review, they're worth the money.

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