Over the years, we've seen a number of devices that are essentially flash drives with a USB connector on one end and a Lightning (or in the old days, 30-pin) connector on the other. The iCirround iShowFast ($140 for 16GB, $190 for 32GB - Amazon affiliate links) is the latest and allegedly fastest such device on the market. Let's take a look:
The iShowfast is smaller than a competitor -- the SanDisk iXpand Mobile Flash Drive, but larger in size than the Leef iBridge or the PhotoFast Memories cable. All of these devices pretty much do the same thing, letting you move media from your iPhone or iPad to the drive, clearing up storage in the process. They're also great for moving stuff to your Mac or PC.
On the iShowfast, one of the connectors is always hidden. A sliding button hides the USB connector and reveals the Lightning connector, and vice-versa. The casing is made of gold-colored aluminum, and there's a single blue LED (at the end of the sliding button) to designate connectivity. One issue I have with this device is that the base of the iShowFast makes it impossible to plug into any iPhone or iPad that's in a case that protects the bottom of the device. PhotoFast's Memories cable, the Leef iBridge and the iXpand can be used with almost any case, which is a plus in their favor.
As for electronic design, the device is notable for using USB 3.0 for fast transfers to and from Macs or PCs. Many of the other products are still using USB 2 connectors.
As with all of the devices listed, the first thing you need to do in order to use the iShowFast is to install an app on your iOS device. In this case, the app is iShowFast (free) and takes up a scant 11.3 MB of space on your iPhone or iPad.
All of the apps for devices such as this give the iPhone or iPad access to a file system in which documents, photos, movies and music can be stored and organized. The iShowFast app wanted me to set up a storage path for photos; this makes it possible for all photos or videos taken with the iPhone or iPad to be saved directly to the storage on the iShowFast.
This is where my review got weird. With my iPhone 6s Plus, using the app with the iShowFast plugged in caused it to reset. This didn't just happen one time; during the time that I was working with the device, any attempt to move a file reset my iPhone. Even without the iShowFast attached to my iPhone, the app crashed repeatedly when trying to view photo files that were stored on Dropbox or even on the iPhone.
I was finally able to get the device to work in a stable mode for long enough to transfer some files from Dropbox, the Camera and Photos apps, and my iPhone's media library for testing. The built-in media viewer in the app works quite well, and provided both excellent playback of music as well as fast playback of videos. Transferring a group of photos from the Photos app to the iShowFast was very fast over the Lightning connection.
The next thing I wanted to test was the speed of the USB 3.0 connection; would it really make a difference over a device equipped with a plain old USB 2 connector? I decided to test it by moving a 7.1 GB iMovie Library from my iMac to the iShowFast that was plugged into one of the USB 3 ports. Here are time comparisons against other devices:
- iShowFast: 6 min. 4 sec.
- Sandisk iXpand Mobile Flash Drive: 11 min. 59 sec.
- PhotoFast Max: 11 min. 36 sec.
- PhotoFast Memories Cable: 11 min. 35 sec.
- Leef iBridge: 26 min. 42 sec
To paraphrase Steve Jobs at a keynote, "Boom!" The iShowFast certainly lives up to its name, being almost twice as fast as its next competitor and over four times as fast as the Leef iBridge.
After a bit of a shaky start to this review, the iShowFast seemed to settle down and get to work. It could be that the app needs some work to get things working a bit smoother with the newest iPhone. As touted by iCirround, this is a very fast unit -- when you're working with a USB 3.0 equipped Mac or PC. But between the premium price tag and the tendency to crash my iPhone, it's not getting my top rating.