PhotoFast MAX (starting at US$79.99 for 16GB) is the latest incarnation of what used to be known as the i-FlashDrive. Take a USB 3.0 flash drive, add a Lightning adapter to one end, and toss in an iOS app to organize and view files, and you have an iFlashDrive. Let’s start this review with a bit of history.
Way back in the year 2009 (remember that year?), one nasty little problem showed up with the iPhone — if you wanted to move some large files between it and your Mac or PC, you were stuck trying to do it through iTunes. That didn’t always work, as there were certain file types that just weren’t recognized.
Along came the i-FlashDrive, which at that time had a USB 2.0 connector on one end and a 30-pin dock connector (remember those?) on the other. I found the device to be surprisingly useful, particularly when I wanted to transfer large video files to or from an iPhone.
Fast-forward to 2015, and PhotoFast has released the PhotoFast MAX. The idea is still the same, but now you’re looking at a speedy USB 3.0 flash drive and a Made for iPhone (MFi) compliant Lightning port on the other end. The new device is about two-thirds the size of its ancestor, and comes with covers to protect both the Lightning and USB connectors.
It just so happens that I have the perfect situation for testing a 16GB PhotoFast MAX. My wife just finished making a one-hour slideshow file in Photos for OS X that was exported as a .m4v video file about 1GB in size. I installed the free i-FlashDrive ONE app onto her iPad — the new app replaces the original i-FlashDrive HD app that is still available for those using the older hardware.
The newer version of the app offers connectivity to Dropbox and Google Drive, as well as YouTube. The latter is a wonderful idea, as it is now possible to discover videos and add them to the i-FlashDrive ONE playlist for later viewing.
PhotoFast i-FlashDrive ONE app slideshow
Although her 27-inch iMac (my old hand-me-down iMac) isn’t equipped with USB 3.0 ports, the transfer of the slideshow file to the PhotoFast MAX was speedy and easy. Once the file was stored on the MAX, I fired up the i-FlashDrive ONE app and plugged in the MAX. The file appeared in “external files”, and I then copied it from the drive to the i-FlashDrive ONE app’s storage. That took just a few seconds thanks to the speed of the Lightning connector.
As my wife is going to show the slideshow using a projector, I wanted to make sure that the i-FlashDrive ONE app would not only play the file, but allow projection of it. Since the file is stored as data in the i-FlashDrive ONE app, it’s not accessible from the standard iOS Videos app.
That’s where the i-FlashDrive ONE app failed me. It wouldn’t show the video in full-screen mode, instead just showing a smaller window that — when projected — still showed the iPad’s status bar at the top of it. The app did show the video correctly on an iPhone 6 Plus, but it should work properly on any iOS device with a Lightning connector that’s running iOS 8.
The PhotoFast MAX is a wonderful way to carry extra content — up to 128GB of it — or back up your favorite iOS device in a flash (no pun intended). With USB 3.0 and a Lightning connector, the device is ready to use with any up to date Mac, PC and iOS device with the exception of the new 12-inch MacBook. But don't worry -- PhotoFast has a USB-C version coming out soon. The new form factor of the PhotoFast MAX makes it a device you’ll want to carry with you all the time. The i-FlashDrive ONE software needs a little bit of work, though.