- Combines charging and additional storage
- Well built and robust
- Decent value
- Shorter than typical charging cables
Quick TakeAlthough a bit short, the JumpDrive C20i combines a Lighning charging cable with a flash drive compatible with iPad and iPhone, bringing additional storage and on-the-go backups.
Every iPad user should travel with a Lightning/USB cable so they can recharge their device, and an external flash drive is a great way to extend to storage capacity of a tablet. Lexar now offers the JumpDrive C20i which combines these functions. This accessory comes in 16GB, 32GB, 64GB, and 128GB capacities, with prices that start at $41.99.
Build and Design
The JumpDrive C20i looks like a regular charging cable for an Apple device, except that it’s just 5.5 inches long. On one end is a Lightning jack and on the other is a full-size USB 3.0 Type A jack.
There’s little sign of this accessory’s ability to function as a flash drive, as this hardware is integrated into the slightly oversize USB jack. There is a very small blue LED on this portion of the JumpDrive that blinks when data is being transferred — users should never remove this drive from their iPad or PC while it’s blinking. The housings around the two jacks are aluminum, and the connecting cable feels robust. Still, Lexar didn’t include anything to protect the two jacks at opposite ends of this accessory, so a bit of care when transporting would probably be wise.
When they made this cable as short as it is, the designers of the C20i emphasized portability over functionality. This cable is small enough to be very easy to carry around, especially as there’s a built-in clip that can be used to hold it in a C shape. On the other hand, the length can make it challenging to plug an iPad or iPhone into a charger that’s in a wall socket — something like a box to bring the mobile device up closer to the socket is often necessary. This isn’t relevant if the JumpDrive is being plugged into a laptop, of course.
When the JumpDrive C20i is plugged into the USB port on a Windows or OS X computer it functions like any other USB flash drive, appearing in the file manager as a removable drive. We tested its performance with USB Flash Benchmark and a Microsoft Surface Pro 2‘s USB 3.0 port. We found that when working with a 16MB file, its average read speed is 87.3 MB/s and its write speed is 30.3MB/s.
The Lightning jack of the C20i can be plugged into an Apple tablet or phone to charge it while the Windows device is still accessing the contents of the flash drive. In our tests, an iPad Pro was charged at full speed by this accessory. Not surprisingly, the iOS device can’t access the files stored on the flash drive at the same time as a PC, but by plugging the JumpDrive into the iPad or iPhone first the mobile device is given sole access to them. If the C20i is then plugged into a laptop, the PC can continue to charge the tablet or phone. There are no benchmarking applications for testing file transfers over a Lightning connection, but in our tests copying a 100MB file from the JumpDrive to an iPad Pro 12.9 took about 3 seconds (roughly 30MB/s), and moving the same file back from the iPad to the flash drive took about 6 seconds (roughly 15MB/s).
The first time this accessory is plugged into the Apple device, the user will be notified that it requires a free application called Lexar Mobile Manager. This gives a way to access the files on the flash drive, as the iOS doesn’t have a user-accessible file manager.
Mobile Manager’s homescreen has a large dial that indicates how much space has been used on the flash drive, and how much remains. Tapping on this opens a file manager reminiscent of the ones built into Windows and OS X. This allows users to move files around, including transferring them to the iPad, or opening them directly in another application. Folders can be created as well, and files can be deleted from the JumpDrive, but for some reason they can’t be renamed.
For consumers, one of the best uses for the C20i is for holding a large movie or music collection without taking up space on the iPad. Mobile Manger can play videos directly off the JumpDrive, and there’s a built-in MP3 player as well — this supports shuffle but not playlists. Businesspeople will appreciate the ability to store huge numbers of reference files and easily access them with tablet or laptop. Lexar’s application also includes an area for holding and accessing files in the iPad’s built-in storage. Many other applications can transfer their files to Mobile Manager, which stores them locally. The files can then be moved onto the flash drive.
The software can quickly and easily make a backup of all the entries in the iOS Contacts application, as well as all the photos in the Camera Roll, and store them on the C20i. Users can set the application to automatically make these backups whenever Lexar’s drive is inserted into the iPad/iPhone. A drawback of Mobile Manager is that its homescreen, file managers, and many other screens are portrait only. This is frustrating when using an iPad with an external keyboard. The file viewers support landscape however, including the video player. Incidentally, this is the same application used by the Lexar JumpDrive M20i, a flash drive designed for iPad and iPhone.
Traveling with a power cable is a no-brainier for any tablet or phone users, and the Lexar JumpDrive C20i can handle this as well as doing double-duty as additional storage for multimedia or work files. It’s a bit short, but this can be worked around, and the accessory is very portable.
Lexar charges $41.99 for the 16GB version, $61.99 for the 32GB one, $95.99 for the 64GB version, and $136 for the 128GB one. For comparison, the SanDisk iXpand Flash Drive, which is also designed to work with iPads, is $80 for a 32GB version or $120 for a 64GB version at $120. This drive uses USB 2.0 but has better software. Another option is the Strontium iDrive USB 3.0, with a 16GB model selling for $75, a 32GB version at $90, and a 64GB version at $95. Compared with these, Lexar’s offering is relatively inexpensive, especially as, unlike the rivals, it can also be used as a data/charging cable.