Flash drives can be very useful for people who have tablets or phones without a microSD slot. They are perfect for keeping local backups of important files, easily transferring files between computers, and extra storage in general. The Lexar JumpDrive M20i has been designed to handle all three of these jobs for people with an iPad and/or an iPhone.
It has a full-size USB jack and a Lightning connector, but the feature that sets it apart from the crowd is that both of these are retractable so they’re protected when not in use.
This accessory comes in 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB capacities, with prices ranging from $34.99 to $79.99.
Build and Design
The JumpDrive M20i is quite small: 1.75 x 1.1 x 0.4 inches and about an ounce in weight. It is very easily pocketable, or can disappear into a gear bag or purse. The casing is mostly white plastic with a bit of translucent grey plastic, so it looks decent but not particularly professional.
The USB Type A jack is on one end, with the Lightning connector is on the other. They are connected inside the casing, so sliding one out pulls the other in. The casing is large enough, though, that both these connectors can be inside at the same time. This is especially important to protect the more delicate Lightning connector.
The sliding mechanism is controlled by a button on one side: push this in and slide it toward either end to expose the desired connector. The USB jack or the Lightning connector will lock into place when fully extended; the button must be pushed to unlock it so it will slide back in. The slider will also lock into place with both the connectors hidden so they don’t accidentally extend.
When plugged into the USB port on a Windows or Mac desktop or laptop, the JumpDrive M20i functions like any other flash drive, appearing as a removable drive. Files can be copied off or on with the computer’s built-in file manager, ready to be easily accessed later with an Apple tablet or phone.
It supports USB 3.0, giving it a maximum data transfer speed of 95MB/s when reading or 20MB/s writing. In our tests with a Surface Pro 2, we were able to move a 100MB file onto this drive in 5 or 6 sec. and the same file off in 2 or 3 seconds.
When the drive is first inserted into an iOS device, the user is asked if they want to install the necessary software. Every time thereafter, the user is asked if they want to open the application whenever the drive is inserted.
The JumpDrive app has features beyond just basic file management; this app can easily make backups of a variety of files and data stored on the tablet or phone, including images. It can also play music and video straight off the M20i.
When using this application to transfer files, moving a 100MB onto this drive took a mere 2 to 3 seconds, while moving the same file off the drive was 3 to 4 seconds.
This software was clearly written for the iPhone and hasn’t been optimized for the iPad. Many design elements appear huge on a large display, and there’s no support for landscape on many screens.
One of the main elements on the homescreen of the JumpDrive software is a large icon showing what percentage of the flash drive is being taken up by stored files. Tapping on this brings up a file manager that’s similar to the ones found on Windows or OS X.
Files can be moved and copied to different folders on the flash drive. They can also be deleted, or even password locked.
However, files and folders cannot be renamed while they are on the M20i. To handle this, they must be moved to the JumpDrive application’s storage area on the tablet or phone, renamed, and then moved back.
Files in other applications that support Apple’s “Open in…” function can be sent to the JumpDrive software and then moved onto the external drive.
The homescreen and file manager do not support landscape mode at all, which is irritating when using the M20i with a tablet connected to a keyboard.
In-app purchases can add support for ZIPing files to save space ($0.99), or integration with Google Drive ($3.99) to download or upload files directly in JumpDrive.
File Display and Media Playback
The JumpDrive application is capable of displaying the contents of a wide range of file types, including PDF, Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, Powerpoint presentations, and many more. The means the M20i is a good way to store large amounts of business or school files without filling up the user’s iPad or iPhone.
Thanks to support for ‘Open in…” files can be moved to other iOS applications for editing than moved back. For example, as part of our testing we moved a DOCX document from this Lexar flash drive to Microsoft Word, edited it, then moved it back.
Beyond business, JumpDrive can display videos in MOV, MP4, and others multimedia types. Fortunately, the app does support landscape mode in video playback, so movies and TV shows can take full advantage of the iPad’s screen.
There’s no way to charge the iPad or iPhone while it’s connected to the flash drive, so watching several long movies can put a big dent in the battery. It might be better to copy each movie to the mobile device and play them from there with the tablet or phone plugged in.
This software can also handle MP3 songs, so the M20i can be loaded up with music. The app supports shuffle but not playlists.
Video and music can easily take up a significant percentage of an iPad’s or iPhone’s storage, but this accessory can be used to offload them, clearing up gigabytes of space.
People collect years of images on their phones and tablets and don’t ever save copies; everyone means to make backups but somehow it never happens. The JumpDrive M20i takes the hassle out of the process. All that’s necessary to do is plug in this accessory, tap a couple of buttons, and all the photos stored on the iOS device are copied to the flash drive.
This can also be a handy way to transfer these to a desktop or laptop — just plug the M20i into the USB drive on a PC, then copy the files onto the hardrive, CD, or DVD.
The JumpDrive app can do backup of the data stored in the iPad’s or iPhone’s Contact database. The ability to back up the Calendar database is available as a free download. These can be restored just as easily: with the touch of a couple of buttons.
For an extra charge, Lexar offers some bonus features, like making a copy of all Facebook photo albums ($1.99), Flikr photo albums ($0.99), Instagram photos ($1.99), and a Tumblr backup ($1.99). In addition, the ability to make backups of the user’s YouTube channel ($1.99) or Vimeo videos ($0.99) can be purchased in the app.
Even if all the other features are set aside, the ability to quickly and easily backup all the images on an iPhone, and then display them on an iPad, or copy them to a PC makes the Lexar JumpDrive M20i a very useful item.
But all the additional features shouldn’t be left out of the equation, especially the capability to hold several movies and/or a large music collection without occupying valuable built-in storage.
If the JumpDrive application would add better support for landscape and renaming files then this would be a nearly ideal accessory.
The 16GB version of the JumpDrive M20i is $34.99, the 32GB one is $49.99, and the 64GB model is $79.99.
There are a number of other flash drives designed to add storage to an iPad or iPhone. This includes the SanDisk iXpand, as well as the Leef iBridge, and the PhotoFast i-FlashDrive MAX. These are all more expensive than the M20i. For example, the 16GB version of the iBridge is $59.99 and the iXpand 32GB is $80.