PNY Duo-Link 3.0
£70 inc VAT (60p per GB) • pny.com
It might look like a USB flash drive – and it is – but there’s not too much difference between the flash storage used in most portable SSDs and the Duo-Link. The big benefit here is not the almost impossibly tiny size, but the fact this there are two connectors: full-size USB 3.0 and Lightning. Hence the Duo-Link name. There’s a list of compatible iOS devices on PNY’s site.
It should come as no surprise that the Duo-Link is expensive. At 60p per GB, it’s one of the priciest flash drives around. One reason is that you’re paying extra for the Lightning connector since Apple charges companies to use its technology.
Features and design
The design is slightly different from PNY’s older Duo-Link, but it still works in the same way: slide one way to expose the Lightning connector and the other for the full-size USB port.
That USB connector supports USB 3.0 for faster transfers than the previous model, another reason to opt for this one. When you plug it into your iPhone or iPad, it will bring up a message telling you it works with an app you don’t have installed and there’s a link to go straight to the Duo-Link 3.0 app in the App Store. Once installed, you can view files on the drive.
Its primary purpose is to offer additional storage for your iPhone or iPad, although this is completely separate from the device’s internal storage. The app lets you watch movies and listen to music stored on the drive, as long as they’re in a supported format – in our tests, it played MP4 files fine, but refused to play AVI. The video player is okay once you’ve figured out the controls, but it doesn’t remember your position in a video.
The app can access your iOS Camera Roll and back up your photos and videos to the Duo-Link drive and offers the option to delete them from your phone or tablet, freeing up space.
It’s just a shame that the app is almost impenetrable – the interface is unintuitive and there’s very little help or guidance. It took a great deal of trial and error, hampered by the poorly worded buttons and notifications, to work out how to do anything.
It’s also possible to copy files between the drive and the app, although the only real benefit is that it offers an easy way (which doesn’t involve iTunes) to copy films, TV shows and music to your phone. Don’t forget, though, that you can access them only in the Duo-Link app.
The drive is formatted with exFAT for compatibility with iOS devices, Macs and PCs. We found that the drive’s performance was relatively poor, reading files at 90MB/s and writing them at a lowly 26.2MB/s. That’s with large files. With small files – the type you’re unlikely to store on the drive – it was also poor, reading them at 2.9MB/s and writing at 1.2MB/s.
The only reason to choose the Duo-Link is to add storage for music and movies to your iPhone or iPad. While, technically, it does the job, it does it in such a ham-fisted way. Add to this the relatively poor performance and it’s hard to recommend. Jim Martin