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Review: Memory Stick

April 11, 2009


The iPhone is a gadget that, thanks to the many different apps, is setting the standards for smart phones everywhere. No longer do we expect our phones to simply be phones. The iPhone has raised the bar and turned your phone into a high-tech Swiss Army knife. It’s a media center. It’s a video game arcade. It’s a personal data planner. Sure, phones have done this before but not to the level that the iPhone has accomplished; and now with the launch of BlackBerry’s application store, we are going to expect our phone to be there for us much like the way chewing gum, tin foil, vinegar, and spit are to MacGyver when he’s trapped by the bad guys and needs to blow his way out of a stronghold. Memory Stick is one of those applications that wants to be just that — the tool you use in a pinch to get yourself out of a tight situation. In theory, that is what Memory Stick does. Your state-of-the-art iPhone transforms itself into a mountable flash drive. So if you suddenly find yourself in need of a few gigabytes of storage space and have no thumb drive within reach, Memory Stick makes that emergency storage happen. In theory, that’s what it wants to do. And yeah, it tries really hard to meet up to its potential.


Mounting in Moments When you tap Memory Stick for the first time, you access the integrated Help Manual. I get nervous around these features as many Help Manuals for applications of any kind are hardly helpful. Memory Stick’s Help, written in a clear, concise manner, had me connected quickly. The setup covers connecting on Windows (Vista and XP), connecting on a Mac, and connecting through a browser, all three methods being quite simple. From Memory Stick you get a local protocol address that you use as your link to the computer in question. Smooth and easy, my iPhone mounted on to my desktop computer as a remote network drive, ready to accept data. img_00021Taking Security in Your Data Swapping Under Settings are your preferences for Memory Stick which cover a variety of viewing options (file sizes, extensions, and the like), but here you can also set up your iPhone for File Sharing and File Sharing with Security. If you are copying between computer and smartphone sensitive data (maybe not the kind of files Jack Bauer needs to reveal the terrorists’ dastardly plans, but stuff you want to keep close to the vest), protections are available that will allow you to make data transfer secure. That’s nice to have on tap. Memory Stick is pretty simplistic in its setup and implementation so there is very little to do from here other than connect your iPhone to your computer via Memory Stick, and then copy your files. (Make sure you have the room before you begin the data transfer though.)


The Good: Like many geeks, I usually travel with memory sticks on hand, and like many geeks the ones I have within reach are either full or near capacity. Memory Stick is a neat tool for that “Frel me!” moment when every thumb drive you have doesn’t have the room for what you need. In a few taps, you can take advantage of any available capacity on your iPhone and grab whatever files you need. As the iPhone is connecting wirelessly to computers, you don’t have to worry about whether or not your thumb drives are formatted for a particular platform. Your iPhone is a drive in the eyes of the network you’re connecting to. You also have a third option to connect your iPhone with a computer, so if you need to get your data on to a Linux platform, you can make it happen via your web browser of choice. If you find yourself in a bind, Memory Stick is a viable option. The Bad: Memory Stick popped up on my home computer without a problem, and that struck me as promising. I gave it a few files to chew on: a high resolution photograph and a podcast I had in my archives. Just a few megabytes to see how it would perform. A few seconds later the data was on my iPhone. Yeah, sure, using a proper memory stick would take a moment and *bing* you're done, but a handful of seconds left me with a good first impression. img_00012Then came a situation setting up Memory Stick for a right tackling. I was called upon by my day job to teach a class in Adobe Premiere Pro. I already had files on a thumb drive, but I thought this would be a good workout for Memory Stick. Mounting up the iPhone once again, I dragged into the new volume a folder of files. As it was video, my folder was just over 1G of data. It was going to take my Mac Pro and the Memory Stick almost an hour to copy everything over. Now while I understand that over a wireless network transfer time can be slow, one hour for only a gigabyte seemed a tad too slow. Arduous as the copying for the larger files were, they did manage to get on to the phone without fail. Getting them off the phone was a different matter altogether. So I got to work and followed the same setup from the manual. All three methods — Windows XP, Mac, and web browser — failed to mount my Memory Stick. Troubleshooting really didn't provide any answers so here I was with my "backup" and no way of getting them on to a new destination drive, totally defeating the purpose behind the application.


I feel a touch guilty in giving this application poor marks but even as a free application I would not give Memory Stick anything higher simply because it does not carry out its purpose — to get your files from one Mac to the other by turning your iPhone into a thumb drive. With its inability to mount on a new machine (regardless of the platform or method), it doesn't seem to be more than just a way of turning your iPhone into a temporary place for your stuff. What's the point of having your iPhone working as a thumb drive if you can't get your files from it to another machine? If there are specific conditions for getting files seamlessly between machine and iPhone, a head's up would be lovely. To return to the MacGyver analogy, it’s a bit like Mac and the plucky ace reporter trapped in Bad Guy HQ's mop closet. With his clever combination of cleaning solvent, the shavings from plucky ace reporter's fingernail polish, and a few saliva-soaked wads of paper towels, MacGyver pours his chemical cocktail on the door's hinges promising the bubbly blonde at his side that they will simple melt off. Instead, the solvent manages to infuse the hinges with the frame, fortifying their makeshift prison cell. That's Memory Stick. A terrific idea in theory, but severely lacking in its execution.

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