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The Nifty MiniDrive - SD slot hack for the Macbook (theniftyminidrive.com)
55 points by websirnik on Sept 3, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 75 comments

I see a lot of uninformed and unwarranted (apple-)hate in this thread.

The removal tool, is a reference to how Apple includes the "SIM removal" tool with iPhones, which is just a paperclip. To me, it's obvious that you can just use a normal paperclip to remove this as well. This is also demonstrated in the video on kickstarter, which admittedly you need to search for. It's made as a semi-permanent piece, so the fact it's hard to remove doesn't matter here.

It's not "just an SD card adapter". It's something that fits flush with the design, so you can leave it in and it doesn't impact the visual appearance. If you don't care about this, that's fine, it's not for you. I could easily see myself buying this, however.

To all those who hate it, I'm wondering if they could recommend an alternative flash SD card adapter at a lower price.

As soon as this product launches, of it sells well, the mold factory that produces the product, or one of its neighbors, will sell a clone for $5.

And also importantly for most Apple users something that fits in with the design.

Well - for this apple user, I'd take any flush adapter.

Regarding the removal tool: My macbook air doesn't go anywhere without being inside of its case. Its case has a slip pocket where I can put a removal tool / PAPERCLIP like this.

I will probably get one to expand my SSD storage.

Long time reader, first time commenter. As someone who backed this Kickstarter, and considering some people are mystified as to why you would want this, I thought I might be able to provide some insight:

As an owner of a 128 GB Macbook Air, space is at a serious premium. An extra 32 GB or 64 GB would go a long way. I'm also on the go a lot, taking my laptop to and from work, using it on my commute, etc. Now, existing USB memory sticks, however little they protrude from the port, are always going to be a concern: they may fall out, or get snapped off in my bag, not to mention they use up a valuable USB port (I only have 2 after all). A miniSD-to-SD adaptor also isn't suitable: like an SD card, the adaptor would also stick out, making it likely to snap off or come out in my bag if I leave it in all the time, or for me to just lose something that small if I take it out all the time. This is especially an issue when, for example, I reach my stop while I'm in the middle of work and just have to close my laptop and put it in my bag without having to wait to eject a disk.

This product is clearly not for people with integrated miniSD card readers in their laptops (which is great for those who have them), and it's also not for people who leave their laptops at their desk all the time and can just use an external drive, but for someone like me this is perfect. I get the extra space, it doesn't use up any valuable ports (I rarely use the SD card slot), and it's not going to get lost or broken.

Possible uses for this extra space: (for me personally) I'm going to redirect my Downloads folder to the drive, and also use it to as a temporary backup when I'm on the go.

Just my two cents. £20 is a steal. Some people may think this is too expensive, but the laptop cost me £1000 when I bought it, and this £20 allows me to permanently add an extra 50% hard drive space without having to do something like void my warranty and swap out the flash memory. What's my alternative? Buy a new laptop? No thanks.

Yes - I'm in exactly the same situation as you. For $41 I can purchase a 64 GB SD Card (http://www.amazon.com/Komputerbay-Speed-Class-Memory-Write/d...) and for $35 I get the flush-adapter. It's precisely what I'm looking for.

Best part, is as the price of SDXC cards continue to drop, I can simply purchase a naked 128/256/etc... SDXC card, and use it with this adapter.

All in all - may allow me to delay a full year on my Laptop Upgrade. Definitely worth $35 to me.

You had me excited there for a second... you're linking to an SD card, while this adapter accepts microSDs. Cheapest 64GB microSD I was able to find is $59: http://www.amazon.com/SanDisk-microSDXC-Memory-Adapter-SDSDQ...

You charge what the market will pay, not what the item is worth. You describe the product to maximise what people will pay.

I find it weird that so many people on HN don't seem able to understand that. We all know it's just a small kludgier SD-microSD adapater that fits flush with Mac cases, and is meant as a semi-permanent addition to storage. We all know that the materials and assembly cost is at most a few dollars.

This kickstarter should be praised and studied as an example of added value or finding a niche or whatever the hell it's called.

That's some impressive marketing for a MicroSD to SD adapter, something that comes for free with almost every MicroSD card.

You pay $35 to remove a mild annoyance. It is definitely not for everyone. Neither are macs

You know, that's an excellent point. A good number of folks I know who own macs, simply are the sort of folks who would pay $35 in pursuit of "form". I tend to forget about that.

If you've ever seen the results of someone banging a SD card at a bad angle while in the machine, then "form" has value.

I'm going to take a guess that you don't know many non-IT people.

Because the majority of the general public care about how how something looks and works. Whether it's the car the drive, the clothes they wear, how their house looks etc. Most people care about form.

Eh, I'd say it's about 50/50.

You say it makes up half of the purchasing population, and you also say that you tend to forget about them?

Sounds spurious.

This post summarizes what I personnaly find wrong about Hacker News.

Ridiculous apple fanboys and total ignorance

And your post summarizes what annoys me about people who still throw around "apple fanboy"; you're in an endless witch hunt to find some kind of subtext in what people say just to call them out for their choice of computer. There was nothing in what mdonahoe said to suggest "fanboy".

Grow up.

I don't want to start a flamewar here but "Neither are macs" sounds somewhat arrogant to me, serious and honest question am I the only one to think that?

Edit to comment about the depth limit: I can't comment any deeper. (Karma related?)

There is a time limit to the depth - this is to help prevent pointless bickering.

"neither are macs" isn't, I think, arrogant nor judgemental. A person can buy a Mac if they like that kind of thing, but if they prefer other stuff they can buy other machines. Each person decides what's important to them.

About the device: I don't like the way that micro-SD card adapters stick out the side of the case. I'm not sure I dislike that enough to pay $35, but if people have that kind of spare cash I'm not going to piss and moan at them about it.

Notice how careful I am to avoid mentioning any actual thing that may influence a purchasing decision? That's how frustrating and pointless these conversations can be. :-(

Re depth limit, hit the permalink for the comment and you can usually reply that way. It's something to do with caching I think.

No depth limit that I'm aware of.

I cant comment on LoneWolf's reply, but I agree with his point. It was not my intention

edit: so is there a reply depth limit?

If there are a lot of replies in a short time, the reply link goes away for a bit to moderate the discussion. You can always reply from the comment's permalink.

As much as I might enjoy starting a fight, I'm sure we'd both just get downvoted until we can't read what we said anymore.

I wasn't trying to be snooty or anything with my remarks. I just meant that there is a market for a wide range of seemingly ridiculous stuff in this world.

In a land where people pay big bucks to have double eyelid surgery, inject toxins into their lips, and buy intentionally "distressed" furniture, a slightly better-fitting SD Card adapter doesn't seem so absurd.

Did you reply to the wrong post? There was nothing resembling fanboyism or ignorance in the parent.

This is pretty cool I currently use a lexar 32Gb usb dongle[1] though it does protude from the macbook air.

There are also usb drives that fit inside the usb port and does not need a special tool to remove, though I cant find it on amazon anymore.


There are some really cheap microSD USB adapters that fit almost completely inside the USB port. http://www.dealextreme.com/p/kawau-world-s-smallest-microsd-...

If the micro-sd card is treated as random-access storage, how much will its performance degrade with time compared with a ssd drive?

This. A SD card != a SSD. If anyone treats this as a built-in backup solution and writes to it too much, it's going to end in tears.

Setting aside the price, requiring a tool to remove it is a design fail. What I'd like is for it to have a removal prong that tilts out when pressed on one side (perhaps with a pen). I guarantee that I'd lose the butt ugly gizmo.

So it's ugly I'm going to lose the thingy. Oh and it's $35.

That's a red herring. You can remove it with an un-bent paperclip or a bit of string. You could knot the string or loop the paperclip around itself to make it easier to remove frequently, if you wanted to, but the device is intended to be removed rarely.

A tilting removal handle could break off, making it IMPOSSIBLE to remove.

I think you could design a tilting removal handle such that if broken off it could still be removed with a paperclip.

In any event, I could.

You're certainly free to market a competing product with a tilting handle.

You should! This started out as a Kickstarter.

The idea is that you don't generally remove it. In reality if you lost the tool you would use a paperclip.

Also I disagree that it is a design fail. What (i think) you are describing is poor industrial design; it would be more prone to break, as well as costing more to produce (bearing in mind this is being done by a startup).

The real design failure is Apple's. My laptop (like nearly every digital camera ever?) has a spring loaded sd-slot, that allows the SD card to sit flush with the edge.

Only after reading your comment I understood that it does not have a spring loaded slot, it's the first that I know of that does not have one. And now I'm wondering if there is not 1cm more to make the card go fully inside the computer? Doesn't look too hard (but maybe it is?).

The more I think about it the more I agree the real design flaw is from Apple.

As I see it, there are only two reasons why the SD card doesn't go all the way in in an Apple laptop:

* So nothing can get stuck inside. * So valuable space isn't used up inside the computer. The motherboard in a macbook air is tiny. The extra half-height of the SD card that would be necessary for it to go all the way in is significant.

Either way, as it stands Apple hasn't provided a spring-loaded mechanism, so they have to do something like this. They only made the removal tool by popular demand: in the Kickstarter they were just advising use of a paperclip, which seemed reasonable. Over-engineering is always a danger, especially when you're fighting to just get a product shipped.

A spring-loaded SD-slot that is not covered by a latching panel sounds like an extremely poor idea to me. All my cameras have such latching panels, but I can understand why Apple did not want to do that on their MacBooks.

Some laptops have a fake card to fill the slot, why not do the same with one that follows the outside lines so it doesn't look bad while keeping the slot clear from dust?

Much like the tool that Apple includes for removing sim cards from your iphone, this tool is a glorified paperclip. Not the end of the world if you lose it.

Also, prongs break.

That said, I don't have a macbook with an SD card. Nor am I running low on internal storage, so this thing isn't for me anyway.

What's the expected number of times you'll remove the SIM card from a phone in normal use? Hmm. 0.

Requiring a tool for removing removable storage media is a different order of inconvenience.

OK, so it's an adapter that's designed to be flush wit the case. I get it. For some this could be of value.

From a design standpoint, I would have been far more impressed had they taken the time to engineer a removal approach that does not require a special tool. The first thing it's going to happen is that you'll be on a trip or out of the office without the "key". There are tons of ways to make tool-less removal possible. This device is very simple as it has no real circuitry inside. It's an exercise in mechanical design, and they chose to not go the extra step and give it tool-less removal.

On my W520, SD cards go in all the way and then pop out when you push them in further (spring-loaded). Something like that could be built into this card itself pretty trivially. Added complexity increases costs a decent bit for something like this, though, I'd imagine.

That's the beauty of designing with plastics. Sometimes you can add significant functional complexity to a design without a corresponding increase in cost. The mold costs are not correlated to functional complexity. Adding the "push to remove" function could, depending on design, cost exactly zero both in terms of mold costs and materials cost.

The same is the case for a number of other options.

Intelligence insulted. Next.

I have a MicroSDCard inside a SDCard adpater sitting flush in my smaller-than-iPad netbook. I got it for "free" with purchase of a cell phone, before the iPhone existed. I guess I need to get a MacBook to reproduce this unsightly protruding SDCard problem so I can then get a "niftyminidrive" to solve it? According to the title, it's a"hack". Would that make me a "hacker"?

This is almost as good as Microsoft's "ReadyBoost". Otherwise known as a USB slot.

It's a $5 USB stick used as a swap file. No, it's a "Windows Memory Expander". And the price is $49.95. Oh.

Just FYI, but SD cards typically have abysmal random read/write speeds, and aren't faster than regular hard drives for sequential access. So don't expect an "SSD" with this.

unless you buy the very high-end cards

I'm mildly interested in something like this, and almost funded it on kickstarter for 30 dollars. But I really wish it was cheaper and available now. It's not at the point in either regard where I'd impulse purchase it. For now I'm going to wait to see if something like it turns up on dealextreme for cheaper.

BTW, the idea was discussed in this thread a while ago: http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=1206894

Am I the only one who remembered the RS-MMC cards? I'm not even sure if the macbook can read them (I don't own or will ever own one). But from what I remember it would fit and not be too long, maybe too short?.

Edit: Ok found out that RS-MMC are limited to 2Gb

WTF, soon, when computers have micro SD slots ready to roll that do not stick out (like my phone, smartpad or 9 inch netbooks) there will be no need for this. $35 for a 25 cent item - only for suckers.

So - what would you recommend for someone like me, who wants to add 128 GB of Storage to his MacBook Air, and maybe get another year's use out of it? This devices looks perfect - but I'm interested if you know of anybody else who makes a flush SSD card adapter.

Can this be used to store a bootable copy of say Windows 7?

Any real hope of 2TB cards in the near future?

That's what I've been wondering -- just because a 2TB card is supported doesn't mean that they can actually be built. I'm sure there's a hard limit on how much flash memory you can cram into the microSD form factor. Anyone know what that limit is?

When I first saw this project on KickStarter, I checked to see the current capacity of MicroSD and it was around 64GB. Not sure if it's likely to remain at that level for some time.

Even at that size, it could be worth trying to set one up with TimeMachine to give a second copy of critical files in case of hard drive failure in your laptop. Not quite off-site back-up though.

Even on-site would be better -- theft or physical damage would easily render such "in-place" backup moot. Better than nothing though, I suppose -- and I will readily admit that SD cards are quite tough (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/3939333.stm).

Thing is, the nice snug fit of this device (its entire appeal) goes against frequently taking it out to store elsewhere.

I guess you could use it with two MicroSD cards to alternate back-ups, storing one at home, one at the office. But then the sole advantage would be that during the day, you're not bumping into it sticking out of your computer. I don't move my laptop around during the day often enough for that to be an issue.

This would be really neat if the sd slot on my macbook even worked. Has anyone else had this problem?

Yes. I find that I can make it work by applying a little bit of pressure to the underside of the SD card that sticks out of the drive. This is easily my #1 complaint about the MBP.

Same issue. Blowing dust out doesn't work; there is none, still doesn't work.

It's just dust.

Blow in it like an old Atari or Sega.

Trust me.

Why would you use something like this, and not just a SD card?

"Unlike an SD card which sticks out about 1cm from the body of the computer, the MiniDrive sits flush against the body of the MacBook, becoming a semi-permanent feature of the computer."

So, it's a microSD card adapter that's a bit smaller that normal. That 35$ price is ridiculous.

So you can get that same feature (smaller size) for cheaper elsewhere? If so than it is ridiculous, but if not than it is only overpriced if people are not willing to pay for it. As with all startups, to get customers start by solving an actual problem (I use the SD slot all the time, but hate having it stick out)

There are some slightly uglier but cheaper alternatives for Raspberry Pi users that want a lower-profile SD card. They might be too thick for a Mac's SD slot though.

There's a $12 version on Kickstarter now: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/443556734/pio-microsd-ad...

Adafruit will also offer a similar one soon: http://www.adafruit.com/products/966

Well If it was me I would go the uglier cheaper way as long as it does the job.

Nobody is forcing you to buy it. It appears that a lot of people out there put a $35 value on that 1cm. I certainly don't, but I'm not going to tell them they're wrong.

I completely agree, but people lapped it up when it was on kickstarter. Know your market, I guess.

I remember when I first saw it on kickstarter and it was described as a kind of memory upgrade device. They later clarified what it really is but I wonder how many people really thought it was for increasing system ram.


"An easy to use device that allows anyone to quickly and simply increase the available memory in their MacBook computer."

"NOTE: A couple of people have pointed out to us that we have mixed our terms a little. To clarify; when we refer to the MiniDrive increasing the "memory" of your computer, we mean the storage space, not RAM. Sorry for any confusion that this might have caused!"

edit: link and quote

Is this designed to work with Time Machine?

It will work if you have <64 GB of data to back up. You can optionally exclude things that take up a lot of space like your Applications folder. Honestly though, your best bet would probably be to use a "real" drive for time machine backups and/or a third party online backup solution. Backblaze suits my needs quite well.

Now there's an interesting idea. 64gb is plenty for me to do a Time Machine backup of essentials. If that slot is bootable, I'd definitely consider it - an always-available easily-removed backup that you can stick in another machine without extra tools / power / etc.

The OS treats SD cards the same as any other removal drives, so you can choose it for Time Machine. Their site says microSD cards currently only go up to 64GB, so it is of limited use until larger cards become available.

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