Looking for a portable, external storage solution for collecting and doing rough image processing in the field, I came across the Ninja Stealth Drive expandable storage solution offered by BaseQi.
For work in remote locations, I use a mid 2012 13-inch MacBook Air with 128GB flash storage. I do have a number of cloud-based drive solutions that I use for smaller items, but I’m not fond of A) committing to a pay a monthly or annual fee for additional storage to accommodate a RAW photo library, or B) connection issues for large files in the backcountry – both of which I encounter with the RAW files taken on my Nikon D5500.
I was originally looking at a possible external drive options when I came across the Ninja Stealth Drive. I’ve been using the tool for about a month now, and overall, I’ve been happy with the results.
WHAT IS IT?
The Ninja Stealth Drive is an aluminum MicroSD adaptor that fits snuggly into the SD card slot on the side of the computer.
The adaptor is incredibly easy use. Take the MicroSD card and slide it into the Ninja Stealth Drive, and then slide the adaptor into your laptop’s SD slot.
The MicroSD card will appear as a drive and will immediately be available for use. My intent was to use this as a physical storage drive, so I used Apple disk utilities to format the drive before using it.
Once installed, I used Adobe Lightroom to import test images from my Nikon D5500 via USB to the MicroSD card. The card that I purchased was a UHS Class 1 card, which worked well for my purposes. I found the reading speed of the system to be just fine for the rough work I wanted to do in the field, and didn’t see a noticeable hesitation in either the file import or when developing the images.
The Ninja Stealth Drive allows the user to expand the storage of their laptop as needed, and is available for MacBook Airs and MacBook Pros with SD slots. Storage is expanded through the MicroSD card, which currently range in size from 4GB to 200GB and in price from $5 to $100. For testing purposes, I found a 64GB MicroSD card on sale for about $30, slid it into the adaptor and plugged it into my system.
Design & Style
One of the first things that caught my eye about the product was how well it integrates with the MacBook Air. When installed, it’s just about invisible – its flush with the side of the computer, and there aren’t any cables or pieces jutting out waiting get tangled or caught on something.
I recognize I could get the same expandable storage with a traditional SD card (with larger storage capacities at a cheaper prices), but those cards aren’t flush with the computer, and protrude a bit from the site. Personally, the less possibility I have of snagging the storage device on something when hiking, working in the field or pulling my laptop in our out of my bag, the better off I am (you may be less prone to accidents than I am).
The color of the aluminum is spot-on to the computer, and matches perfectly. For the OCD parts of me that are big on clean lines and matching colors, this made me happy.
Functionally, the MicroSD card is also easily inserted and removed from the Ninja Stealth Drive.
I set my system up prior to my back-country excursion… and really just left it in the computer. While I may want or need the kind temporary storage only an external drive can offer for extended trips, this is a great solution for a quick three-day excursion. Once installed, I didn’t have to worry about additional equipment, cables, power supplies, etc. to pack – all I had to do was bring my laptop. When packing all of the other equipment needed for work in the back-country, not having to worry about physically having that extra equipment or the weight it brings with it is a big deal.
The Ninja Stealth Drive is listed for $39.99, but BaseQi was offering a discount to $24.99 with no shipping and handling when I purchased the device.
It’s a little on the high-end as adaptors go, but I feel the overall design is worth it. Other options include USB or SD converters or completely external boxes that plug into the laptop. Again, not having the need for additional equipment or pieces hanging off my laptop make the Ninja Stealth Drive worth the price.
As I noted above, this works perfectly with my MacBook Air. My only complaint is actually with their “tool-less” design. By habit, I keep my finger nails short so I have a little difficulty removing the adapter from the computer. There’s no soft “spring-loaded” push to insert or remove the device; it’s simply a push and pull.
Total investment for the adaptor ($24.99) and MicroSD Card ($30.00) was $54.99.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Not a bad piece of equipment for a well-designed and easy to expand external storage solution. I’ve been happy with the flexibility it provides me in the field, and would recommend it to anyone considering adding this to their toolbox.