- A bit expensive
- Alternative methods are plentiful
Review Price £99.99
The Cloud looms above us all, threatening to rain down a tech torrent onto our hard drives and memory sticks, frying their circuits into obsolescence. Thankfully, we're not quite there yet but the iTwin marks a step in that direction. It's a twin pack of USB sticks that lock into each other, and can transfer files between each other over the web - from thousands of miles apart.
Stuck together, the iTwin twins look like a double-ended USB flash memory stick. However, there's no real storage available in either. Instead, this natty gadget creates a sort of wormhole through the internet, joining together the two computers that the halves of the iTwin are plugged into.
It doesn't all happen by magic, mind. To start with, the two ends of the iTwin have to be plugged together, and into a computer. The driver software, included on the stick itself, will install and the two ends will be linked together as a pair. You then need to leave that USB stick plugged-in, and the host computer switched on, before plugging the other end into another internet-connected computer.
Do so and, voila, the software will install in a minute on the second computer and the estranged identical twins will start talking over the web. However, you aren't given full and unrestricted access to the first computer's hard drive.
Instead iTwin creates its own "virtual storage" drive that appears as a network drive in Windows's My Computer area. Either computer can then fill this space with any kind of files and folders - it's much like using a USB stick, except that there's no actual storage here in the traditional sense. The data isn't uploaded to some mystical cloud server either. Getting your head around how iTwin really works takes some thought. Adding a file to the stick's storage is more like clearing it for sharing with its buddy rather than involving any direct file transfer.
When online transfer of files is very simple with a high-speed broadband connection, iTwin relies on the dual selling points of security and that "it just works" factor, in justifying its £100 price tag. For the most part these two arguments are sound too. We did have a little trouble installing the software on one computer during testing, but this seemed to be due to an earlier mid-install abort and was soon sorted.
The iTwin's metal-covered body is strong and very light - not too surprising considering there can't be all that much to fit in, component-wise. The only durability concern is that the connection between the twins is exposed. However, it's more likely to become a problem by being caked with dirt, dust or generic gunk rather than the victim of physical damage. Lights on the side of the iTwin tell you if there's something awry (a red light, naturally), and if it's currently working away - with a blue light.