By Evan Ackerman
Infinitec is introducing what they’re calling the “next generation” of USB flash drives, the Infinite USB Memory (IUM) drive. Rather than storing data on internal flash memory, the IUM pairs with your computer, forming a wireless data transfer link. So, whatever device you plug the IUM into sees it as simple USB flash drive, while behind the scenes the IUM is streaming data directly from your computer, making available as much data as you care to give it, hence the “infinite” moniker. This isn’t some kind of infinite cloud storage thing, however, it’s just that the capacity of the IUM isn’t limited by the hardware on the IUM itself.
I can’t immediately figure out how the wireless bit works, but it’s going to be one of two ways. The first, which seems most likely from the way the IUM is described, is that it uses your laptop’s wireless card to transfer data. This means that if you’re out of range of your laptop’s wireless signal, your IUM loses its functionality. The alternative (and I don’t think it works this way) would be that it somehow connects to your laptop over the internet, which means that the IUM would function anywhere it could get WiFi access, possibly allowing you to set up secured access points ahead of time.
Whichever way it functions, I wouldn’t really think of this as a USB flash drive at all, for the simple reason that you can’t use it to back up or transfer data independently of your laptop. It’s more of a wireless USB network adapter, in that it gives any USB compatible device access to the data on your laptop via a local (ad-hoc) wireless network. This is definitely a handy capability, although its usefulness is limited to electronics with USB ports but without a network connection that you don’t want to plug your computer into directly (although there is something to be said for ease of use, which the IUM certainly appears to offer).
The cost for this convenience is $129, which seems rather steep to me, although (for what it’s worth) it’s generally equivalent to the Eye-Fi Pro, which offers the same kind of wireless ad-hoc network functionality.
The Infinitec IUM Drive goes on sale July 1.