Imation Link Power Drive 16GB Review


The Imation Link Power Drive brings together additional storage and battery recharging for your iOS devices, but doesn’t really excel at either.

How can you tell somebody’s an iPhone user?

Because they’re probably swearing at their iPhone right now because the battery’s gone flat.

Sure, that’s not a great joke per se, but it’s an observation that’s all too common in the iOS world. There’s any number of straight up battery packs you can buy, along with battery cases such as the Mophie Juice Pack Plus For iPhone 6

With a 3,000mAh battery resting in its innards, the Imation Link Power Drive joins the very wide array of battery packs for iOS devices that are on the market right now. The Imation Link Power Drive’s claim to fame is that it combines battery charging with inbuilt storage; your choice of 16/32/64GB, depending on how much you’re willing to spend.

Did Imation take a battery and add storage, or a storage device and add power to it?
Did Imation take a battery and add storage, or a storage device and add power to it?

The 73x64x22mm Link Power Drive has only two buttons. The top button is used solely to show the current battery indicator status via four lights, while a switch on the rear switches the battery on or off as required. Very short length Lightning and USB cables wrap around the body of the Link Power Drive. They’re something of a double edged sword, because while it’s handy to always have the right cables directly to hand, the way they’re implemented means that they’re suitable only for charging iOS devices, so if your friends have Android, Windows Phone or Blackberry devices, you won’t be able to help them out as you can with so many other external battery packs. Equally, if the cables or connectors break down the track, you’re left holding a small lithium ion brick.

Weirdly, while it carries official "Made For iPhone" branding, it also kicked up a stink on a connected iPhone when first connected.
Weirdly, while it carries official “Made For iPhone” branding, it also kicked up a stink on a connected iPhone when first connected.

One neat part of the Link Power Drive’s construction is the inclusion of a slide out tray that allows you to rest an iPhone on the front of the drive, making it an impromptu stand. It’s not a killer feature, but it’s nice enough to have if you’re going to use it predominantly to recharge your iPhone.

The other part of the Link Power Drive’s proposition is its inbuilt storage. I tested with the 16GB version, but higher capacities are available if you’re more flush with cash. Like most external iOS storage drives, the Imation Link Power Drive relies on an app to manage the inbuilt storage. Imation’s Link Power Drive app covers the basics of streaming video, music, photos or documents, but basic is, unfortunately, the most appropriate term here.

The music player is rudimentary, and there’s no option to stream music files out to external players from the Link Power Drive’s internal storage. Back out of music playback to look at other areas of the drive, and playback automatically stops, which means you can’t line up musical slideshows of your photos. You can send other documents, such as epub reader files to the appropriate applications on your iPhone, but compared to some competing storage-only solutions, the Imation Link Power Drive app could use some serious polish.

The inbuilt stand is a cute addition.
The inbuilt stand is a cute addition.

Finally there’s the issue of pricing. The 16GB model I’ve tested with has an Australian RRP of $129.95. The 32GB version costs $149.95 and the 64GB variant will sell for $189.95. There’s not too much of a whiff of the Australia tax there, with the equivalent US model costing $US99.95, but the problem is that the combined unit is really rather expensive as it is.

If you just want a battery pack with around 3,000mAh of power, it’s very easy to get any number of battery packs with more flexibility to charge devices other than iOS alternatives. On the storage side, the closest comaparable drive would probably be Sandisk’s Connect drives, which run to around $119 for a 32GB drive. You don’t directly get power with those, but again they’re significantly more flexible when it comes to their support for multiple devices and apps. Spend just a little more and you could play around with up to 1TB of storage with wireless drives from either Seagate or Western Digital.

That leaves the Imation Link Power Drive in its own interesting niche. It’s certainly serviceable for what it does, but it’s not quite best in class in either of its service aspects when you consider the asking price, and that makes it hard to recommend.

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