Many modern portable devices come with slots for SD or microSD cards, to provide additional storage. Some, however, do not. If those devices also have limited internal storage, as often happens in lower priced models, the user has to keep an eagle eye on the number of apps and files that are installed, to keep from running out of space. Without SD capability, is there a way to easily add extra storage space to such a device? As it turns out, the answer is yes, if the device supports OTG or "on the go" technology. The Inateck HB3001g Hub and Card Reader allows you to easily connect extra storage to a device that has no SD slot. Does this sound appealing to you? If so, read on.
What Is OTG?
OTG or "on the go" technology has been around since 2001 and it's reasonable to assume that most modern portable devices support it. There's a very technical explanation in this Wikipedia article, but basically what it means is that you can connect a flash drive or data card to an OTG capable device with an OTG capable adapter and use the storage in the same way you would use it if you plugged the storage directly into the device. If you are not certain whether your device is OTG capable, just do a search with the device name and OTG.
NOTE: For the purposes of this article, we tested the Inateck HB3001g USB Hub and Card Reader with a Motorola Moto X phone, a Nexus 5 phone, and an HTC One phone and all worked perfectly.
Unboxing The Inateck 3 OTG Hub
The HB3001g Hub with Card Reader arrives in a resealable plastic bag that contains the hub and its attached microUSB cable, plus a power cord that has a standard USB connector on one end and a mini plug on the other.
It appears to be well designed and well made. Its dimensions are 65mm x 60mm x 10mm (2.56 x 2.36 x 0.4 inches) with an attractive matte black surface that won't show fingerprints. The slots for various devices are arranged around the edges and identified clearly on the top surface next to the slot.
The designers have cleverly saved space by stacking some slots one above the other. The MS and M2 slots and the SD and MicroSD slots are done this way.
On the back of the bag is a sticker with a diagram of the hub and the types of devices that can connect to it, plus a brief written explanation. On the USA model we received, the information appears to have been translated into English by someone not quite fluent, but it's easy enough to figure out what it means. Although the black banner at the top only mentions Samsung products and Windows 8.1 tablets, the description below assured us that it was suitable for all OTG compatible devices.
Inateck is a German company that offers a wide range of accessories for portable devices, available both in Europe and in the USA. The HB3001g Hub with Card Reader is designed specifically for phones and tablets that use a microUSB connector. It's a small, lightweight device that won't take up too much room in a bag or backpack. Inateck's web page for this device is here, and it allows you to see technical specifications and closeup photos of the device.
Using The Inateck OTG HUB
Using the hub is a simple matter of attaching it to your portable device with the mini USB plug, and then plugging in your storage devices of choice, just as you would if you had slots for them on your phone or tablet. They will be seen as separate directories on the portable device. A red LED lights up to tell you that the hub is connected and working. The manufacturer's documentation implies that you can attach a device to every single compatible slot on the hub and still have everything work properly. We did not have enough peripheral devices on hand to test this out, but it did work fine with two USB flash drives and a standard SD card.
Here is a view from a file manager on the Moto X phone (Android) with an SD card and one USB flash drive attached to the hub.
What if your devices require a powered hub, or you've attached so many devices that you've overtaxed the capabilities of your portable device's battery? That's what that USB power cord is for. Attach the USB end of it to any standard USB port or USB charger (the device does not come with its own power supply) and plug the mini plug into the hub. Here we've attached it to the charger for the Moto X phone.
Where To Buy
Unfortunately, the cord is only 53cm (about 21 in) long, so if you want power you'll have to put your device and the hub fairly close to an outlet. Keep in mind that the power for the hub is drawn from your portable device, so if you choose not to attach a power source you may drain your battery faster than usual.
The Inateck HB3001g Hub and Card Reader is well designed and well made. It's small enough to slip easily into a pocket or a computer bag, and it allows you to connect a wide variety of storage cards and USB drives to your portable device. The included power cord allows you to use the hub to its maximum capacity, although the device becomes considerably less portable if it has to be tethered to an outlet or a USB port. That's a minor quibble that shouldn't stop you from buying the hub. We didn't have a compatible tablet to try it out on, but all the Android phones we used recognized the device immediately and allowed us to view files with no trouble. If your device does not come with a file manager, there are quite a few highly rated ones in the Google app store--we recommend checking them out and choosing one that is not ad supported so you don't go nuts looking at a stupid flashing banner while you deal with your files. Easy to look at and easy to use, what more could you ask?