Review: Leef Access microSD Card Reader For Android

Does what it says on the tin, thanks to USB OTG

One of the benefits of Android as a mobile device OS is the support for microSD cards, which offers a convenient way to transport heavier files around. But unfortunately, not all of the smartphones and tablets on the market use this capability (looking at you, HTC One).

Today, we’re taking a look at Leef Access, a tiny gadget that enables any recent mobile device to read and write to microSD cards, making mobile storage go further.

Card tricks

Access is the brainchild of a Russian start-up that made it all the way to California. Leef specialises in fast flash memory and unusual-looking drives, but some of its latest products are actually expanding the capabilities of mobile hardware.

To do that, it has taken advantage of another feature that’s present in the majority of recent Android devices – support for USB On-The-Go (OTG). This specification allows USB devices to act as a host, so other USB devices to be connected to them.

_MG_7044This means there are no drivers and no apps to install – the only prerequisites are Android 4.1 Jellybean and support for USB OTG. You simply plug the reader into the charger socket – as long as it’s Micro USB – and presto! You now have access to massive amounts of external storage.

Access is waterproof, and by extension dustproof. It includes an additional card slot that allows the owner to carry a second card alongside the first. When the reader is busy, it blinks with a bright white LED light.

A word about video playback: the transfer speeds make it possible to watch full HD content straight from the card, without having to copy it. All this, available for £12.99 from Amazon.

Sure, in the age of the cloud using plastic-coated silicon cards for file transfer and storage might seem like a step backwards, but it enables instant backup and does help with really large files. Access would be especially useful while traveling or where wireless Internet coverage is patchy, and will appeal to people who distrust cloud services in general.

The existence of this device is possible thanks to the open nature of Google’s Android, which stands in contrast with the ‘walled garden’ tended by its rival from Cupertino. It’s worth noting that due to this open nature, Android is targeted by 98 percent of all mobile malware. You win some, you lose some.

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