When we hit up Las Vegas for the International CES 2012 earlier this month, we were very lucky to have had the opportunity to meet with a company called iTwin. Their latest device won not only a 2012 CES Award for Innovation, but the heart of this blogger as well.
iTwin sparked quite an interested at CES this year, but their product isn’t really a “drive.” So, what is it exactly, and what makes it so special? Well, iTwin offers secure, truly-limitless file sharing for less than $100.
That’s right: iTwin allows two (or more) users to share files between each other – limitlessly. But how does it work? It’s quite clever, actually.
One user starts with both “halves” of the iTwin device plugged together, end-to-end. The iTwin halves give each other a brief handshake. You keep one, and the other is ready to be shipped off to the second user, anywhere in the world.
But the magic of iTwin comes from the way files are shared. In fact, iTwin calls their device “two ends of a cable, without the cable.”
There’s no actual flash memory on the device. Instead, each half acts as a data access device. When both halves of iTwin are plugged into their respective PCs, the users can specify which files on the computers are available for sharing. In this way, users can effectively share their entire hard drives, including external drives.
Unlike a traditional USB drive with flash storage, iTwin is instant, has unlimited “storage,” deletes all temporary files upon unplugging and is plug’n'play across platforms. And unlike file sharing services, there’s no monthly subscription fee.
One major downside to iTwin is the fact that it does require an internet connection to use. If either parties’ network goes down, the files will be inaccessible remotely. The PR folks at iTwin’s booth, however, assured us that files transfer fast enough to work on slow connections.
Another downside is the fact that all files must go through iTwin’s official servers. The company explained that all files are uniquely encrypted, making data virtually unreadable by them. But I could definitely see a major scandal erupting if their servers are ever hacked or compromised in some way. (Two iTwin devices on the same network will use the network rather than iTwin’s servers.)
As for security? What happens if one half of your iTwin gets lost (and found)? Users can set up an email address to remote disable the device, meaning all your files will be safe, even if you never find your other half.
The latest software update allows more than one iTwin half to be paired up, meaning one user can share files with any number of people (assuming they all have an iTwin “half”), making it a great potential collaboration tool for journalists, businesspeople or anyone wanting to share files to multiple people.
iTwin’s versatility, affordability and – let’s face it – innovation made it one of our favorite gadgets at CES this year.
iTwin is available now from a number of online retailers, including Amazon and Best Buy. More information at iTwin’s official site. And look forward to a (hopeful!) full review on iTwin in the near future!