When I first saw the Meenova on Kickstarter, the project was still generically called “Mini MicroSD Reader” but it had already obliterated its funding goal, and for good reason. This small unit was designed to be plugged into the MicroUSB port of any Android device with USB On-The-Go support, to allow it to read MicroSD cards. It’s an easy and minimal solution for devices with limited storage and no MicroSD slot.
To say that I had been previously reticent about paying cash for products that weren’t manufactured yet, let alone reviewed, is an understatement. But Meenova was the turning point in my crowdfunding journey, simply because it was too awesome not to pledge for, and too cheap at $12. After all, if the project failed, I wasn’t losing a fortune.
But thankfully, the project did not fail and my Meenova made its way onto my hands last week. Does it stand up to the hype and expectations, and should you preorder yours? Read on to find out.
In the Box
Thanks to a few stretch goals, the Meenova was delivered with several useful accessories. In the small box, the main unit is joined by a keyring hook as well as a full USB adapter, essentially transforming the Meenova from a MicroUSB card reader to a USB card reader for computers and a make-do USB stick, all in one.
Andy and Rich, the guys behind the Meenova, had to go through several prototypes and moulds to find the perfect fit, and it shows. The Meenova is solidly built, the device’s cap snaps on and off with a very satisfying click, and the MicroSD card fits perfectly in. My one gripe is with the silver finish, which looks slightly cheap and is grainy and uneven on the cap on my unit — while still being smooth on the rest of the reader.
The MicroUSB plug sticks out a little by design, first to allow the Meenova to fit well, even if you have a case on your device, and second to integrate a blue light that notifies you when the unit is being used to read data off the MicroSD card.
The MicroUSB to USB adapter and the keyring are generic units, with nothing particular to write about.
Putting it to the Test
Meenova’s website offers a list of supported devices, but the general rule is this: if your phone or tablet has USB OTG, it should be able to read the card through the Meenova, whether directly (most Samsung, HTC, Sony and LG devices) or through third-party software and rooting (some Nexus devices).
On my Samsung Galaxy S3 and LG G2, using the Meenova couldn’t be simpler. I inserted a MicroSD card into the unit, took the cap off, and plugged it into the MicroUSB port of the phones. The card appeared as additional storage in the Settings, and was accessible from any file manager. Copying files back and forth as well as reading movies and music and opening documents directly from the card was flawless.
The story is a little bit different on my Nexus 7. The device supports USB OTG from a hardware perspective, but the vanilla Android software doesn’t deal with it well. I had to use Nexus Media Importer (or other similar apps) to read and transfer some of my data. It’s an inelegant solution but it works fine if the alternative is unthinkable for you — that would be rooting your device and maybe even installing a custom ROM that supports OTG storage access.
Prior to discovering the Meenova, I was debating several options for my storage problem. I had a Galaxy S3, but I knew that most manufacturers, and especially Google’s own Nexus line, were abandoning the built-in MicroSD card slot. So what am I to do if I got a slot-less device, given that I like carrying movies, music, podcasts, and TV show episodes with me?
My first solution was the inelegant USB stick + USB OTG cable. The second was a 2-in-1 USB and MicroUSB stick — like these. The Meenova is essentially both solutions combined in a more compact and versatile manner:
- It is a lot smaller if you want to keep it plugged in your phone or tablet for a while.
- The storage can be upgraded depending on the card capacity you use.
- It is also a MicroSD reader for your computer and phone, for those instances when you need either.
All in all, you can use the Meenova to:
- transfer data between your computer and Android device,
- read and copy files from a MicroSD card (friend’s phone, camera, etc…) on your device,
- carry additional files with you, without having them constantly stored on your phone or tablet,
- read a MicroSD card on a computer, and transfer data between computers.
It’s really difficult to fault the Meenova at anything. If I had to be picky about it, it would be the slightly grainy finish, and the generic black USB adapter that is simply too massive by comparison. The other issue, mainly the simplicity or complexity of accessing it on different devices, is Android’s fault and you can’t blame Meenova if your phone or tablet isn’t supported or if it requires root.
Despite its tiny size — or mostly thanks to it — the Meenova is likely to come in handy on several occasions if your Android device doesn’t have a built-in MicroSD slot. It is also great to have lying around for those “just-in-case” occasions. And at $12 full retail price with $3 for international delivery, you really can’t go wrong with it.