NextDrive Cube works to build a smarter home for you.
I’ve been working to make my home ‘smarter’ over the past few years. I have connected devices throughout my home (including outdoors) and I love having parts of my home be automated. One piece of this smart home puzzle that has been alluding me a bit is a personal cloud device. I’ve had a couple of different options available, but nothing that was really convenient — until I met the NextDrive Cube.
The NextDrive Cube is a small device that plugs directly into the wall (or other power outlet source) and allows you to connect to USB devices seamlessly whether you are on the same network or not. The main function of the Cube is to provide you with a personal cloud and photo backup for your mobile device. The device is the world’s smallest IoT Gateway. It’s compatible with USB devices such as hard drives, flash drives, and webcams. The interface is 100% app-driven so you have to have a smartphone (iOS 8.1/Android 4.0 or higher) in order to manage the device.
The Cube has modern specs for a smart device:
- USB 2.0
- Bluetooth 4.0
- WiFi 802.11 b/g/n
- AC Input (100V – 240V 50/60Hz)
- USB Output 5V
- Weight 60g
When the Cube arrived, I was excited to try it out, but I have to admit that I was a little confused about its purpose at first. The box reads “The Smartest Cube…For connected home & personal cloud” and the website presents it as “the Smarter Home Hub,” which led me to believe that the Cube would be able to control other smart devices in my home. The truth is that the Cube is a hub for other NextDrive devices. NextDrive started out in 2014 with a team of software developers and hardware engineers with the purpose of improving how technology works for all of us — people, businesses, and industries. Their first product was called the Plug, which turns any USB device into a wireless object. The Cube was launched in 2016 and NextDrive has three other smart products in their lineup — Motion Pixi, Thermo Pixi, and Cam S. All of these products were designed to work together to create a smart, safe home for you.
The Cube acts as a hub for all the NextDrive devices so that you can continuously monitor things going on in your home. Without the other NextDrive devices though, the Cube is essentially just a secured personal cloud device. The really unique thing about the way it’s designed is that you can plug and hard drive or flash drive into it. You aren’t limited by something that is already setup. If you fill up a flash drive, you can simply swap it out for a different drive. It’s really nice to have that kind of flexibility.
The NextDrive Cube comes in a simple, branded package that provides accurate protection for the Cube. The first thing you come across in the box is a quick start guide of sorts. The guide includes a default setup for the app that controls the Cube and a few FAQs. Beneath that lies the Cube itself. It is nestled inside another cardboard insert to hold it in place. Once you pull the Cube out of the box, you will also find a 16GB SanDisk flash drive and a complete user guide. The Cube is a self-contained unit in that it has a built-in power plug and you can simply plug it into a wall outlet.
Once the Cube is plugged in, it will go through a quick startup process and once the blue LED indicator light is done flashing, you can continue with the rest of the setup though the app. This was honestly one of the easiest setups I’ve ever done with a connected device. When I selected to add a Cube to the app, the app took just a few seconds to initialize and then it asked me to set a password for it. After a device password is set, you will be asked to join your WiFi network. You will have to enter your WiFi password, too, but again, the device connection only takes about 60 seconds to finish. You will likely have a firmware update for the device, which can take a few minutes, but you simply tell it to update and then leave it to complete on its own.
The app has a really nice, clean interface and it’s very user-friendly, but it’s a little confusing at first. There are no directions on-screen to let you know that you need to plug something into the Cube in order for you to actually use the device. Once I plugged the provided flash drive into the Cube, it appeared as an HDD on the app and I was able to start transferring photos and documents over to it. Photo backup from a mobile device is very easy, but you do have to make sure that the app remains the ‘focus’ of the phone. This means you can’t navigate away from it or let your phone go to sleep while you are transferring. This can be a little cumbersome the first time you backup your library. For me, it was over 2,600 photos and videos. I had to leave my phone unlocked all night long for the transfer to complete. I have been really impressed with the speed at which I am able to connect to the Cube remotely. As long as the Cube stays connected to power and my home WiFi, I can connect to it outside of my home network and access anything that is on the connected drive.
Aside from my initial misunderstanding of the functions of the device, the NextDrive Cube has really been a great product to work with. It’s a really nice option for a flexible, secure personal cloud.
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