SanDisk's Connect Wireless Flash Drive is a USB memory stick with a difference: it has built-in WiFi capability and can serve up files wirelessly for up to eight different devices at a time, such as Android and Apple smartphones and tablets.
The device (pictured below) is actually more of a pocket-sized wireless server that uses micro SD flash cards as its storage medium. But it is pretty much the same size and shape as a USB memory stick, and plugs into a computer USB port or USB power adapter from a phone to charge up its internal battery.
When connected to a computer's USB port, the SanDisk drive acts just like a memory stick, allowing you to read and write files in the time-honoured fashion. When used wirelessly, however, the device can be accessed via a browser or by using an app, with SanDisk providing app support for Android devices and Apple's iPhone and iPad.
The battery inside the Connect Wireless Flash Drive is a lithium polymer type of unspecified capacity, but SanDisk claims it will give up to four hours of continuous access. The unit can alternatively be powered by a USB mains adapter if it is turned on before being plugged in.
When charging, an amber LED on the device lights up, turning off again when the battery is full. Once unplugged, the Connect Wireless Flash Drive is powered up by holding down the silver button half way along its length until the amber and a blue LED both flash three times. Afterwards, the blue LED indicates the WiFi is active.
We tested out the Connect Wireless Flash Drive by downloading SanDisk's Wireless Flash Drive app from Google Play onto an Android smartphone, although the app should work exactly the same on tablet devices.
The app automatically turns on your device's WiFi if it is not already on, and scans for nearby SanDisk devices. This can take a few seconds, after which you tap on the device name to connect to it. The Connect Wireless Flash Drive itself has a wireless range of up to 160 feet (50m), according to SanDisk.
Once connected, the app displays a list of available files on the Connect Wireless Flash Drive, or more accurately on the micro SD card it contains. This came already formatted on our test device, with folders for Documents, Music, Photos and Videos.
We were able to access files that we had previously dragged and dropped onto the device using a Windows PC, including video files and documents. However, there is a short delay as the app has to copy any file across before it can be opened, which contrasts with storage directly connected to your phone or tablet.
The app lets you rename the Connect Wireless Flash Drive and add a password for access control. However, it also prevents you from using the device's own WiFi to access the internet while connected to the Flash Drive, unless you set this option explicitly in the app.
One neat touch with the Connect Wireless Flash Drive is that the plastic collar that slides back to expose the USB connector also doubles as a kind of stand, enabling you to position it upright on a desktop or other surface. This makes it easier to see the blue status LED, and also possibly makes it more prominent than if it were lying flat on the table, so you will be less likely to accidentally leave it behind.
Overall, we found the Connect Wireless Flash Drive fairly simple to use, although we are not sure exactly who the device is aimed at, since it would be equally easy to share content with friends or colleagues by uploading it to a cloud storage service such as Dropbox. However, the device does not require an internet connection to operate, of course, as you link directly to it via a peer-to-peer WiFi connection.
The Connect Wireless Flash Drive ships with either a 16GB or 32GB flash card already fitted in the device's micro SD slot, with the 32GB version listed on Amazon.co.uk for £49.90.
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