SanDisk Connect Wireless Flash Drive 64GB

As more mobile devices come online, there needs to be alternative ways to get data on and off the various tablets, computers and smartphones.  Putting data online in a cloud is one way, however that uses precious mobile data plans.  If you are traveling with several people each with their own device using cellular data plans can get costly.  Several options exist to taking data with you and allowing it to be shared across devices.  SanDisk has recently introduced their SanDisk Connect line.  Currently, there are two models available, the Wireless Media Drive, and Wireless Flash Drive.

sandisk-connect

On the surface, the Wireless Flash Drive looks like a standard large USB Flash Drive.  While it can be used as a standard USB Flash Drive, it has the wireless component to make it unique.  It is available in three sizes, 16GB, 32GB and 64GB; all three sizes are available now.  All three models carry a one year warranty and have the same features (other than the size).    

Each of the three models is capable of wireless sharing or streaming movies, music, documents and pictures to 8 different devices, however streaming is limited to 3 at a time.  These devices can include iOS 5 or higher, Android 2.3 or higher, or virtually any wireless device with a web browser.  SanDisk states that the Wireless Flash Drive can stream for up to 4 hours on a full charge.

SanDisk sent over the 64GB model (SDWS2-064G) for us to take a look at.

 

SanDisk Wireless Flash Drive

SanDisk Connect Features and Specifications:

Connect up to 8 Devices and Stream Video to up to 3 Devices Simultaneously

The SanDisk Connect Wireless Flash Drive can wirelessly connect to as many as 8 devices. It also lets you stream media to up to 3 devices at the same time**Some DRM protected content cannot be streamed. Check with the content provider for playback restrictions. You can listen to your favorite songs while the kids watch two different movies on mom’s iPhone and dad’s iPad.

SanDisk Wireless Flash Drive App

Download the SanDisk Wireless Flash Drive Mobile App**SanDisk App available for download on the App Store, Google Play and Amazon App store for Android. to your devices to help organize all your media files for easy storing, sharing, and streaming.

[youtube width="640" height="480"]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JFb5uvtHCcU[/youtube]

 Before taking a look at how the Wireless Flash Drive works, let's take a quick look at the retail packaging and theFlash drive itself on the next page.

SanDisk Wireless Flash Drive Overview

SanDisk Wireless Flash Drive Box Front

The front of the box is designed to catch potential consumers eyes in a retail setting.  The flash drive is shown, along with a nice graphic portraying the sharing of files from the Wireless Flash Drive.  The amount of storage is clearly presented and the picture of the flash drive is shown at its actual size.

SanDisk Wireless Flash Drive Box Back

As this is a retail oriented packaging, the back of the box goes over all the features that the Wireless Flash Drive offers.  This is great as a potential consumer looking at this in a store, might not be aware of what this flash drive can offer them.

SanDisk Wireless Flash Drive Packaging

Packaging and Accessories for the Wireless Flash Drive is pretty basic.  The flash drive is in a plastic tray that will keep it protected from most damage, and there is a little quick start guide included in the box; on the flash drive itself, is a full user manual.  

SanDisk Wireless Flash Drive Cap

Overall, the SanDisk Wireless Flash Drive is black with a big silver button in the middle.  This button, activates the wireless capabilities, which allows users to connect.  It doesn't use a traditional cover for the USB port, instead it uses a sliding shroud for the connector.  This is great as there is no cap to loose, however it does mean the USB connector can get dust on the contacts pretty easily.  The middle of the flash drive is a textured area, which gives the drive a fancy look.  On one side of the flash drive is a little compartment that stores the Micro SDHC card.  At both ends of the flash drive are two LEDs, there is an Orange LED by the cap that indicates activity, while a Blue LED at the far end indicates WiFi activity.

SanDisk Wireless Flash Drive Micro SDHC

Under that little door is the Micro SDHC card.  SanDisk has pre-installed a 64GB UHS-1 card; instead of the usual red/gold or black Micro SDHC cards, this model is white. 

SanDisk Wireless Flash Drive Back

The back of the drive isn't much to look at, a few certifications, model name, model and serial number; all pretty standard.  On the end is a little place to attach a lanyard to hang the Wireless Flash Drive on a keychain or bag.

Windows and Android Connectivity

Windows

SanDisk Wireless Flash Drive Windows

While the SanDisk Wireless Flash Drive is compatible with the PC, it is meant to be used as a USB device for Windows systems.  When using a Windows 8.1 tablet, I was able to connect to the flash drive, however there wasn't an app to browse the files on the drive.  Instead, opening a web browser and going to www.sandisk.com/wfd/ allowed me to browse the files.  This is a very limited type of access, there was no upload option.  A Windows 8 app would be a nice addition.

Android

SanDisk Android App Main Menu

When starting the application it will automatically search for the SanDisk Wireless Flash Drive, if it finds one, you simply tap the drive you wish to connect and it does the rest.  On the main menu screen, you also have two options to browse local files, either though the download folder or the photo gallery.  This is available so you can upload files to the wireless flash drive; two way communication!  The first time the Android app connected to the SanDisk Wireless Flash Drive it prompted for a Firmware update.

SanDisk Android App Warning Message

The first time you connect to the SanDisk Wireless Flash Drive, a warning pops up alerting you that the internet has been automatically disconnected while connected to the flash drive.  However, within the settings you can give it a preferred wifi network and it will act as a relay for the wifi signal.

SanDisk Android App Folder View

By default the files are able to be browsed in a folder view with folders at top, and files at the bottom.  While SanDisk has done a great job of making folders for the various types of media, you are not restricted to those folders, the software recognizes the file type and will take appropriate action to use the filetype.

SanDisk Android Music

When looking at Photos and Music you will see a thumbnail that is associated with the file.  For music, you will see any cover art tied to the file; when looking at photos a thumbnail of the photo is shown.  For Documents and Video's a generic graphic is shown indicating the file type.  Also, unlike Pictures, Videos and Music, Documents are saved to the smartphone or tablet for viewing, and not streamed.

SanDisk Android Settings

In the settings menu, you can configure the Wireless Flash Drive for your specific settings.  A password to access the files on the flash drive can be set in the Network section, which happens to protect the drive with 128-bit AES, while a preferred WiFi network is configured in the Internet Connection section.  The software automatically configures the download folder to the local device, ignoring any additional storage media.  However, SanDisk has provided a way to change that.    There are a few other options on the Settings menu, however they are pretty self explanatory.

iOS Connectivity

One important change between Android and iOS, is that for iOS, you will need to go into the WiFi settings and manually connect to the SanDisk Wireless Flash Drive.

SanDisk Wireless Flash iOS Main Menu

The main file menu for iOS looks very similar to Android, however on the iPad there is a large grey area to the right of the folder listing.

SanDisk Wireless Flash iOS Photos

That large grey area turns into a preview window for photos, and a video player for videos.

SanDisk Wireless Flash iOS Downloads

You can access your download folder within the SanDisk iOS application, which would allow you to access those files.  Photos and Videos are automatically added to the Camera Roll instead of being placed in the Downloads folder.

SanDisk Wireless Flash iOS Upload

 In the upper right corner is a little icon representing the flash drive, pressing that icon provides a sub-menu to upload files to the SanDisk Wireless Flash Drive.

USB and Micro-SD Benchmarks

SanDisk Wireless Flash Drive

To check the performance of the SanDisk Wireless Flash Drive, we will first test the PC connectivity options.  This includes testing the Micro SDHC card by itself and the Wireless Flash Drive on a USB 3.0 port.  To test the Micro SDHC we will use the Kingston MobileLite G3 USB 3.0 media card reader.

Crystal Disk Mark

CrystalDiskMark 3.0.3 is a good benchmark to gauge how well a drive will perform.  Many of the drive manufacturers have used this benchmark to show off the performance of their drives.  It provides a quick benchmark of Sequential and Random read/writes, and included a NCQ with a queue depth of 32. 

SanDisk MicroSDHC CrystalDiskMark

The SanDisk Micro SDHC card that is included in the Wireless Flash Drive has to specifications to verify how the benchmark is performing.  However, when taking a look at the 64GB Micro SDHC cards on SanDisk's website, the fastest 64GB card is the Extreme PLUS, with a rated 80/50MB/s Read/Write speed.  Obviously this card is performing faster, and is actually closer to the Extreme Pro speeds, which SanDisk shows as only available up to 16GB.

SanDisk Wireless Flash Drive USB CrystalDiskMark

When the drive is connected to a USB 3.0 port, we received the expected USB 2.0 speeds.  The Flash Drive itself is a USB 2.0 device, so these speeds are not unexpected.  They are a little lower than I would have thought.  

ATTO

ATTO is another benchmark that will provide results over any type of drive; hard drives, SSD, USB and RAID arrays.  It allows the user to set various factors such as data transfer size, length  of transfer, queue depth and several other options.   ATTO provides a wide range of results across the various lengths, we will take a closer look at three of these, and see how the data compares for the read and write speed.

SanDisk Wireless Flash Drive Micro SDHC ATTO

ATTO confirms the speed of the Micro SDHC card, receiving almost 95MB/s Read, and 60MB/s Write.  It's a pretty fast Micro SDHC card!

SanDisk Wireless Flash Drive USB ATTO

Once the SDHC card is back in the Wireless Flash Drive and ATTO evaluates it, we again see the limitation of the USB 2.0 connection.

Real World Testing

Wireless File Copy

First we need to add files to the device for streaming.  We'll see how well it does with file copy from a PC over the USB 2.0 connection using Teracopy.

SanDisk Wireless Flash TeraCopy Video

Copying a large 950MB video file took 1Minute 21Seconds to copy from the PC to the SanDisk Wireless Flash Drive, which gave an average of 12MB/s.  This matches the previous synthetic benchmarks.

SanDisk Wireless Flash TeraCopy Photos

Next 1.24GB of photos were copied to the SanDisk Wireless Flash Drive, this time it took 1Minute 53Seconds, an average of 11MB/s.  

Copying files from the SanDisk Wireless Flash to a mobile device a stop watch was used.  The timer was started as soon as the file copy began and stopped when it reached 100% completion.  This was done four times to verify the timings.

File Copy from Samsung Galaxy S3 to SanDisk
600MB Video Files 10Minutes 23Seconds
923MB Photos 13Minutes 29Seconds

These results show that Wireless file copy is much slower than a USB 2.0 connection.  

Wireless Streaming

Watching video's among devices is very simple, up to three devices can stream video at the same time.  A single 1080P video was streamed to an iPad, Samsung Galaxy S3 and a Windows 8 tablet.  There were no issues with the streaming of the same video to multiple devices at the same time.  On the Galaxy S3, it was easy to see how quickly it was buffering the video while it was playing.

Streaming was successful anywhere in my house, which is approximately 1,400 square feet, with walls in the way, I would estimate it reached close to 50 feet.  While this is much shorter than the 150feet SanDisk claims it will reach, I am sure that is in a perfect environment in an open space.  Just like how wireless is calculated at a best case scenario and not in a real world environment.

Battery Life

SanDisk states the Wireless Flash Drive has a 4 hour of video stream time per charge, to one device.  In my testing, I was able to stream two movies before the battery died.  Streaming Iron Man and Avatar (Extended Cut) totaled 304 minutes, or just over 5 hours.

If that is not enough time, the Wireless Flash Drive can be charged using a USB wall charger at the same time as streaming, or in a vehicle using a USB car charger.

Final Thoughts and Conclusions

SanDisk Wireless Flash Drive Cap

The SanDisk Connect Wireless Flash Drive is a solid USB 2.0 storage device that utilizes Micro SD for storage.  As a USB 2.0 device it won't break any speed records; however that is not what it is meant for.  This Wireless Flash Drive is designed for sharing of data on an ad-hoc basis to up to 8 devices, or it can stream video to three devices at the same time.  As more mobile devices are put in use, and you have limited amount of space on most mobile devices finding a way to have your data available but not on the mobile device is going to become very important.

After using the SanDisk Wireless Flash Drive, I find myself amazed at what it can do in such a small package, measuring 2.79 x 0.84 x 0.45 in (LxWxH), it isn't very much larger than other flash drives.  However this flash drive can do so much more than just store files.  It is small enough to fit in a pocket and be unobtrusive when on the go.  Another option would be to attach it to a keychain or to a bag to always have it with you.

An estimated four hour battery life might not seem like a lot, just charge the Wireless Flash Drive when possible and continue to use it.  That four hours is for streaming video to one device, as more devices connect and utilize the drive that four hours  will get shorter.  Thankfully in my testing, I was able to get just over five hours of streaming videos before it ran out of juice.

There are many options when it comes to sharing data, cloud storage, or remotely accessing a home network.  However each of these has a downside, if you happen to be in an area where you are unable to access the internet, or on a long trip.  Streaming a large amount of data to multiple devices can use a monthly allotment of mobile data pretty quickly, the SanDisk Wireless Flash Drive does not need access to the internet to allow sharing the data.  Simply copy data to the SDHC card before leaving and it is available anytime.  Also, the SDHC card can be swapped out with others while on the go, so you never really fill the Wireless Flash Drive with data.

The SanDisk Wireless Flash Drive is currently available for purchase from many establishments and comes with a 1 year warranty.  There is one model of the Wireless Flash Drive available, however it comes in three different sizes:

The SanDisk Wireless Flash Drive will work with virtually any operating system that uses a web browser, however iOS and Android users get an app to access the Wireless Flash Drive, and set the configuration option.  Within the configuration options, not only can the drive be used as a wireless repeater, a 128-bit AES password can be enabled to keep the data secured.

This is a great device, as it stands it is hard to find anything to criticize about it.  It does its job rather well, and makes it easy to share files.  In a future version, I'd like to see the USB connection upgraded to SuperSpeed USB 3.0 as it would make it much easier to load files from a PC to the flash drive.  As it is, it would take several hours to fill the SD card over USB 2.0 speeds, switch to a SuperSpeed USB 3.0 SDHC card reader and that time will be much shorter.

 

Legit Bottom Line:  For the price, the SanDisk Wireless Flash Drive is a great option to share data among multiple mobile devices and allow backing up of data off those mobile devices without being attached to a computer.