Western Digital has increased the capacity of its line of iOS mobile flash drives with the introduction of the 256GB SanDisk Connect Wireless Stick, a plastic USB flash drive that measures 3.08 x 0.82 x 0.48 inches and weighs 0.8 ounces. It’s a nice accessory for iPhones and iPads, though it has drawbacks.
The Wireless Stick allows iOS device users to store and stream more content. It works in conjunction with the SanDisk Connect app — a free download at the Apple App Store — that enables management of content between iPhones, iPads, iPod touches, Macs and PCs viapassword-protected Wi-Fi connectivity. The app can stream music, videos or HD movies to three devices at a time. SanDisk Connect also supports streaming on large displays using AirPlay and an Apple TV.
This is very convenient. However, connecting wirelessly to a computer is still less convenient than plugging it in. And with USB 2.0-only connectivity (no Lightning, USB-C or even USB 3.0 models are available), transfer speeds are a bit lethargic. The 9.82 MBps write and 15.6 MBps read speeds on my drag-and-drop file transfer tests didn’t wow me.
On the iOS version of the SanDisk Connect app, you can access the Internet over your iPhone's 3G or 4G connection even when you're wirelessly connected to the Connect Wireless Stick's ad-hoc Wi-Fi network. Mac users must connect their computer to the drive's wireless network, then go here from a web browser. However, once the Wireless Stick is connected, you can move files on or off your device’s drives and stream content.
A nice touch: you can set up the drive to back up an iPhone or iPad's camera roll with an in-app menu option. Do so, and the Wireless Stick automatically saves new photos every time a device connects. The wireless connection may be sluggish, but can reach up to 150 feet in ideal conditions (meaning the signal doesn’t have to pass through walls or ceilings, which doesn’t happen often in “real life.”)
Asingle LED on the center of the front panel of the Wireless Stick lets you know whether the drive is on, transferring wireless data, charging, low on battery, or updating firmware. The power button is a slim bar on the right side of the device. The drive comes with a clear cap, which can’t be stored anywhere on the stick while it's plugged into a computer, though it can (and should) be kept on the device if you're connecting remotely.
The SanDisk's battery life is rated for 4 hours and 30 minutes of continuous video streaming, and takes about two hours to fully charge when you plug it into a powered USB port. This means, as mentioned, you’ll have to use with a computer or charger with USB 2.0/3.0 ports.
Despite its flaws, the SanDisk Connect Wireless Stick USB flash drive offers a simple way to transfer or stream files to and from your phone or computer — at a price. It’s available at Amazon, Best Buy.com, bhphotovideo.com and retailers, with a manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $279.99.
Apple World Today Rating (out of 5 stars): ★★★★