I love my 32GB iPhone 5s(s aapl), but it’s barely a month old and I’ve already used more than half of the storage capacity. When my previous iPhone was at the end of its lifespan, for every new album I wanted to listen to, it meant I’d have to delete an old album to make way. Streaming is great, but Netflix(s nflx) and Spotify aren’t always available, and they don’t always have what I want to watch or listen to. What I want is unlimited physical storage, but for any phone without a microSD card slot, what you see is what you get.
That’s why I’ve really liked using the SanDisk(s sndk) Connect Wireless Flash Drive. It looks like pretty much any other 32GB flash drive, but a bit bulkier. Unlike other flash drives, however, you can connect your iOS or Android(s goog) device to it wirelessly, letting you access an additional 32GB of music, videos, photos or documents. And it’s really simple to use.
The SanDisk Connect works just like a typical flash drive. Plug it into your computer, load up some files, and you’re ready to go — you can connect it to any other computer and use it just like. But SanDisk also makes a Wireless Flash Drive app you can download to use the drive with your phone or tablet. Once you’ve downloaded the app, simply press the lone button on the drive that looks like a Wi-Fi signal to turn it on, then connect to it as you would with any other Wi-Fi connection (it will show automatically show up in your available networks once you turn it on – the drive uses 801.11 b/g/n).
Once connected, all you have to do is fire up the app in order to access whatever you’ve saved to the drive. You can save the files directly to your phone, or you can play them straight from the drive itself. (Keep in mind it needs to be a file format your phone is capable of playing.)
I had no trouble playing music or videos, or viewing photos or PDFs on my iPhone 5s or a Moto X. Better yet, the wireless drive can connect to up to 8 devices at once, and stream video on up to 3 devices simultaneously, so you can share the content you’re carrying with more than one phone or tablet at a time.
The drive has a range of up to 150 feet, and supports up to 4 hours of streaming on one charge. To recharge the drive, just plug it back into your computer. There’s also a microSD card slot at the bottom of the drive, so theoretically, you can load up as many cards as you’d like for potentially infinite storage.
That said, the Wireless Flash Drive isn’t perfect. In fact, it has one pretty major flaw. When you connect to the drive via your phone’s Wi-Fi connection, your phone doesn’t use its cellular data connection. You can configure a pass-through connection to connect the drive back to your Wi-Fi network, but there’s no way to connect to both the drive and your cellular network at the same time. This means that whenever you use the drive and you aren’t connected to Wi-Fi (which happens a lot when you’re traveling), you can’t access the internet. This is fine when you’re listening to music on a long flight (or even when I’m riding the subway in New York where I can’t get service anyway), but everywhere else it gets pretty frustrating.
For $59.99 though, the 32GB SanDisk Connect Wireless Flash Drive is often cheaper than buying a phone with more internal storage. And for your next long trip, when you just can’t decide what you’ll want to watch or listen to and when, it just might be worth it.
This post was updated at 7:46am to show that the Wireless Flash Drive can use a pass-through connection for Wi-Fi.