The 32GB SanDisk Connect Wireless Stick ($39.99 as tested) is a USB flash drive with built-in Wi-Fi capability that serves as an affordable way to wirelessly transfer and stream large files to and from your mobile device. While its transfer speeds are nothing to write home about, and it only offers a moderate amount of storage at this price, this drive has an easy-to-use mobile app that allows you to move and access files from multiple devices from a distance. Furthermore, it has enough battery life to keep you going throughout the day. If you’re looking for a simpler, faster, wired-only flash drive that comes at a slightly better value, the Editors’ Choice Kingston DataTraveler microDuo 3.0 (64GB)is the way to go. If wireless functionality is an appealing feature for you, the Connect Wireless Stick a great, simple, and affordable option.
Design and Features
The Connect Wireless Stick is an all-black, plastic USB flash drive that measures 3.08 by 0.82 by 0.48 inches (HWD) and weighs 0.8 ounces. The overall design looks sharp, and the textured, geometric pattern on the front panel gives it a modern look. There’s a single LED on the center of the front panel that lets you know—using colors and patterns—whether the drive is on, transferring wireless data, charging, low on battery, or updating firmware. The Power button is a small, slim bar that located on the right side of the device. The drive comes with a clear cap, which cannot be stored anywhere on the stick while it’s plugged into a computer, though it can be kept on the device if you’re connecting remotely.
The USB flash drive’s main draw is its wireless connectivity, which allows you to access, stream, and transfer your files over 802.11n Wi-Fi using to up to three mobile devices at once. You can also connect wirelessly to a computer, but plugging it into a computer’s USB port is still an easier method for doing so. Otherwise you need to connect to the flash drive’s internal wireless network on your computer and go to a special Web address on your browser, which is a bit more tedious (and slower) than plugging in the drive.
Using the Connect Wireless Stick with your phone is where the drive really shines. This requires you to download the SanDisk Connect Drive app, which takes a few minutes to set up, but the process is simple. When the app is ready, you can connect to the drive on your phone as you would any Wi-Fi network. If you for some reason can’t (or don’t want to) download the app, you can still connect it to your phone or tablet using the same browser method you would for connecting to Wi-Fi on a computer.
Once it’s connected, you can move files on or off the drive and stream content from it with little to no delay. As with the software on the SanDisk Connect Wireless Flash Drive, the app’s strength is that it’s easy to use and a bit more versatile than expected. It displays how much storage is remaining on the drive, as well as what mobile devices are connected, with appealing visuals. It’s also neatly organized, making navigating files and folders straightforward.
You can set up the drive to back up your phone’s camera roll with an in-app menu option, so that it automatically saves new photos every time a device connects. The wireless connection can reach up to 150 feet in direct line of sight, but the range is a bit shorter if the signal has to pass through walls or ceilings. The drive stayed connected to my phone from several rooms away in testing, and I was still able to move files and stream music quickly.
Pricing and Performance
The review unit I tested has 32GB of storage, which puts its cost per gigabyte at $1.25. There are also 16GB ($24.99), 64GB ($59.99), and 128GB ($99.99) versions available. As is usually the case with storage, it’s cheaper per gigabyte if you buy in bulk—it’ll cost you $1.56 per gigabyte for the 16GB model, $0.93 per gigabyte for 64GB, and $0.78 per gigabyte for 128GB. The 32GB Kingston DataTraveler microDuo 3.0 (we reviewed the 64GB version) is a slightly better value than the Connect Wireless Stick at $0.81 per gigabyte. The Lexar JumpDrive M20 Mobile has pricing closer to the SanDisk, with its 32GB model coming to $1.15 per gigabyte. If you need even more space, a wireless media hard drive like the Editors’ Choice LaCie Fuel lets you share 1TB for your files, but it is much bigger and pricier than the Wireless Connect Stick.
The SanDisk’s battery life is rated for 4 hours 30 minutes of continuous video streaming, and it takes about two hours to fully charge, which will happen any time you plug it into a USB port on a computer. How long it lasts will change drastically depending on what you’re using it for—streaming video drains the battery much more quickly compared with just keeping it connected for occasionally moving files. In testing, it did last about as long as the manufacturer claims when I streamed video; when I just had it connected and occasionally moved files or viewed photos, the drive lasted through the day. As long as you plug it in to charge after heavy or moderate use through a work day, battery life should not be an issue.
The Connect Wireless Stick didn’t particularly stand out in terms of file-transfer speed, especially because it’s limited to a USB 2.0 interface. Its 9.84MBps write and 15.8MBps read speeds on our drag-and-drop file transfer tests are on the slow side. The Lexar JumpDrive M20 Mobile had read and write speeds of 32MBps and 11MBps, respectively, over USB 2.0, and it almost tripled its speeds to 92MBps and 36MBps over USB 3.0. The Kingston DataTraveler microDuo 3.0 had read and write speeds of 31MBps and 9 MBps over USB 2.0, and jumped up to 38MBps and 12MBps over USB 3.0 in testing.
Moving big files wirelessly to and from a PC is not particularly fast either—a 2GB file that took 2 minutes 28 seconds to transfer on our drag-and-drop test when plugged directly into a PC took 5:44 to do the same thing wirelessly. The ability to transfer files wirelessly is in general much more useful for your phone, where plugging the stick in physically is not an option. It can still be useful on PC, but going to the special URL and using the browser isn’t ideal, and transfer speeds are slow. You’d still best be served plugging the drive into your computer for PC transfers, unless you specifically need the remote access.
Though the transfer speeds themselves aren’t very fast, the actual process of moving files with the app is pretty painless. The app has a neat layout for navigating through the folders, which appear just as they would when plugged into a PC. When I moved a file to or from the device wirelessly, it began transferring instantly, and the app let me continue doing other tasks on my phone in the meantime. You can move multiple files at once, too. I found the range to hold up pretty well as I moved between rooms, and the transfer continued uninterrupted.
The most finicky aspect is getting your phone to connect to the drive’s wireless network, which usually works in one try, but it will occasionally fail and revert back to your usual Wi-Fi network, making you try again. Your experience will no doubt vary slightly depending on your device, but I tried it across three different smartphones, and the results were largely consistent. Oher than some momentary failures, devices connect to the drive within seconds of selecting its network.
The SanDisk Connect Wireless Stick does exactly what it’s supposed to: deliver the ability to remotely access files from your computer or phone without much of a hassle. Transfers to and from your phone are easily the biggest reason to use the drive. It can still be useful on a PC, but it’s a less streamlined process, and you’re better off plugging it in, an option not available for your phone.
Using the mobile app is easy, and you can stream media directly from the drive without moving the files to your mobile device first. The range is impressive, and the battery lasts long enough for daily work or home use. File transfer speeds aren’t blistering, but the SanDisk Connect Wireless Stick is reliable and well made, and its cost per gigabyte is a good value. The Editors’ Choice Kingston DataTraveler microDuo 3.0 is still faster and more affordable, and is likely the best option for quick portable storage, but the Connect Wireless Stick is the way to go if you’re looking for wireless functionality.