• Double Duty: Our Sandisk Ultra Dual USB Drive review


    I love watching videos on my Android phones. From the large screen sizes, to the wide codec support you get from the plethora of video playback software. Itís just a fantastic platform for this. The problem is that many of the coolest Android phones lack a MicroSD slot. If you own a HTC One, Nexus 5 or LG G2, youíre stuck with whatever the phone came with. I donít know about you, but nothing is more annoying than being stuck on the train and realizing you have nothing to watch.

    Stream video via your network connection is always an option but this can have a heavy toll on your data plan. Do it too often and you could find your data bucket running empty.

    You could copy new videos to your phone whenever youíre about to leave the house but letís face it, copying files to and from a phone is still a bit of a pain since even the fastest memory cards still take some time plus your phone storage is shared with your pictures, music and apps.

    So what can you do? Well one thing you could try is to use a portable drive with WiFi like the Sandisk Wireless flash drive I just reviewed. It does work but it has some problems like being a little complicated plus you canít access the internet while youíre using it unless thereís a WiFi hotspot close by.

    A simpler solution is to use a USB OTG cable and a flash drive. Itís a good solution; copying files from your computer to a flash drive is usually faster than copying it straight to your phone. Of course, youíll have to fiddle with both a cable and a flash drive whenever you do this.



    Hereís where Sandiskís Ultra Dual USB drive comes in.



    It has a regular USB on one end for connecting to your computer and a micro USB OTG connector on the other.



    The idea is the same as using a OTG cable with a flash drive but this is a little bit more portable.
    Itís available in 16, 32 and 64GB sizes.

    In terms of size, itís much smaller than most flash drives even though it has 2 connectors. This makes the drive really portable. I like how Sandisk includes an eyelet so you can attach it to your keychain or phone, though it would be nice if they included something to attach it with.



    When I first saw it, I wondered if it could also double as a small charging cable. I figured youíd be able to plug it into your computer and your phone at the same time. Unfortunately this isnít the case. Thereís an insert that pops around the micro USB when you plug the regular USB into your computer and vice versa. I guess having 2 computers accessing one drive at the same time isnít something youíd want from a data integrity standpoint.



    If you have a thick case youíre probably wondering if the drive will fit since itís larger than your average microUSB cable connector. I donít have any 2-layer cases lying around, but it works with my HTC One in its Double Dip case albeit barely. My guess is most multi-layer cases arenít compatible unless you have a fairly large opening around the MicroUSB connector. If thatís the case you might as well just use a separate OTG connector and flash drive.



    When you connect it to an Android phone it just shows up as another drive. Of course the phone needs to have OSB OTG Mass Storage support. Luckily, every Android phone I tried had this. Well, every phone except for various Nexus devices. For some reason, not only does the pure Google experience omit MicroSD support but it also lacks support for flash drives. Fortunately, support for this is a root and adding some software away.



    Thereís a Sandisk file manager which you can download from Google Play.



    It supports various online services including: Dropbox, Box, Google Drive, SugarSync, Facebook,Amazon S3 and Ubuntu One. You can use it to backup or restore your phone contents (including your contacts and apps). It can also function as a file manager which you can use to move/copy files.

    Since it just shows up as another drive you can also use whatever file manager you want. I used ES File Explorer and Astro and both work great. The drive just shows up in /mnt/ and probably a few other places.

    Youíre probably wondering how fast it is. Actually, it really depends on what device youíre using. I figure anyone who buys this is mainly interested in copying large video files to it via their computer so I tested it by copying a relatively large 3GB file to and from it. I didnít bother timing how long it takes to copy photos since smaller files always transfer slower.

    I also tested how quickly various phones were able to read from it since youíll probably want to copy the movie files to your phone instead of leaving the drive attached all the time.

    Before I show you the numbers, note that this drive doesnít work with Windows Phone or Blackberry devices because they donít support USB OTG mass storage devices. I also tried it with my iPhone 5s using a Lightning to MicroUSB adapter and that doesnít work either.

    I also threw it in a Dell Venue Pro tablet running Windows 8.1 which lacks a regular sized USB connector but has a MicroUSB port for charging and as it turns out, also supports OTG also.



    If youíre using it to store videos, the only number that matters here is the computer write speed.



    Here the number that matters is how quickly a phone is able to read files off the drive.

    Anyways, convenience is high but wish it was faster at copying large files. After all it still takes quite a while to copy a large file to it. In that sense it would be nice if it was faster and supported USB 3.0 speeds. After all, if your computer had a USB 3.0 connector and Sandisk put fast a faster controller and chips in the drive youíd probably get faster speeds. Heck, Iím trying out a USB 3.0 flash drive right now and itís literally 15x faster than this one. If I could get all that, Iíd be fine if it was bigger.

    In terms of power draw it doesnít seem to have a big impact on battery life but if you keep it plugged in it will drain your deviceís battery overnight so itís not something you want to leave on your device permanently.

    Anyways, if you watch a lot of video or even if youíre travelling just want something to back your photos and other files to then the Sandisk Ultra Dual USB Drive is a must have.

    4 Howies out of 5.

    Pros:
    Small
    Reasonably priced
    Convenient

    Cons:
    Not slow compared to other USB 2 solutions but wish it was faster
    This article was originally published in forum thread: Double Duty: Our Sandisk Ultra Dual USB Drive review started by howard View original post
    Comments 10 Comments
    1. HC - NO "i"'s Avatar
      HC - NO "i" -
      Fellow HC,

      Thanks for the review as I actually want to get one. Now, I know it does not support iOS.

      Would extension cable solve the issue with thick cases?
    1. howard's Avatar
      howard -
      An extension cable would probably solve that but if your'e doing that you might as well use a OTG cable and a regular flash drive. Actually, I would use an OTG cable and a fast USB 3 flash drive - that way loading files onto the drive would be faster.
    1. noelm's Avatar
      noelm -
      Doesn't look like it is on sale. If yes, will be glad to have a link.
    1. PaisanNYC's Avatar
      PaisanNYC -
      Quote Originally Posted by noelm View Post
      Doesn't look like it is on sale. If yes, will be glad to have a link.
      http://www.amazon.com/s/?ie=UTF8&key...sl_uqn82vfmu_e
    1. noelm's Avatar
      noelm -
      Thank you,
      Thats odd, I searched Amazon before posting !!

      Found one more, little cheaper
      http://www.amazon.com/Transcend-JetF.../dp/B00GXYKVM4
    1. Supa_Fly's Avatar
      Supa_Fly -
      FYI ...
      USB OTG mass storage devices = is supported by BlackBerry Z30.
    1. futurephone's Avatar
      futurephone -
      It is supported by the Nexus 5 too, unless they did something to break it since I last used it?
    1. Drivemode's Avatar
      Drivemode -
      Using it for photo offloading while traveling sounds like a decent idea. I find more and more I don't even like to bother bringing my Compact camera since my phone's camera is "good enough".
    1. Telyx's Avatar
      Telyx -
      I tried one of those a few months ago and must have gotten a dud--neither my phone nor my PCs would recognize it. Actually, my laptop saw it as a "Drive" but acted like it had no memory media in it. I ended up with a Meenova MicroSD reader, which works nicely, but may try the Ultra Dual again at some point.

      futurephone--I have a Nexus 5 running stock 4.4.4 rooted, and I think the stock kernel only allows reading of USB media (for example, with the Nexus Media Importer app or SanDisk's app). The StickMount app (requires root) allows read and write access.
    1. futurephone's Avatar
      futurephone -
      Quote Originally Posted by Telyx View Post
      I tried one of those a few months ago and must have gotten a dud--neither my phone nor my PCs would recognize it. Actually, my laptop saw it as a "Drive" but acted like it had no memory media in it. I ended up with a Meenova MicroSD reader, which works nicely, but may try the Ultra Dual again at some point.

      futurephone--I have a Nexus 5 running stock 4.4.4 rooted, and I think the stock kernel only allows reading of USB media (for example, with the Nexus Media Importer app or SanDisk's app). The StickMount app (requires root) allows read and write access.
      Oh, OK, thank you. I should really try it again soon and see. I know it used to work with TC.