11
Feb
sd

SanDisk is announcing a new product today, the Ultra Dual USB Drive, or Dual Drive for short. It's not the only USB key with both a USB and microUSB plug, but this is not exactly a saturated product category either. The Dual Drive has a super-compact form factor and should support most Android devices without issue. We got a unit to take a look at a little early, so let's get up close and personal.


Design

The Dual Drive is tiny – about 3.5cm long by 2cm wide. The two USB connectors are at the ends with plastic sheaths protecting them. However, these aren't caps that you can take off and lose. To access one of the plugs, just push the plastic cover in toward the body of the device and it slides down to reveal the plug. The covers snap into place so they stay down when you need to plug in, and remain up to protect the connector when the Dual Drive is riding around in your pocket.

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SanDisk seems at least somewhat confident in the durability of the design – it put a key ring on the Dual Drive so it can hang out with your keys. The drive feels solid with no give or flex. I'm a little worried about the clickiness of the plug covers wearing out as the Dual Drive ages. If one of them started slipping down into the casing instead of protecting the plug, it might not fare well.

How It Works

Like the Leef Bridge, this USB drive should be compatible with most Android devices these days. Devices from the likes of Samsung, HTC, and other top OEMs support USB OTG storage natively (check the SanDisk site below for supported devices). Just plug in the microUSB end, and the system will mount it. The upshot to using the Dual Drive is that you don't need to haul around a USB OTG cable to turn regular USB into micro. If you have a Nexus or Motorola device, USB OTG won't support storage without a little work.

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On devices that aren't plug-and-play, there's the Nexus Media Importer, which gets the job done, but lacks features. If you're rooted, Stickmount will get the drive mounted on any device.

The SanDisk Dual Drive can be used for transferring files between your phone and computer, and for backing up the files you keep on the phone. In the first scenario, it really matters how fast the Dual Drive is on both the phone and computer. It's kind of a bummer, but the SanDisk Dual Drive is only USB 2.0. A new version of the Leef Bridge (which is still available only at RadioShack) has a full-size USB 3.0 port. Being a 2.0 device, the Dual Drive is limited to an effective throughput of about 30 MB/s. I'm seeing more like 15 MB/s (120Mbps) in actual speeds with this drive on PCs and phones.

Conclusion

The Dual Drive seems like a neat product. Having up to 64GB of storage in a solid little USB drive for a phone could be a lifesaver on a long flight, and SanDisk has a good reputation in storage tech. I feel like the company is a bit late to the game releasing a USB 2.0 product, though, as other companies are doing USB 3.0 on the full USB end. Indeed, the transfer speeds aren't amazing with the Dual Drive, but certainly serviceable.

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It'll come down to price – the SanDisk Ultra Dual USB Drive has an MSRP of $19.99-$49.99, depending on capacity. If the real prices come in a little lower, it could be an appealing option.

[SanDisk]

Ryan Whitwam
Ryan is a tech/science writer, skeptic, lover of all things electronic, and Android fan. In his spare time he reads golden-age sci-fi and sleeps, but rarely at the same time. His wife tolerates him as few would.

  • beomagi

    mmm. breakable leverage...
    I don't even use the right angle dongle anymore because microusb isjust too fragile.
    Wish we were using Mini-B for a little bit more strength...

    Looking at this atm:
    http://www.amazon.com/HooToo%C2%AE-TripMate-Wireless-Portable-5200mAh/dp/B00DTPYRTI/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top

    It's like SAMBA in your pocket!

    • Cherokee4life

      That's an awesome product, thanks for the heads up

    • http://www.facebook.com/lucyparanormal Daniel Tiberius

      How much storage is in that one on Amazon? I couldnt' tell if it had it built in or you put in an SD card.

      • beomagi

        No storage on it, just a USB port for your own drives.

        I don't have this BTW, I've been using my phone, with "OpenGarden" to turn it into a hotspot, "Samba Filesharing" and some large micro SD cards. Works for my Nexus 7.

        This is on my wishlist though ;)

  • aguest

    meenova better!

    • Cory_S

      Yeah i really like mine. it was one of my better kickstarter experiences.

    • Matthew Fry

      Yup! I've been happy with it except for the bright blue light while watching videos off the card. That should have been tested and eliminated immediately.

    • Steve

      Thanks for the info. I just ordered one!

  • Ravynmagi

    I have the Meenova as well and it looks more compact. I wish Sandisk would have left the full sized USB plug off and included an adapter instead to keep the size down.

    • Cat Astrophy

      yeah so people have to keep an adapter with them...defeats the purpose...it's still very small and will fit on a keychain

      • Deeco

        What he means is detachable.

    • Joris Griffioen

      I wish someone made one with just a microusb plug.

  • Androizer

    very useful!

  • Michael Benesch

    If only lg had cared to put otg in the optimus g, some phones you'll need a special kernel and a USB y cable which completely defeats the purpose -_-

    • Cory_S

      The Nexus 4 didn't support it either (heavily bases off the G). It was a hardware issue where the port didn't support power for OTG. It really sucked.

      • Michael Benesch

        I've been thinking about the possibility of a hardware mod, but haven't had much time to look into it.

  • Mkvarner

    I feel sorry for all the broken charging ports this is gonna cause.

  • Alberto

    Not bad idea for us without sd card user. Nexus only need root but if you got nexus the mean you are power user you already running custom rom

    • http://www.facebook.com/lucyparanormal Daniel Tiberius

      I thought you could use Nexus Media Importer if you're not rooted.

      • beomagi

        You might be limited to recognized media formats with that - i.e. a very small subset of what MXPlayer or your other player of choice may handle.

        I think it's weaksauce to limit it, but I guess google believes the concept of a "file" is too much for general public.

        • http://www.facebook.com/lucyparanormal Daniel Tiberius

          I guess that's a downside to using a Nexus. I'll only be putting mass quantities of mp3s so it's probably not going to be a problem for me.

        • Dustin Burckhardt

          NMI/MX Player supports pretty much every format known to man. The only thing it does not support is WMA, which you can copy over if you need to.

          • beomagi

            That's my point - nexus media importer only recognizes a subset of what MX can play.

          • Dustin Burckhardt

            This is actually the NMI dev. If you need it. I can add it. :)

            I'm a bit of an A/V nerd, so I think I have all the major types, but every once and a while I hear about a new one and add it.

            FYI: You can force stream any file you want from the Advanced or Folders screen. That said, it's up to MX Player, etc. to determine if they can handle it.

            Dustin

    • xnifex

      my Nexus is rooted but I'm not running a custom rom. some people are happy with stock kit kat.

  • GreatNews

    What's with SanDisk website? Trying to see where to buy and it doesn't show me anything

  • http://www.facebook.com/lucyparanormal Daniel Tiberius

    If this came in 128GB I'd snag this instantly.

  • Robb Nunya

    Re: Nexus Media Importer. For $3.99, I'll root my phone. :p

    • เกรียนเทพ ดี อันลิมิเตด

      Or you can use Total Commander + OTG plug-in for just $1. No root require...

      • Dustin Burckhardt

        If you just want a file manager the OTG plugin is OK, but NMI also has a photo viewer w/raw support, videos w/thumbnails, audio player and support Ext2/3/4 & NTFS. It also does not require root.

    • Dustin Burckhardt

      Void your warranty and risk a brick to save $3.99?

  • http://www.twitter.com/ninjustin ninjustin

    The Patriot Stellar USB don't look as small but look more durable. I was looking to pick one of those up.

  • Bryan Pizzuti

    So when can I actually buy one? This looks a little more solid than the Leef 3.0.

  • Ajax

    I have a similar otg pen drive but it is made by transcend it looks really cool and the price is also great

  • psuedonymous

    Wait... If those covers just slide back over the connectors, then the only part of the connectors they're actually covering is the OUTSIDE. Meaning the do absolute diddly-squat to actually keep dust out of the inside and off of the contacts.

  • Harvey Wippleman

    Amazon UK has them all in stock apart from the 64GB version
    £12.99 16Gb
    £18.99 32GB
    £32.99 64GB(out of Stock)
    sold and dispatched by Amazon

  • fixxmyhead

    If I ever see it at work I'll just snatch it up. Got myself a chromecast dongle, portable speaker and some earphones yesterday.

    • Heh

      So you're basically a thief?

      • fixxmyhead

        And a drug user

  • Robb Nunya

    Turns out Sandisk has an app on the play store for this little gem. Not sure how well it works, but it should be mentioned in this article for clarity's sake.

    • Mado

      Should've just put the .apk of that app in the thumb drive. I buy a regular thumb drive and they already put around 20MB of software inside, so why not put something in there?

      • Robb Nunya

        Agreed. Just thought it was strange that everyone was bitching about this, when it's not really an issue. Of course, if it's on the drive, and you can't actually access the drive on your phone, it's not going to be worth much.

  • RaptorOO7

    What it really needs to be successful is the ability to put in any microUSB memory card so you can have unlimited storage capabilites.

  • Bob Hart

    These USB OTG type devices often won't fit in the phone's micro USB port when certain cases are on the phone as with the Nexus 5 bumper case.

    A USB OTG cable and normal USB flash drive is IMO the best way to go.

    These double ended flash drives tend to be way over priced.

    BTW,looking ahead there's USB 3.0 models from other makers already out there in case you own a Note 3 or will own a future phone with USB 3.0

  • namesib

    Nice

  • na@na.na

    Imagine if Apple TV supported playback from such drive..

  • Bong C.

    What do you think of pkparis ? I need your comment guys. Thanks

  • NS

    It doesn't work on SONY XPERIA SOLE

  • BoB

    I did not use this on my Samsung galaxy grand. .. plz send me some suggestions. .
    My mail address is - mishrasubhransu9@gmail.com
    Plz reply me...