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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.