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SanDisk Connect: Another way to skip the Apple storage tax

I don't begrudge Apple's 40 percent gross margins - except on their storage pricing. They charge up to $2/GB when SSDs are $0.25/GB. There's yet another way around that: the SanDisk Connect Wireless Stick.

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Courtesy SanDisk

I bought the 128GB Connect with my own money to try it out with an iPad Mini 4, an iPhone 6 Plus, an HP Android tablet and a couple of Macs.

Hardware

The Connect looks like a slightly bulky standard thumb drive. The USB (2.0, sadly) connector is offset, so the untethered cap only goes on one way.

There's a hole for a not-included lanyard, a pinhole-size indicator light, and a Wi-Fi off-on switch on the side. To use the Connect with iOS devices, download the app from the App Store. Since iOS doesn't expose a file system to users, an app that interfaces to external storage is required.

The battery is supposed to enable more than four hours of Wi-Fi streaming. I didn't watch four hours of movies, but that seems to be a reasonable number, given that I carried it around for a week, using it intermittently.

Software

SanDisk has a number of apps on the store and I initially downloaded the wrong one. But as soon as I tried to use it with the Connect, the app told me that I needed a different version and gave me a link. Pretty smooth.

The app includes options to backup photos and such. I tried the photo backup on my iPhone and it worked as advertised. To use the Connect with a PC or Mac, you need to plug it to a standard USB port, which will also charge the battery. Note that the Connect has its own Wi-Fi network, so you can't join it while remaining on a second Wi-Fi network.

Performance

My main use for external storage is movies, so I loaded several dozen on the Connect - that's where the slow USB 2.0 connection hurt - and tried it out with my iPhone and iPad. You can either download a file to the device or play it directly from the Connect.

SanDisk says the Connect will support streaming to three devices concurrently. I didn't try three - my Android tablet refused to download the app due to some network problem - but with two iOS devices the performance was utterly seamless. I could move easily to any part of a movie with no delay. I'd expect three devices to work fine.

The Storage Bits take

The 128GB Connect cost about $75 online, considerably more than a standard thumb drive - and way less than Apple would charge for an additional 128GB, if they offered it. Is it worth it?

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For Android users who can plug a Micro SD card in for more storage, probably not. But if you're on a trip and movies will occupy the time, the ability to offer dozens of movies to three different devices could be a sanity-saver.

For iOS users with lots of photo/video content, it is an easy way to expand storage and/or backup on the go. I often buy Apple's minimum memory devices because of the irritating storage pricing.

The Connect's biggest deficit is the USB 2.0 connection. This is a multi-function device tailor made for large data transfers between Windows, Mac, Linux, Android and iOS devices. It should support USB 3.0 speeds. Despite that it is a win for me.

Comments welcome, as always. SanDisk is an advertiser on my other blog, StorageMojo.com.