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Plenty of people are digital pack rats and proud of it. And why not? With seemingly unlimited remote storage options available free of charge or for a small monthly fee, they can store their digital photos, videos, music and other files in the cloud without worrying about running out of room.
Personal devices are a different story. Smartphones and tablets with limited amounts of storage can quickly fill up with apps, photos and videos, forcing users to delete content on a regular basis.
This week, I tested a gadget that may relieve some of that local storage burden and could serve as a media-sharing godsend on a long car trip: SanDisk’s $ 100 Connect Wireless Media Device.
This 2.5-ounce gadget measures about the size of a pad of Post-it Notes and holds 64 gigabytes of photos, videos, music or other files. And here’s where it could come in handy in the car: The SanDisk can be accessed by up to eight devices simultaneously, with five of them streaming high-definition video from it at the same time.
The size of a pad of Post-it Notes, the SanDisk lets up to eight devices access the media files it holds.
It’s on back order until next week from SanDisk.com and Amazon. A 32-gigabyte version is available for $ 80 for people who can’t wait. Both versions have SD memory card slots for expanding their storage.
Several companies have created gadgets that do similar things, including Seagate and Kingston. I found SanDisk’s Wireless Media Device to be a simple solution for quickly transferring data off of a phone or tablet. It also was lightweight and portable and worked well for sharing content to many devices in the same room at once.
The SanDisk device works with a free app that can be downloaded from Apple’s App Store, the Android operating system’s Google Play store or Amazon’s Appstore for Kindle Fire. I successfully tested it on the iPhone, iPad and a Moto X smartphone running Android, streaming high-definition video to the three devices at once without a problem. And I tapped one button to open options for offloading photos from my smartphone to the SanDisk.
The device works with a free app that displays videos, photos, music and other files for sharing and streaming.
In addition to the transfer apps, the SanDisk device has a USB cord that enables transfers to or from a Mac or Windows PC.
As for video playback, you still have to worry about file formats that won’t play on some devices. The iOS app won’t play .AVI or .WMV files, since these are formats created by Windows machines, and Android won’t play .MOV files, which are in Apple’s QuickTime format.
While file transfers from the SanDisk are easy, the process for moving files to it is a little clunky, involving the drag-and-drop method.
One of the most attractive features of this device is that it doesn’t require an Internet connection to stream its content to other devices.
It shows up in a device’s Wi-Fi settings as its own network, and you select it from your device to connect to the SanDisk. This means you can toss it in your bag for a long road trip and let many people access its content at the same time. SanDisk promises it will work from up to 150 feet away, and it did in my house.
You can opt to connect the SanDisk to your Wi-Fi network, which might come in handy in certain circumstances. For example, after I transferred over a dozen Word documents to the SanDisk device from my Mac via USB cord, I opened and read these documents on my iPad with several cloud-based apps, including Microsoft’s Office Mobile and SkyDrive apps, Evernote and Google Drive, without having to connect to the Internet.
The SanDisk takes three hours to fully charge, which it can do via USB from a computer or by using its power adapter. One charge lasts for up to eight hours of continuous streaming. In my mixed-use tests, the battery lasted for well over eight hours. It also has a smart battery feature that turns off the device if it hasn’t been used in 10 minutes.
A single black button on the front edge of the SanDisk turns it on, and three tiny icons glow to represent the battery indicator, the drive broadcasting its Wi-Fi signal and whether or not the drive is also connected to the Internet via your local Wi-Fi network.
As is often the case, this gadget’s corresponding iOS and Android apps looked slightly different and didn’t operate exactly the same way. But both apps use an icon with up and down arrows to represent the way content can be transferred wirelessly to or from a mobile device. Tap this and select content to upload to the SanDisk from your device or to your device from the SanDisk.
The apps’ transfer button moves content to and from your SanDisk and pulls up a Share option, which makes it simple to share digital files with friends via email, Facebook or Picasa — or to copy the files. To use this feature, the SanDisk must be connected to the Internet via Wi-Fi. Photos can be edited and re-saved within the SanDisk app, and several can be played at once using a slide-show option.
My husband and I each have different accounts for storing photos and videos. He downloaded the SanDisk app to his iPhone and easily uploaded a bunch of his photos onto my SanDisk device. Once images were there, I could download the photos onto my Android phone or iPad using the app, or simply look at them. But two attempts to transfer an eight-minute video from my husband’s iPhone failed after a few minutes of waiting.
A SanDisk representative said this may have been caused by the phone going to “sleep,” which stopped the video transfer. The company plans an app update to fix this in coming weeks.
If your mobile device is getting crowded, or if you want a better way to stream content to nearby friends without the hassle of emailing or texting huge files, the SanDisk Connect Wireless Media Device is a smart solution.
Write to Katie at email@example.com.Related Posts:
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The merger of China’s video giants Youku and Tudou this August must have struck a nerve over at Baidu: the search engine just bought out equity firm Providence’s controlling stake in iQiyi, an already large video service built solely around streaming professional movies and TV shows. Should the deal wrap up as planned in the fall, Baidu plans to keep its new partner as a separate badge but weave its content throughout mobile sites and search results. The company is unsurprisingly taking a Google-like strategy to make sure it isn’t left on the sidelines as searchers go elsewhere for video. Pragmatism aside, its deal could represent more for China as a whole — when hundreds of millions of people are exposed to commercially-oriented video as a matter of course, it could tip the balance in a way that we didn’t see with YouTube rentals.
Filed under: Internet
Expandable storage is a wonderful thing, but its implementation can sometimes leave something to be desired. Take Windows 8, for instance — its photo, movie and music apps leverage Windows libraries to access users’ media collections, but won’t allow users to include removable storage in the app-accessed party of indexed folders. Sure, you can keep all your media on one device, but half it will need to be accessed in a slightly roundabout way. This simply wasn’t good enough for Toni Fowlie, who wanted all of her media — from both her Surface’s local storage and its microSD card — to appear in the same library. She used an old NTFS feature to trick Windows into thinking her microSD was part of her device’s local storage, and her efforts are worth sharing.
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We know you’ve got questions, and if you’re brave enough to ask the world for answers, then here’s the outlet to do so. This week’s Ask Engadget inquiry is from Michael, who is suffering from a storage crunch. If you’re looking to ask one of your own, drop us a line at ask [at] engadget [dawt] com.
“I’m a bargain-basement kinda guy, and I’ve picked up lots of DVDs cheaply during the sale season(s). I was planning to rip my collection with Handbrake so I could watch them on my iPad, but my 1TB HDD is already close to being maxed out! Is there a better solution out there than just buying a 2TB HDD now, waiting a year and buying a 3TB HDD when the prices come down? Is there a cheap RAID-style system that plays nicely with my iTunes? Please help!”
- You can pick up a standalone 3TB external HDD for between $ 150 and $ 200,
- Or you could take the leap and set up an iTunes home server, perhaps using the cheapest Synology DiskStation, which is $ 200 plus the cost of the drives. That way you can get a 4TB iTunes server for just under $ 400.
- You could also snag a Drobo that’ll give you the same storage options with significantly increased expandability, up to 16TB in the future.
That said, perhaps our friendly readers know a way to tame this man’s ever growing media collection, so if you’ve already set up your own system, why not share your knowledge in the comments below?
Apple finally seems to be ready to show off a new iPad mini to the world, according to invites it sent out to members of the media today. The invitations are likely for the unveiling of a smaller tablet device, set for announcement on October 23 in San Jose at the California Theater at a 10 AM PT event.
The iPad mini is rumored to have a number of different characteristics, including an aluminum design with two color options like the latest iPhone 5, cellular network connectivity, a display that may not provide true Retina resolution in order to keep costs down, and an estimated delivery date of late October or early November. There are also rumors that Apple will introduce a slightly refreshed full-sized iPad at this event, with a Lightning dock connector and slightly improved specs. Price will be the big wildcard here, for the iPad mini especially: estimates range from as low as $ 249 to around $ 399 as a starting price for the new tablet.
Earlier today, we also saw rumors that could indicate a variety of model options for the iPad mini, including different wireless connectivity options or display specs. If Apple does go in for a large number of configuration options, this could be one of the most significant divergences from its existing product launch strategies to date.
Here’s about all we do really know about the iPad mini: It’s smaller (probably around 7.85-inches) – and that’s about it. Apple will go into detail about screen resolution, how it will work for developers, battery life and camera capabilities next week, so stay tuned as we bring you the news live. And look out for news about refreshed Macs, too, including possibly a new 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro and a refreshed iMac design.Related Posts:
Barnes & Noble and Microsoft’s mutual appreciation is getting a lot more real. The duo issued a joint announcement today, marking the completion of Nook Media LLC, a “strategic partnership” made up of the bookseller’s digital and college wings. The news comes after a $ 300 million investment in the pairing. Further plans for Nook Media are vague at the moment, as the companies note, “There can be no assurance that the review will result in a strategic separation or the creation of a stand-alone public company.” Until such key things are decided, B&N for one doesn’t plan on elaborating. You can find a bit more, however, in the press release after the break.