SanDisk's Connect Wireless Stick ($100 for 128GB) and accompanying mobile app solve at least three problems you might have -- especially during vacation.
Connect Wireless Stick is a USB 2.0 flash drive. Connect it to your PC or Mac to charge it and transfer music, video, and image files to the device. From there, it becomes a wireless external storage device that can stream content to three smartphones and tablets at once.
To access files stored on the stick, you'll need SanDisk's free Connect Drive app, available for Android, iOS and Amazon devices.The app is easy to navigate and use and lets you copy files to/from your mobile devices; acts as file browser; and enables you to playback videos and music.
Setup is minimal. You choose the SanDisk as your mobile device's Wi-Fi network, then open the app to access your files.
So what problems does it solve?
1. The stick makes it super easy to transfer multiple files at once between mobile devices. Take it to a meeting to share files with colleagues -- though keep in mind access is limited to three devices at a time.
2. You need to carry a ton of files, at least some big ones. Of course, you can sync and access files from Dropbox and other cloud services on the go. But there may be times when you can't go online. Or maybe you don't want to buy a GoGo in-flight Wi-Fi pass just to get your files.
3. You're going on a long car trip with kids. With the SanDisk stick, you can give those unruly passengers parent-approved videos to stream.
However, a big caveat: The SanDisk manual notes that "some DRM-protected content" can't be streamed. To give it a try, I transferred a "Mad Men" episode to the device from my Mac. But when I tapped to play the video in the iOS SanDisk Connect Drive app, I got nothing but a spinning gear wheel and a black screen.
Bottom line: You'll be able to play back any videos you've made yourself or backups of DVDs or Blu-Rays you've created using an app like Handbrake. But videos purchased on, say, iTunes are probably not going to play through the SanDisk app.
SanDisk's Connect Wireless Stick isn't the only device of its kind. The company also makes the SanDisk Connect Wireless Flash Drive ($50 on Amazon), but this model maxes out at 64GB. There are plenty of other competitors, including AirStash, a wireless flash reader with apps for Android, Amazon and iOS. It costs $50 on Amazon but doesn't include a memory card.