Sandisk moves things forward a little at CES

CES 2016: Evolutionary and a bit larger, all in degrees

Sandisk LogoSandisk has three new items at CES, all evolutionary, larger, or both. It wasn’t exactly a product tour de force but consumer flash is pretty commodity nowadays.

The first one up is the Sandisk Extreme 510 Portable SSD, aka USB flash drive. This 480GB square drive looks just like it’s Extreme 500 predecessor but is now waterproof and dustproof with an IP55 rating. The USB3 micro connector is hidden under the rubber plug in the front corner, but other than that this 480GB drive only differs from the 500 by not offering lower capacities. Sandisk claims 430MBps transfer rates, presumably read, and all for only $249MSRP. It comes with the standard but useless SecureAccess software, it sadly only supports Windows and Mac.

Sandisk Extreme 510 SSD

Extreme and waterproof now too

The next one up is really evolutionary, the classic Sandisk Ultra Dual USB Drive 3.0 carries on the company penchant for long but obvious names. This device has a USB port on one side and a microUSB on the other for OTG/device uses. The big changes with the updates are a boost to 128GB capacity and transfer speeds now rated at 150MBps. Think of this drive as a little more from a little package.

Sandisk Ultra Dual drive and Wirelless Connect

Dual and Wireless on an iPad

The last one seems to be a bit more than evolutionary but the functions remain the same, it is the Sandisk Connect Wireless Stick. This is the second generation of the line, the idea is to put a battery and a Wi-Fi radio into a flash stick so you can stream multiple movies from it wirelessly. The first generation product didn’t have any memory internally, just a microSD slot so it was very versatile. It is a great idea, at least in theory, but the first iteration was a shattering disappointment.

Why? Painfully slow transfer speeds, software obtuse enough to confuse the author who has written a TCP/IP stack, occasional functionality, losing it’s settings and connections for no reason, power buttons that sometimes worked but usually didn’t, inability to use the Wi-Fi when plugged into a USB port, agonizingly slow performance even with the highest speed Sandisk SD cards, and other little quibbles. In short it was a great idea that you should avoid like the plague. [Editor’s note:  Others at the S|A orbital laboratory did not have as many issues with this as Charlie did.  There were still connection issues.]

The second generation hopefully fixes all of that but we have no way of actually checking unless we ever get a unit. Given the first one, no way we are going to buy another, we have enough doorstops in the lab at the moment. That said the second generation Connect Wireless does away with the SD slot for internal memory, something we will miss. On the up side it cleans up the design quite a bit and moves to Marvell silicon for the controller, a promising start. (Note: We only know this because we saw them featured at the Marvell booth)

Until we know about the transfer speeds, power button functionality, state indication LEDs, software, reliability, and other crippling issues, we can’t recommend you go near this device, there are probably alternatives on the market and they can’t be worse. Even with the upgraded silicon, most of the problems were on the software side. Sandisk was aware of them, we told multiple people involved about the issues, most of which they already knew about, so we are hopeful. With the largest 200GB variant running a mere $120 retail as of this writing, three streams would pacify a lot of kids on a road trip. With that in mind, try and try extensively, before you even think of buying.S|A

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Charlie Demerjian

Roving engine of chaos and snide remarks at SemiAccurate
Charlie Demerjian is the founder of Stone Arch Networking Services and SemiAccurate.com. SemiAccurate.com is a technology news site; addressing hardware design, software selection, customization, securing and maintenance, with over one million views per month. He is a technologist and analyst specializing in semiconductors, system and network architecture. As head writer of SemiAccurate.com, he regularly advises writers, analysts, and industry executives on technical matters and long lead industry trends. Charlie is also a council member with Gerson Lehman Group. FullyAccurate