LAB501

ADATA DashDrive Durable UD320 OTG Review

We are living in a time where the storage space on a smartphone can put to shame a server from 10 years ago… and it is not so hard to understand why when we have 13, 21 or 40MP shooters on smartphones, full HD capabilities can be found in entry-level smartphones and the top dogs are shooting 4K. I still remember the times before the multimedia revolution, when an HDD had a couple of GB and portable storage was being born, with “huge” capacities like 64MB for an USB stick or a CF card.

Fast forward to the present and any smartphone above mainstream has at least 16GB of storage, not to speak about the 32GB or 64GB versions of the high-end monsters. And for those who still don’t have enough space, micro SD cards can accommodate up to 128GB of materials and USB sticks can even go as high as 1TB. And as the need for more and more space rose, manufacturers quickly saw the opportunity to make more money by selling something not that expensive for a quite healthy price tag. The price difference between the 16GB version of a phone and the 32/64GB version of the same phone can go from 50 USD to as high as 100 USD, or even more.

And that is not the main problem, because you can easily insert an affordable 32GB micro SD card in most phones. But when you have manufacturers trying to make you pay more than you should on storage space, on one side, and service giants like Google or Microsoft trying to lure you into the cloud on the other side, the not so pretty result is that more and more phones don’t come with a micro SD card slot anymore. So you either have to pay extra bucks when you purchase the phone so you have the 32GB or 64Gb version, or you have to use a cloud service.

And while I am in no way against the “cloud revolution”, there are situations when you will not want or you will not be able to use such services. Maybe you don’t trust the big brother with your sensitive data, maybe you don’t have an internet connection where you are going, it doesn’t matter. What matters is that when you don’t have enough space on your phone anymore and you cannot use a memory card and you don’t want or can’t use a cloud service, you need an alternative.

Enter the scene good guy USB association, who has been working on the USB On The Go (OTG) standard starting as far as 2001… What is USB OTG? Well, we are talking about a standard that allows a device to work as master or slave depending on the situation. For instance a smartphone is in most cases a slave device – you connect it to your desktop or notebook and it can charge or transfer files. However, thanks to the OTG protocol, a smartphone can also be a master device for a memory stick, an external hard drive, a mouse, a keyboard… and even another smartphone (charge only).

Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it? Well, it actually is, but that does not mean that there are no trouble in paradise. OTG support has been introduced in Android since Honeycomb (3.1) and all devices that come with Android 4.1 or higher support OTG. That does not mean that this option is active on all devices, since some manufacturers choose to block it. Fortunately, USB OTG support has become an interesting box to tick in a marketing brochure, so more and more manufacturers are making sure their devices are USB OTG certified. Taking that into consideration, it was just a matter of time for the memory manufacturers to seize the opportunity and offer devices that take advantage of this type of connection. And that is exactly the type of product we are discussing today, namely ADATA UD320 OTG.

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