In the age of smartphones, convenience is paramount. These days a phone can take better pictures than some cameras, shoot video, email, surf the internet, play video games, and a million other random tasks. Apparently they can also be used to make phone calls as well. ADATA’s DashDrive Air AE400 looks to help solve some of the less convenient aspects of having a smartphone. Acting as a power bank, wireless storage reader and even a mobile hotspot, is the AE400 the best companion for your phone?
ADATA AE400 Specs
The AE400 features three ports. A micro-B USB port is used for data transmission and battery charging. A USB AF port can be used as a host port for UFD/portable hard drives or for the power bank function. There is also an SD card port/slot for regular SD cards, high-capacity SD cards (SDHC) and extended-capacity cards (SDXC). A Li-Polymer 5000mAh rechargeable battery is used for charging and for the power bank feature. The AE400 is 3.1 x 2.3 x 0.8in and weighs 128g. It’s wireless standard is IEEE 802.11b/g/n.
ADATA AE400 Design
For everything that it can do, the AE400 is quite compact. The unit is nearly half the length of many smartphones but of similar width. Being nearly an inch thick makes it look fatter than many models of phones but considering the innards, it is understandable. The AE400 is as portable as a phone and can be easily placed in a pocket or small bag and take up little space.
The unit itself looks very sleek. A honeycomb design covers the smooth front and back surfaces. The branding and indicator lights are subtle and the power/function button is integrated into the honeycomb pattern. When an SD card is fully placed into the slot it will only jut out slightly so the edges won’t snag on anything. The AE400 is light without feeling cheap. That being said, when the unit is turned or shaken even slightly it feels like everything inside is being shifted. Though this may just be our unit or even a design in the manufacturing, it almost feels like a screw wasn’t tightened enough and, if moved too much, something inside the AE400 could break.
ADATA AE400 Set Up
The AE400 comes in a small box with a user guide and a USB cord for charging. Before using the AE400 for the first time it will need to charge for eight hours. After that point, set up is fairly easy. By scanning the QR code found on the box or visiting ADATA’s website, the DashDrive Air Elite software can be downloaded. The Elite app is where users will manage all their files on Android or iOS devices. For those with little knowledge of smartphones and data management, the Elite app might be a case of “so simple it’s hard” but after a few minutes of use the software’s simple menus are easy to navigate. Whenever a setting is changed through the app it will take 30 seconds for the changes to take place which might be an annoyance to some. Soon enough, though, the AE400 will appear in a list of available wireless networks and connecting takes mere moments.
ADATA AE400 Performance
Those looking to purchase a power bank for their tablet or smartphone would be wise to consider the AE400. The ability to charge a mobile device by simply plugging it into the AE400 won’t go unnoticed. The power bank’s capacity of 5000 mAh means the unit can hold up to two full charges for an iPhone 4s and slightly under two full charges for Android devices. Charging a phone or tablet while also using the hotspot/wireless storage features uses up the charge capacity faster but the indicator light on the front is a helpful reminder of how much charge is left.
Uploading and downloading data to and from the AE400 was quicker than expected. Smaller files like pictures and music were opened and downloaded within seconds. Streaming video from the reader is a similarly easy experience. ADATA says the AE400 supports up to three users simultaneously streaming 1080p video but that was not tested. The one issue with using the unit as a wireless transfer device is that portable hard drives must be in FAT32 or exFAT formats. Reformatting a hard drive might be necessary, which can be an inconvenience for some.
As a wireless hotspot, the AE400 does a good job. With any wireless internet connection there are bound to be periods where a connection will drop or data just won’t transmit as fast as it could. Not only does the device help those out with several wireless devices in the household, its speeds are relatively similar. In fact, unless side-by-side tests are performed, the difference is negligible.
ADATA AE400 Value
The AE400 costs $79.99 and comes with a one year warranty. Considering the size and functionality of the unit, it is a great deal. Purchasing a mobile hotspot and power bank individually could cost at least $100 or more. The portability of the device makes it almost invaluable especially for those users who are constantly tethered to their phones. Though a few issues with hard drive formatting, overly simplistic software and a loose unit build knock the AE400 down a few pegs, it’s very hard not to recommend the device based on its possibilities for wireless data transfer between devices and how it makes a fantastic, convenient companion to a smartphone or tablet.