Patriot STELLAR 64GB USB/microUSB 3.0 OTG Flash Drive ReviewBluePanda - July 17, 2014
Category: Mobile, Storage / Hard Drives
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Patriot STELLAR 64GB USB/microUSB 3.0 OTG Flash Drive Introduction:
What a stellar day it is to talk about the STELLAR 64GB USB/microUSB 3.0 OTG flash drive from Patriot. There will be plenty of stellar jokes, and stellar reporting, on this stellar, STELLAR drive! Okay, I think we got the "stellar" out, so now we can talk about the drive itself. There is rarely a day where I don't find a use for a flash drive or a need for one at some level. They are great beyond just storage and transferring of data; flash drives are great for booting/running operating systems, playing music in the car (if you have USB support), taking save games on the go, and of course sharing things with others. So a couple of those still fall under the category of store/transfer -- but that is indeed the intentions of flash drive.
With that said, many of us are connected to our smart phones these days with their upgraded camera phones (that don't take pictures that all look like ass). Because of that, we tend to care a little more about saving those pictures and more from our phones (that are more like mini portable computers) to somewhere besides just our fragile phones. If you are as ungraceful as many of my friends, you've probably dropped a few phones, lost them to water, and it's likely been months since you sat down and plugged your phone in to "backup" things. Although there are cloud services for backing things up in today's day and age, I still find myself with lack of network/WiFi to do it all too frequent when traveling or just on the go.
This is exactly where Patriot seems to step in with the STELLAR drive (though I'm sure it wasn't the only rational). The STELLAR functions as a relatively small (I can't believe how small in person) USB 3.0 flash drive, BUT, it has the extra bonus of an added microUSB connection; which serves most of us with Android-based phones or perhaps those of you with tablets (me!) that also have these smaller connections. It is said to be compatible with Android devices versions 4.0 and up with the on the go (OTG) option enabled. The drive itself is supported by your standard Windows and Mac operating systems, so one might think any Windows tablet ought to be able to read it as well. With a claim of about 140MB/s "transfer" rating, I think it's time we plug in the STELLAR drive and find out two things: 1) how "stellar" it is, and 2) if having the extra microUSB connection is really all it's kicked up to be.
Patriot STELLAR 64GB USB/microUSB 3.0 OTG Flash Drive Closer Look:
The packaging for the Patriot STELLAR 64GB flash drive isn't something too out of the ordinary. It does provide quite a bit of detail on the front of the packaging as well as a bit more on the back to really help you while at the store without having to Google anything. What is interesting is the size of the drive, which is much smaller than even my thumb; and I have small hands. The key feature of the drive, being part of the mobility series from Patriot, is the tiny little microUSB nub on the end just showing through the clear gray cap. As the packaging clearly points out, it can "Connect directly to your Android device" with an asterisk pointing to the bottom for use with Android versions 4.0 and higher. It's very clear from the front alone the purpose of being able to be used with your mobile devices (Android and Windows – sorry Apple, your unique connector is uniquely eliminating you here). The back doesn’t really provide you with more information; and sadly the back, nor the front, give us an idea of expected speeds. Guess you might have to pull out your Google-foo after all.
Out of the package the STELLAR 64GB is a rather "cute" size. The body is an aluminum shell anodized in a golden yellow. The other sizes are differentiated by distinctive colors, so if you want the largest capacity of 64GB you are stuck with the yellow one (not that color on flash drives really matters). STELLAR, along with the capacity (64GB), is printed right into the body, so you'll always know what you have without having to plug it in and check. It seems to be engraved in, so even with a lot of use and carry with other items, I don't think you'll lose the printing. The back side, or rather the other side, has the Patriot "P" logo etched in along with two dots to reference the USB side with the thick portion of the USB plug to plug it in.
The microUSB portion of the drive is beneath the slightly soft plastic cap. The cap stays attached to the drive while open so you can't misplace the tiny cap, thankfully. The microUSB plug is your standard microUSB plug, so nothing really special or out of the ordinary, other than the fact that it is here on the end of USB stick. I feel at some point you might break the linkage between the cap and stick itself, but really if you lost it, think about it… do you have a cap on the end of your phone to keep things out of its port while in your pocket? Probably not; you also don't keep a cap on the end of your phone charger while on travel, so I don't really see the eventual loss of the cap (if it even happens) to be a real issue.
The USB side of the STELLAR goes right back to the loss of cap concept; it removes the cap all together and uses the body of the drive to keep you from ever losing another cap. The whole body goes right in just like the usual end of your flash drive. There isn't a cover to slide back to use it nor a cap to take off either. What you see is all there is to it, nothing to break, nothing to lose; except, well, maybe the tiny drive itself. There is, hard to see at first, a little hole on the opposite side of the cap connection that you could potentially use for a small key ring or means of connection to make it a little (no pun intended) easier to find.
Naturally I wanted to see how the Patriot STELLAR worked in my phone. I just recently got a new phone, so having Android 4.0 and above was no longer an issue (RIP old phone!). Shown is the Moto X, relatively fresh from the box, with the STELLAR happily seated in the microUSB/charging port. Unfortunately nothing happened when I plugged it in. I was sort of expecting a pop up or at least the ability to find the drive somewhere in my file management tool. No dice. The phone is OTG enabled, and I was at a loss as to why it didn't show up. Apparently in the last few weeks I did get an update that now sets a pop up when I plug the STELLAR in and can quickly find it to store to it (I likely just didn't have all the updates out of the box). My husband's "older" phone, Droid M, brings up the drive just fine despite there not being a pop up stating something was inserted. So be patient at first; the drive is likely connecting, you just might not have a message saying such depending on the age/brand of your phone.
With the drive plugged in you can navigate your phone just like normal; nothing forces you to go to the drive or anything. You can even search the OCC forums while it's plugged in. It is like having an external hard drive for your phone. You could even download directly from a website to the STELLAR if you wanted to.
While playing with the drive I realized quickly that it is formatted to FAT32 by default to work with your phone. This poses the issue, shown below, of being unable to write files larger than 4GB to it. You can of course format it to exFAT (or NTFS for whatever reason) for your use, BUT, big BUT, you won't be able to use it with your phone until you format back to FAT32. I did find plugging it in to my phone (the Moto X) while formatted to exFAT recognized that it was "wrong" and simply asked if I'd like to format the card on the spot; so while I'd lose what I have on it, it would work with my phone without having to manually format it elsewhere. The Droid M did not prompt me with this formatting option, and needed formatting externally. So again, it goes back to your phone's age/brand, but ultimately it should (and seems to) work as long as you have Android 4.0 and above.
Ultimately it was just nice having the drive essentially work out of the box. It took some upgrading on my relatively new phone (though it probably needed it anyway) to make it work. The older phones seem to take a little extra if you've maybe formatted it, but again still simply worked out of the packaging. Not bad, and quite nice for backing up or saving things on the go when you don't have, or don't want to, take out your laptop to save things.