Taiwanese flash memory specialist PQI had quite a big presence at Computex, and luckily for us, it also brought along several new products to show off. The biggest bunch from the lot were the company's new Connect 200 and Connect 300 series micro-USB OTG dongles, most of which offer memory expansion that will come in handy for microSD-less devices. Do bear with us while we go through all six of these products.
Let's start off with the Connect 201. This tiny zinc alloy flash drive comes with both a standard USB plug on one end, plus a micro-USB plug with a cap on the other end. In other words, the 16GB or 32GB space inside can be accessed directly from either a computer or any USB OTG mobile device, without requiring a plug adapter.
While this may not be the first-ever micro-USB flash drive, PQI's solution -- including the other storage devices in this article -- comes with the added benefit by way of a free Android app called Connect+, which is already available on Google Play. This file management software loads automatically when a PQI dongle is plugged in, thus saving you the hassle of combing through the mobile device's directory in many other similar apps. On top of that, Connect+ can also single out images (with thumbnail display), music and videos for easier search.
Expect the Connect 201 to show up in stores in July, though no prices have been set just yet.
Next one down along PQI's roadmap is the Connect 202. It's essentially the Connect 201 but can also simultaneously act as a data cable between a computer and a mobile device. The storage part -- which can theoretically go up to 64GB -- is stored in the bigger USB plug, but it can be accessed from either plug individually. When both sides are connected, only the computer side will have access to the dongle's memory along with the mobile device's storage. It's a pretty neat two-in-one package, meaning you don't have to carry a micro-USB cable and a separate micro-USB flash drive.
The final version of this device will come with a protection case as shown above, but unlike this prototype, it will eventually have a flat cable for aesthetic and durability reasons. Keep an eye out for this in Q3.
Now, imagine the Connect 201 but with microSD expansion instead of built-in storage. This is exactly what the Connect 203 is, except it comes with a sliding case that only exposes one plug at a time, as opposed to the Connect 201's removable cap on just the micro-USB end. We were actually amazed that PQI managed to carve out some space inside the bigger USB plug for the microSD slot, and since the card sits flush in the plug when inserted, you'll need to use the small ejection switch on the other side of the body to push the card out. Again, this will hit the market in Q3 for an unknown price.
Finally, we have the Connect 204 to wrap up PQI's USB 2.0 line of OTG accessories (for now, anyway). This is simply a micro-USB to standard USB OTG adapter, and the beauty here is that it doesn't have a short cable that other typical OTG adapters have. This means your flash drive won't wobble around while you're using it on a mobile device via this solid dongle. This is also expecting a Q3 launch.
Moving on to the more advanced range, we have the Connect 301 that's essentially the 201 but with USB 3.0 connectivity instead of 2.0, plus it comes with a red rotating shaft -- a feature that's apparently more popular in certain countries -- instead of a plastic cap. Due to the faster transfer speed and larger body size, we've been told that this dongle can theoretically come in a 128GB flavor, but it's more likely to launch with just 32GB and 64GB versions in Q4 this year.
Last but not least, we have the Connect 302. It's literally just the 301 with two metallic screw-on caps for protection against liquids, especially on the micro-USB end. While it's a nice idea, we voiced our concern over how easy we could lose the caps, but a company rep said his team can look into the possibility of adding either an extra cable loop, or even adding magnets to keep the caps in one place. Again, watch out for this dongle in Q4.