As the editor of TechRepublic's Smartphones blog, I've had the opportunity to test several really neat up-and-coming gadgets. The most recent one I received is called US3 Drive, and it's actually three devices in one very small package. In fact, its multi-functionality is probably its strongest selling point – that, and the fact that it works with both Android smartphones and Apple iPhones.
So, what is US3 Drive? According to Kickstarter, US3 Drive is:
- A waterproof flash drive (the storage capacity depends on the amount of money you pledge: 8 GB, 16 GB, 32 GB, or 64 GB)
- A stylus that works with all touch screen devices
- A stand that's compatible with both Android and iOS smartphones
Chitanshu Vora, the creator of US3 Drive, has already achieved his funding goal on Kickstarter, but pledges are still being accepted until the funding period ends on September 15, 2013, at 6:00 A.M. EDT. What this means is that Vora will move forward with the production of the US3 Drive, and backers will receive the final product before the end of the year.
Now that you know what US3 Drive is, the next important question is whether or not it works! Let's take a look at each of the features separately.
Waterproof flash drive
First of all, let me say that the US3 Drive works with all USB compatible devices, and it's the perfect size for a flash drive (not too big or too small like other flash drives that I've used). It fits nicely in my hand or pocket, and it ships with a detachable lanyard. I also put the US3 Drive through a few waterproof tests, and it passed with flying colors. On the Kickstarter video, a young man explained how he once lost a lot of work by accidentally washing his pants without first removing his flash drive from his pocket. That's unfortunate, but it happens. As such, this is probably its best feature.
I was actually the most excited about this feature, because there are apps that I've ignored or uninstalled because my fingers weren't nimble or small enough to navigate them on my smartphone touch screen. However, the rubber tip of the stylus end is kind of roundish and didn't provide the fine point that I was hoping for. Also, while the compact size of the US3 Drive is perfect for a flash drive, it's a bit too small to hold as a stylus. Even if the stylus was a bit longer (which would make it big-ish for a flash drive), I really wanted to have some way to attach it to my smartphone — with Velcro or a clip… something that I could easily get to, attach, and put away. In my opinion, this is its weakest feature.
When you open the US3 Drive and flip the flash drive upward, you can easily use this device as a stand for your smartphone. It should be noted that it will only hold up if your phone is horizontal. Honestly, that's probably the only time you'd ever use US3 Device as a stand, but it does tip backward when you set your phone against it in its natural, vertical position. I'm fairly neutral about this feature, because while it works, I'm not blown away.
Will you reserve a place for the US3 Drive in your pocket? What other smartphone gadgets have you come across that deserve a mention in TechRepublic's Smartphones blog? Share your opinion in the discussion thread below.
Sonja Thompson started at TechRepublic in October 1999. She is a former Senior Editor at TechRepublic.