ADATA's DashDrive Air AE400 is a really interesting gadget. It combines your standard back-up battery charging pack with wireless data transfer. You can use the USB port on the AE400 to charge your devices, or attach a thumb drive or HDD to wirelessly transfer files. The concept is actually great, but how does it work? Let's dive in.
When you open the DashDrive Air AE400 box, you'll find a 2-foot micro USB cable and the instruction manual. The manual is translated into 11 different languages, so it's pretty thick. Before you use the device, ADATA recommends that you charge it for 8 hours. I plugged it into the wall overnight before I start testing it out. After the initial overnight charge, it normally took about 6-7 hours to get a full charge. We're talking about a 5000 mAh battery so it takes a while to charge it all the way. The unit has a glossy black finish with a textured honeycomb pattern on the top. The device only weighs 128 grams and it's 3.1 x 2.3 x 0.8 inches, so it's easy to carry around. It's a little bulky to stick in your pocket but I carried mine in my backpack.
The power button is on the textured top of the unit. The button itself is a little darker than the surrounding honeycombed plastic. You press and hold the power button for a few seconds to turn the device on, then press the button again quickly to cycle through the device modes. There are LEDs and small icons on the unit face to indicate what mode you are in and how much of a charge is left in the power bank. The battery LED is green when the battery level is above 50%. It turns orange when the level is between 25-50%, and it changes to red when it drops below 25%. On the bottom of the unit we find the micro USB port to charge the internal battery, a reset button, and the USB port. On the top we see the full-sized SD card slot. The AE400 supports standard SD cards, SDHC, and SDXC.
I was able to charge my Nexus 4 about one and three-quarter times on a full AE400 charge. The Nexus 4 has a 2100 mAh battery. I thought I would be able to get at least two full charges from the 5000 mAh battery in the AE400, but that wasn't quite the case. I assume that the reason for that is the additional wireless data transfer features. They must put a small drain on the battery even when they're not being used. This was still more than enough for what I needed. I can usually go about 10 hours on a full charge anyways.
Where the DataDrive Air AE400 gets interesting is its wireless transfer features. The unit can be used to create an ad-hoc WiFi network to connect two devices and transfer media files between them. You can also pop in your SD card or plug-in a USB thumb drive and transfer files on or off of them. The AE400 supports WiFi 802.11b/g/n. It can also be used to stream media from a storage device, which is a really cool feature. There's a downside to all of this, though. When you're streaming media using the AE400, it's happening over a standard wireless. That means that you lose your data connection for the duration. ADATA's solution is to use the unit as a wireless bridge by connecting the AE400 to another data source and then connecting it to your phone or tablet. Although this is a work around, it does work.
There's an Android app (and iOS too, if you care). You'll need to grab the DashDrive Air Elite app from the Play Store if you want to share files from your phone or tablet. The app is free and it's really straight forward. Just connect your device to the AE400 and then fire up the app. The built-in file browser lets you see what's stored on your device and share it to other connected devices. There's a default password that you can change if you like, so your device will be secure. There are options for viewing the content on your device, uploading your files to an attached storage device, and changing network and device settings.
The ADATA DashDrive Air is a really convenient way to keep your devices charged and transfer files wirelessly. Using the device as a charging option was great. The unit is light enough to easily carry around, although it's a little bulky to stick in your pocket. The wireless data transfer may take a little set up depending on the devices or storage that you're using, but it does offer cross-platform support with both Android and iOS apps. The full-sized SD card slot was a bit of a head scratcher to me. I didn't have a regular SD card on hand. I had to find my micro SD to regular SD adapter in order to test that feature. Overall, this is a solid power pack, which when added to the wireless transfer functionality makes this a great buy. You can find the AE400 on Amazon for less than $50.