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Forget NFC, Toshiba is plotting high-speed TransferJet for smartphones

The company's plans for the wireless transfer technology start with USB adaptors, but the ultimate goal is embedding TransferJet into smartphones.

Toshiba's TransferJet adaptors could make moving data to and from your phone a quick process, though we didn't have much luck. Luke Westaway/CNET

With Wi-Fi, 4G, Bluetooth, and NFC, you may think you've got enough methods of getting data to and from your smartphone or tablet. Toshiba, however, thinks there's room for at least one more data transfer technology and is betting big on TransferJet.

TransferJet isn't a new technology. It was developed by Sony and formally established as far back as 2008 by the loftily named TransferJet Consortium, which includes big names such as Sony, Olympus, and Toshiba.

The technology allows two electronic devices to communicate by being held close together, a bit like NFC. But whereas NFC merely conducts a sort of digital handshake between devices, TransferJet can actually funnel data from one gadget to another. It can do it very fast, as well. The tech has a maximum speed of 375Mbps -- fast enough, Toshiba says, to move a 20-second HD video file in one second.

Toshiba hopes that TransferJet will become a popular method for transferring data. Later this year, the company will start pushing TransferJet USB adaptors for Android phones, tablets, and Windows PCs in Europe. They've been on sale in Japan since late last year.

My first impressions of these adaptors aren't especially positive. There's no Mac or iOS support, a pair of dongles will set you back €59 (approximately £47 or $78), and the microUSB part of the dongle pair felt like it was getting stuck inside my Sony phone, suggesting some wonky build quality. I also wasn't able to find a Windows driver for the adaptor because the link on Toshiba's website was broken.

Not a auspicious start on the adaptor front then, but Toshiba says that before the end of 2014 it expects to make announcements about partners launching products that make use of TransferJet, including one regarding French phone maker Wiko.

"We have [had] several talks with Wiko. They've found an interest in the technology," Toshiba's general manager of solution marketing and strategic business planning Armin Derpmanns told CNET. "In around one or two weeks we will make an announcement, but today I can't comment. There are some details that we need to finalise."

While the USB adaptors are Toshiba's first stab at TransferJet in the western world, Derpmanns said the goal is to get the technology embedded in smartphones.

"In the end, the consumer doesn't want to fiddle around with an adaptor. He feels more comfortable if it's just in the phone," Derpmanns said. "We want to give the consumer a chance to try it out. But the form factor that's demanded by consumers is to have it embedded. So that's the strategy that we have."