You just preordered the new iPhone 5, but did not want to splurge on the 32GB or 64GB model. While you wait for Friday to arrive, you are growing more and more concerned about the lack of storage space on your shiny new iPhone. After all, you are going to want to watch widescreen movies in their 16:9 glory, but alas, you need all 16GBs to store family vacation photos to show Grandma on your Thanksgiving trip home.
Critically, you scoff that she doesn’t have WiFi at the assisted living center, so you can’t pull them from iCloud or Dropbox. This Thanksgiving, be thankful for Kingston’s Wi-Drive, which will store everything needed in a compact design and wirelessly broadcast the files without an existing network. Even the nagging kids in the backseat can simultaneously enjoy different movies…
Design and App
The drive is smooth black plastic with rounded edges and approximately the exact size of an iPhone 4S. The included mini USB to USB cable provides data transfer and charging capabilities for four hours of streaming. The battery life is clearly dependent on how many users are continuously accessing content, which is limited to three simultaneous devices.
The drive is accessible via web browser from MacBooks and iMacs by using the device’s IP address and via the Wi-Drive app on iOS devices. The app uses a simple file structure system to navigate the loaded content. Quick tabs on the bottom of the screen will quick file types for videos, pictures, and music. A built-in media player will show pictures, play music and display video content. The app works very well and even remembers the playback location of video files if it is not force-closed from the multitasking panel. Album artwork displays for song files during playback even continues to play in the background while other apps are open. To my surprise, the app offers Air Play features for Apple TV and Airport Express.
I only found a couple frustrations with the built-in media player. If a video is played after a song is “paused,” the music will automatically play again. It is a replicable issue, which I found annoying, but easily stopped. Second, the native movie player cannot stream DRM’d iTunes movies. Thankfully, the drive’s IP address is accessible via mobile Safari and the movie can be streamed through the web browser’s plugin. Kingston politely included an instructional video.
Overall, the app is simplistic at the surface, but will allow the user to bridge the Wi-Drive over a local wireless network once the initial firmware is upgraded. Bridging the drive, essentially makes the Wi-Drive a NAS device and is a simple process even non-techy consumers can handle with this instructional video from Kingston. Bridging the drive means it will be accessible to any iOS device connected to the same wireless network. Otherwise, users must directly connect to the Wi-Drive’s self broadcasted network, which comes in handy in the car or at Grandma’s house. If you are looking for the extra details, they can be found in Kingston’s data sheets.
I am extremely pleased with the Wi-Drive’s performance and functionality, especially considering it currently starts on Amazon at $78 for 16GB. It will behave as any other external hard drive when attached via USB, storing any content dragged-and-dropped to its window. The ability to access the files wirelessly, on-the-go is the ultimate functionality. Next time you are headed out of town, or just want to share files with friends, load up the Wi-Drive and save the storage space on your iPhone for personal items. Grandma will appreciate it if you bring all those cute photos of the children and you don’t have to be worried about her internetless living accommodations.
- Thanks to Amazon, price is a pro!
- Small and compact
- Broadcasts its own wireless signal
- Connect 3 devices simultaneously
- Easily browse content via Wi-Drive for iOS
- Setup your own file structure via OS X
- Set up as wireless NAS
- Compatible with Kindle Fire and Andriod 2.2, Windows 7, Vista, XP, Linux, and OS X
- Mostly thanks to Apple, the app cannot natively playback DRM’dx movies
- Minor audio playback glitch explained in the article
- Only 3 devices can connect at once
Have you ever considered a WiFi external drive? Do you think this is something that would come in handy, or just another useless accessory?