Your iPhone or iPad is necessarily limited by its on-board storage capacity. Short of using a cloud-based service, there really is no way to get more songs, videos and pictures on there… except, of course, there is a wonderful little product called the Kingston Wi-Drive. While it was first released to work only with iDevices, it has since expanded to include Android devices, as well as the Kindle Fire. You can even use it with your computer via a web browser.
Portable Wireless Storage Solution
Kingston has been hard at work tweaking the Wi-Drive since it was first announced at Computex last year. For instance, today we’re looking at the newer 64GB model, which joins its 16GB and 32GB brethren. The recent addition of support for Android and Kindle Fire is also notable, as a certain level of DRM support for Apple devices.
In case you’re not as familiar, the Kingston Wi-Drive is a portable device about the same size as an iPhone 3G, though not as thick. It creates its own Wi-Fi hotspot onto which your mobile device can connect and then, using an app or the web browser, you’re able to access all the files stored on it. In fact, up to three devices can connect and use Wi-Drive simultaneously.
What’s In the Box?
The box contents are very straightforward. There is the Wi-Drive itself, of course, as well a single sheet “Getting Started” guide in a myriad of languages, a mini-USB data and charging cable, and the USB wall adapter. And that’s really all there is to it.
When you’re ready to use your Wi-Drive, charge it up and then load all your content from your computer using the USB cable. The Wi-Drive will show up just like any other external drive, so you can drag and drop accordingly, including the ability to create as many directories or subdirectories as you’d like.
One Button Operation
Kingston has kept the Wi-Drive reasonably simple here. There is just one button. You hold this button to turn it on and you hold it again to turn it off. All the configuration is done through the app for iOS or Android. By default, the Wi-Drive creates a public wireless access point, but you can go into the settings (through the app) to define your own SSID and add security settings.
Once you do, the Wi-Drive has to reboot and then you have to connect to the new SSID through your preferred mobile device. After that, you re-open the Wi-Drive mobile app and access your files accordingly.
Android App Interface
The Android app interface is simple, almost to a fault. The main screen lets you choose between accessing the Wi-Drive or your local storage. Once you select the Wi-Drive, you’ll see your folder structure and make your way through your files. Alternatively, you can hit the menu button on your Android device, whether it’s a tablet like the Eee Pad Transformer or a smartphone like the Galaxy Note, and choose a file type: photo, music or video. It will then scan for all files of that type.
By default, your photos will appear as a list of filenames. If you’re just pulling files straight off your digital camera, this probably isn’t good enough. It was a little cumbersome, but first you open up one image, wait for it to load, hit the menu button, and then choose thumbnails. It would make a lot more sense if this “thumbnail” option was available directly from the list view.
In any case, you can hold your finger over a file and it will give additional actions: delete, copy to, and send to. It is possible to move files back and forth between the Wi-Drive and your local storage, though there does not appear to be a multi-select option.
Photos open directly within the Wi-Drive application and there is a built-in music player too. The latter is not at all robust, not being able to recognize or organize by ID3 tags. As such, you’re stuck playing your music by folder. For videos, the app will push you to your video player application. I recommend Mobo Player for greater compatibility, at least until VLC for Android gets official.
Wireless Internet Passthrough
Kingston has a partial workaround for this. Using the app settings, you can select a Wi-Fi access point and the Wi-Drive effectively works as a pass-through to give you Internet access. This is fine for your home or work network, but it becomes bothersome to keep rebooting the Wi-Drive if you’re connecting to a coffee shop, then a friend’s house, and then the library.
It’s also worth noting that this is only for Wi-Fi. If you’re on the road and you’re connected to the Wi-Drive, you’ve effectively lost your Internet connection. I’d like to see a future iteration of Wi-Drive that doubles as a 3G/4G wireless hotspot.
Your mileage will vary, of course, based on your individual usage patterns. The Wi-Drive can support up to three simultaneous devices too, so that will affect battery life. In my tests, with two devices connected and streaming multimedia content, the Wi-Drive held up for about four hours. If you are not constantly accessing content on the Wi-Drive and the connection is left idle periodically, you can expect to get upwards of eight hours of battery life.
MEGATechie Driven or MEGATechie Driven Over?
It is certainly not without its faults, but the Kingston Wi-Drive is a brilliant little device that definitely serves a purpose. The ease of use is fantastic and it’s able to hold up to multiple HD streams like a champ. The addition of the Wi-Fi pass-through is a great idea and it helps that even if you don’t have an iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Android device or Kindle Fire, you can still access the Wi-Drive through the (more limited) web browser interface by typing in the default IP address (192.168.200.254).
The glossy black finish collects a lot of fingerprints and longer battery life would have been nice. The USB 2.0 connection can be on the slow side for file transfers and the rendering of the photo thumbnails can take a long time. All this said, the Wi-Drive is still very useful. The 64GB model currently retails in the $150 range. If you want to save some money, the 16GB and 32GB models are substantially cheaper.