Last year, we reviewed the Kingston Wi-Drive. This was a wireless storage solution for Android and iOS devices, allowing you to connect via Wi-Fi and share gigabytes of data. It's a great idea, particularly for mobile devices that lack expandable memory card slots.
At CES earlier this year, Kingston revealed that they are working on expanding the Wi-Drive series of products to include a wireless card reader and that's what we're looking at today. It's tentatively called the Kingston Wi-Drive MobileLite+, but I say tentatively because this is very much a beta product. They've turned to the community for feedback to see if there is demand for such a product and, if so, how they can go about improving it before an official retail launch.
Quick Feature Overview
Whereas the main Kingston Wi-Drive product can have up to 128GB of internal storage for all your different media files, the MobileLite+ doesn't actually have any storage of its own. Instead, it features an SD card slot, a microSD card slot, and a USB port. You provide you own memory card or USB drive, inserting it accordingly to provide the MobileLite+ with some memory.
Aside from that, the Wi-Drive MobileLite+ wireless card reader effectively works the same way as the original Wi-Drive product. It creates its own Wi-Fi access point and then you connect to this using your iPhone, iPad or Android device using either the free app or by dialing into the IP address through the web browser. One added feature is that the internal battery of the MobileLite+ can also be used to give a quick top-up to your mobile devices, not unlike the variety of portable USB battery packs that are on the market today.
Style and Design
The overall shape isn't nearly as round or curvaceous as its predecessors and I think this kind of differentiation is the right way to go. While most Kingston card readers are made entirely of plastic, this one has some aluminum. I recognize this adds cost to the manufacturing process, but I feel it's worthwhile for a more premium feel.
That being said, the Kingston Wi-Drive MobileLite+ is too big for what it is trying to accomplish. It feels very light in the hands and it feels unnecessary for it to be as large as a smartphone. It's possible that Kingston is using a slightly larger chassis so that they can accommodate a bigger battery or perhaps some internal storage in the future, but as it stands, this product could be a lot more compact.
The Same Wi-Drive Software
While this could certainly change, as far as I can tell, the software that is being used with the Wi-Drive MobileLite+ is exactly the same as what you'd use with the regular Wi-Drive. I looked through the Google Play Store and didn't find anything different. Given that this is a beta product, the MobileLite+ didn't really come with much in terms of instructions either.
So, using the Wi-Drive app, you can navigate through the content that you have connected with the USB drive or SD card, including pictures, videos and music. I found some time before it could display larger pictures for whatever reason, which is strange considering that the same pictures loaded much more quickly with the regular Wi-Drive as tested.
I tried getting the Wi-Fi pass-through functionality to work here, but it just wouldn't go, even though it's clearly able to see the different Wi-Fi networks that are in the area. I imagine all this needs is a firmware update and then it'd work just the same as what we had with the original Wi-Drive.
MEGATechie Mobile Plus or MEGATechie Mobile Minus?
Kingston has a pretty nifty idea on their hands here with the Wi-Drive MobileLite+. Imagine that you are out on a trip with your digital camera and you quickly want to share those photos with your social networks on your phone. By taking the SD card out of your camera and sticking it in here, you can do that. Yes, Eye-Fi cards already do that, but this is far more versatile since you can use it with just about anything, including USB flash drives.
The design is an overall improvement over the original Wi-Drive, but I would like to see it smaller. Some people may like having some Kingston color on there as an option too. As far as pricing, I'd like to see in go no further than the $50-$60 range or so, unless they start adding internal storage to go along with the USB port and card readers. Of course, I'd like to see some of those quibbles to be fixed with a firmware update too, but I think a product like this could be quite promising.