As multimedia file needs continue to expand, especially with higher resolution photos and videos, the desire to keep a portfolio of content handily accessible is constrained by the current maximum 64GB model storage limitations of modern iOS devices. Since Apple doesn't offer a memory card slot to increase on-board storage, managing storage capacity can be a hassle. Fortunately, memory and storage leader Kingston Technology Corporation has designed an innovative product to alleviate this problem by boosting portable storage capacity up to an extra 64GB. The Wi-Drive can stream up to three simultaneous connections to its stored content, offering a compact way to carry your archive of digital data with you at all times.
The Wi-Drive is roughly the size and weight of an iPod Touch, and far more durable since there's no glass screen to worry about cracking when dropped. And while you can transfer files to and from your iOS device to the Wi-Drive, it's easier to mount the drive to your computer via the miniUSB connection. However, because the drive is essentially a big USB thumb drive at that point, transfer speeds are pokey slow compared to spinning USB 2.0 hard drives. It took quite a while to transfer 20 GB of images and videos to the Wi-Drive over this slow USB connection. Fortunately, reading the files wirelessly was adequately responsive.
Accessing and playing back the files on either an Android or iOS device was intuitive thanks to the simple-to-use Wi-Drive app. This free Wi-Drive app is available in the App Store
. There is a nearly identical app for Android devices in the Google Play market
. In addition to pushing and pulling files to and from the Wi-Drive, you can also configure the Wi-Drive's SSID (device name), SSID name visibility, Wi-Fi channel and network bridge connection settings (so that you can proxy the primary wireless network through the wirelessly network-connected Wi-Drive). You can also update the firmware from the Wi-Drive app, though I preferred to do so via the desktop downloader just in case there was a glitch in wireless network connectivity during the download and application of the update patch.
When fully charged, the Wi-Drive's battery provided around three hours of streaming media goodness. Fortunately, Kingston includes an AC adapter to keep the drive powered beyond the battery's charge limit. And because the Wi-Drive connects with wireless speeds spanning as fast as 802.11n speeds with WEP, WPA and WPA2 access security options.
Controlling the Wi-Drive is as easy as pressing the power button on and associating your iOS device running the Wi-Drive app with the Wi-Drive's SSID. The Wi-Drive's power button on the right side of the device illuminates when the drive is on. It lights up green when there is more than 50% battery remaining, amber between 25-50% remaining and red when there is less than 25% charge left. There are also two LEDs on the top indicating when the WiFi radio is active and connected to the Internet respectively.
For those tinkerers like me who like to learn what makes their gadgets tick, Kingston offers the Wi-Drive's source code
freely available for download, to stay in compliance with the GPL v2 licensed software projects they're using that help deliver the Wi-Drive's features.
Even though the Wi-Drive is a bit on the pricey side for the 64 GB model, you can also purchase the less expensive 16 GB and 32 GB configurations. But for data hounds who can't live without their gigs of music and video as well as those who have no more available space remaining on their iPads or iPhones, the Wi-Drive makes an awesome digital storage enhancement that's easy to use and offers copious amounts of external storage. It's a brilliant idea that works quite nicely in the real world.
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars