The Gauntlet Node boasts a simple exterior design with a few nice touches. The top, bottom, and front of the enclosure are matte black, while the sides and rear are slightly curvaceous (ideal for that no-slip grip) with a glossy black finish.
The top of the Node displays “Gauntlet” stamped into the plastic (with “Node” set off in white) as well as three LEDs that indicate power, battery status, and wireless status. One side of the unit has a WiFi reset button and its own indicator lights, and the front of the enclosure has the power button as well as ports for DC input and USB.
The power adapter is of the kind that consists of a blocky plug (which is actually a bit of a wall wart, taking up at least two outlets on a surge protector) with a USB port and a separate cable that has the power jack on one end and a standard USB connector on the other. Thus, you can charge the Gauntlet Node by connecting it to the USB port of any computer or directly into an outlet.
Any time you’re considering a device like the Gauntlet Node that promises the ability to stream to multiple devices, one of the first questions that comes up pertains to compatibility, particularly with mobile devices that can be a little more finicky than the typical desktop or notebook. Without an app, you have to rely on mobile devices’ Web browsers to connect, which isn’t always ideal.
Patriot Memory wisely saw fit to develop Gauntlet Node apps for the iPhone, the iPad
devices, all of which are available for free in their respective app stores. The apps not only ensure compatibility with the Gauntlet Node and smooth performance, each one is tailor-made; the iOS and Android apps look completely different from one another, which indicates that Patriot took the time to develop these apps for each platform instead of just making one app and clumsily porting it.
The Gauntlet Node also has Internet pass through capabilities, so while you’re streaming content from the device, you can remain connected to the Internet and browse as you normally would.
When a device is wirelessly connected to the Gauntlet Node, being able to stream files is just part of the functionality. You can also create folders, upload files to the Node, and download files to your connected device.
One feature that Patriot did not include with the Gauntlet Node is any kind of built-in media player or skin; thus, when you stream media files, the player is whatever your system has installed. For example, if iTunes is your default music player, that's what you will use to play audio files from the Node. It’s a different story on mobile devices, as the apps do actually have their own customized interfaces, but they still lack a real player of any kind.
We won’t assert an opinion on whether or not the lack of a built-in media player is a bad thing or not; on the one hand, it would be nice to have, and it seems like Patriot could have perhaps worked up something useful such as the VLC Player with a custom skin, but on the other hand, many users may prefer to use their own favorite media players instead. We’ll call that a matter of preference.