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Kingston Wi-Drive Review: Add Storage To iOS Devices
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Date: Aug 09, 2011
Section:Gadgets
Author: Jennifer Johnson
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An Introduction To The Kingston Wi-Drive

To some users, one of the downsides of the iPad, iPod touch, and iPhone is non-expandable memory. Of course, many users buy the higher-capacity devices and assume they'll have adequate storage. But what happens if you run out of space on your iPad, iPod touch, or iPhone and you don't want to delete any files? At first, it may appear that you are out of luck—there isn't the option to pop in a memory card and expand your storage capacity like there is on other devices. However, there is another option.

Although the iPad, iPod touch, and iPhone may not have memory expansion card slots, you can expand the storage capacity of your favorite iOS devices by connecting a Wi-Fi enabled hard drive such as the Kingston Wi-Drive. This sleek little drive comes in capacities of 16GB and 32GB. It connects to your iOS device using Wi-Fi and an app from Kingston.

Besides letting you expand the storage on your iPad, iPod touch, or iPhone, the Wi-Drive can also be accessed by additional users: In fact, up to three users can connect to the Wi-Drive simultaneously. This can be particularly useful for family members, colleagues, or students who need to share and access files from portable devices.

The drive is compatible with the Apple iPad; iPhone 3G, 3GS, 4G (3G is limited to iOS 4.2.1 or higher); and iPod Touch Gen 3 and Gen 4. You can also use the drive with computers running Mac OS X (10.5.x or higher), Windows 7, Windows Vista (SP1, SP2), Windows XP (SP2, SP3), or Linux (v.2.6+ kernel).

Although it is still another piece of hardware to tote around, Kingston helps by making the drive thin and lightweight. The Wi-Drive measures about 4.78 x 2.43 x 0.39 inches and weighs just 0.19 pounds. It uses a miniUSB port for charging as well as for connecting to your PC or Mac. According to Kingston, the Wi-Drive's built-in battery should last for up to four hours of continuous use.

The Wi-Drive is available in capacities of 16GB and 32GB for about $130 and $175, respectively. With these price points, the Wi-Drive is not more cost-effective than buying a higher capacity smartphone or tablet from the beginning. However, if you don't want to upgrade your device(s) and need additional capacity or if you're unwilling to part with any of your content, this might be a good option. With its sharing capabilities, the Wi-Drive also provides additional functionality beyond simply offering additional storage space. The video below covers some of them, but so will we on the pages ahead.

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Hands-On Impressions

You can tell the designers at Kingston had Apple in mind when they designed the Wi-Drive. Even the packaging of this device is reminiscent of Apple. The box is small and simple, and that's not a bad thing. When you pull out the Wi-Drive, you may notice that its footprint is relatively similar to an iPhone or iPod touch. In fact, the thickness of the Wi-Drive is about the same as the iPhone 4. The Wi-Drive is about a quarter inch taller than the iPhone 4 and about a tenth of an inch wider. At just 0.19 pounds (or about 3.04 ounces), the Wi-Drive weighs less than the iPhone 4 which weighs 4.8 ounces.

Also, like the iPhone and other Apple products, the Wi-Drive doesn't have a lot of buttons or added accessories. Really, there's no need for them. In the box, you'll find the drive, a Getting Started guide, a wall charger, and a USB cable. The device has few buttons. The Power button has an LED that indicates battery power remaining. Next to the Power button, there is a recessed reset button. There are also two LEDs on the front of the Wi-Drive: a Wi-Fi transmit LED and an Internet connection LED. The Wi-Fi transmit LED will flash when the drive is broadcasting SSID or wireless network activity. The Internet LED is solid when the drive is powered on and flashes when there is Internet activity. The Wi-Drive's shiny black exterior does collect fingerprints over time.

The power button on the right side of the drive is small, but it sticks out slightly which makes it easier to press. We had no issues powering the drive on and off. The power button is illuminated by an LED that will indicate how much battery life is left before the drive needs to be charged. A green LED indicates 75-100% power while amber represents 25-74% power. If the LED is red, then you have 24% or less of battery life remaining.

Along the top edge of the Wi-Drive, you'll find the miniUSB port. Although this port does a fine job, we wish Kingston would have used the microUSB connection for the Wi-Drive. This would have enabled the top of the Wi-Drive to be even thinner and it seems that users more frequently have a microUSB cable in their bags due to the increasing popularity of this connection.

Loading files on the Wi-Drive from your PC is just as easy as transferring a file to a USB drive. In terms of file formats, the Wi-Drive supports the following:

  • Audio: AAC, MP3, WAV
  • Video: m4v, mp4, mov, Motion JPEG (M-JPEG), AVI
  • Image: jpg, bmp, tiff
  • Document: pdf, doc, docx, ppt, pptx, txt, rtf, xls

While the Wi-Drive is connected to your computer, it will not broadcast a wireless signal. Therefore, you won't be able to access the Wi-Drive from your iPad, etc while you're uploading files.

    

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In order to configure the Wi-Drive and access it from your iOS device, you'll need to install the Kingston Wi-Drive App which is available from the Apple App Store. This free app lets you access the content you've stored on the Wi-Drive.

The Kingston Wi-Drive works by creating its own wireless network. From your iPad, browse for wireless networks, look for the Wi-Drive, and connect to it. Once you're connected, you can use the Wi-Drive App to access your files. From our testing with a first-generation iPad, we'd recommend waiting a short time between connecting to the Wi-Drive and opening the Wi-Drive App.

Once the Wi-Drive App sees the drive, you'll be able to browse your files. The Wi-Drive App displays the files stored on the drive using predefined categories (Home/All files, Pictures, Videos, and Audio). To open a file, simply tap the file name from the list.

After about 20 minutes of use, we noticed the Wi-Drive was warm to the touch. It wasn't so hot that you can't hold it, but you'll definitely notice the warmth if you have the drive in your pocket.

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The Wi-Drive uses your iPad's Wi-Fi connection, which in turn disconnects the iPad from the Internet. However, since the Wi-Drive has a second Wi-Fi antenna, you can utilize a feature known as Bridge Mode that will let you connect to the Wi-Drive and use the second antenna to connect to a Wi-Fi network for Internet access at the same time.

We tested this Bridge Mode and found that it worked very well. We also ran Speedtest.net on our iPad while the drive was connected and while it was disconnected. The results were identical. In other words, there was no decrease in speeds while using Bridge Mode as opposed to browsing the Internet directly through the iPad without the Wi-Drive connected.

Accessing files from the drive was also quick and easy. We occasionally had to wait for HD video to buffer in order to enjoy smooth video playback, but this was not a deal breaker. Music streamed very smoothly.

     

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Final Thoughts

The Wi-Drive offers some handy functionality and additional storage space for your favorite iOS devices. In terms of price, it is less expensive to simply buy a larger capacity iPad or other iOS device from the get-go. However, if you have multiple iOS devices and find yourself constantly swapping files from one device to another, or if you simply aren't interested in shelling out the cash to upgrade your current iPad or iPhone, the Kingston Wi-Drive may be a great accessory.

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Currently, this drive is only compatible with iOS devices as well as your PC or Mac. However, our contact with Kingston said the company is working on an app that will make this drive compatible with Android devices as well. We're excited about this expanded functionality and feel that by enabling multi-platform access to the drive, the Wi-Drive will be even more appealing to users.

All in all, the Kingston Wi-Drive serves the purpose it was designed for: It expands the capacity of your iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch and allows you to quickly and easily access your files. We also appreciate the drive's ability to share files with multiple users simultaneously.

 

 

     
  • Small and lightweight
  • Ability to share files with up to three devices
  • Price
  • Android App not yet available

 



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