If you're big on multimedia, your iPad or iPhone can fill up with content pretty quickly. Since you can't simply add an SD card, what are you to do? In steps the Kingston Wi-Drive, a portable hard drive about the size of an iPhone that can stream content wirelessly to your iOS device. It's a clever solution to the storage problem, but is the Wi-Drive worth its $174 price tag?
At first glance, the Kingston Wi-Drive could be confused for a big smartphone. It has a glossy black shell accented by a plastic silver ring around the edge. Measuring 4.8 x 2.4 x 0.3 inches and weighing just 3 ounces, the Wi-Drive fit in our hand and our pocket almost as comfortably as any of the latest Android phones. The device is a bit smaller than the Seagate GoFlex Satellite, which, at 4.7 x 3.5 x 1.3 inches and 0.6 pounds, looks more like a traditional portable hard drive. The Wi-Drive comes in 16GB ($129) and 32GB ($174) sizes.
The top edge of the Wi-Drive has a mini-USB port, and the right edge has a small power button that glows green when on. Two small blue status lights indicate Wi-Fi and Internet connectivity.
To load content onto the Wi-Drive, we simply plugged it into our notebook using the included USB cable. From there, it was a simple matter of dragging and dropping content.
Before connecting the Wi-Drive to our iPad, we first downloaded the Kingston Wi-Drive app in the App Store (there is a native iPhone and a native iPad app).
When you first activate the Wi-Drive, it broadcasts a Wi-Fi signal, which you must connect to on your iPad (or iPhone). While connected to the drive with your iOS device, you'll no longer be able to browse the web or access any web-connected apps (which are most) without going back into Settings and changing your Wi-Fi network. However, within the Wi-Drive app, there's a clever workaround; you can set the Wi-Drive to connect to your local network, so you can browse the web and still use the Wi-Drive at the same time.
Currently, you can't copy files wirelessly from your iOS device to or from the Wi-Drive, but a Kingston representative said that this feature is on its roadmap.
Other settings in the app let you change its visibility, set security, and upgrade the firmware.
Once we had everything set up (less than a 10-minute process), we were able to browse through the content in the Wi-Drive with ease. The app is pretty straightforward. It shows all the content in a list, with icons next to each file name specifying the content type.
Kingston recommends that Mac users create folders for specific types of content, such as Music, Photos, and Videos, but the app helpfully sorts content by type as well.
Photos opened quickly and videos streamed smoothly on our iPad. We could easily execute pinch-to-zoom on pictures and were able to skip ahead and back through movies without a problem. In landscape mode, you can opt to view content alongside a list of everything else stored on the Wi-Drive.
You probably won't want to keep the Wi-Drive in your pocket. After about 15 minutes of use, the top end of the Wi-Drive measured 117 degrees. Later, we measured a scorching 124 degrees on the underside.
The Wi-Drive can read a number of iOS-compatible formats, including AAC, MP3, WAV, m4v, mp4, mov, M-JPEG, jpg, bmp, tiff, pdf, doc, docx, ppt, pptx, txt, rtf, and xls. Like with the Seagate GoFlex Satellite, up to three users can also connect to the Wi-Drive simultaneously.
Kingston says the Wi-Drive should last about 4 hours with continuous use, about an hour less than Seagate's claim for the GoFlex Satellite.
We like the pocketability of the Kingston Wi-Drive, as well as its easy setup and strong performance. However, $174 is a lot to pay for just 32GB of storage. While the Seagate GoFlex Satellite costs $199, you get 500GB of space, which makes up for its larger size and weight. But for those who value portability, the Wi-Drive is a good choice.