Kingston is no foreigner when it comes to extra storage, and with an app now in beta for the Android Market, we can now take advantage of Kingston’s Wi-Drive; a portable, wireless flash storage device. We’ve had a chance to play with one, and here’s what we think.
Here at RootzWiki, we believe there’s no such thing as too much storage. When we heard that the Kingston Wi-Drive was going to provide a wireless storage solution for mobile devices, we were super excited! Sadly enough, the excitement lasted for all of two seconds after we noticed that is was only for iOS (you can start booing now). Needless to say, our hearts collectively sank. Things have started to look up for us in the android community with the introduction of a beta app for the Android market. Looks like we can now finally have the wireless storage we crave.
The Wi-Drive is sleek. That’s really the only way to put it. It’s piano black, and it has the curves you expect from a mobile device. On the underside are four little feet so you can lay it down on the table without worrying about scratching the casing. Unfortunately, with anything that glossy black texture, it attracts a super heavy amount of fingerprints. On the top is a mini-USB port (which we really would have liked to have seen in a micro-USB port), and a power button on the side.
The power button doubles as a battery display, changing from green to orange to red, based on the battery life. Right above the power button is a small pin-hole reset button, just in case you decide you want to screw something up and it needs a fix.
On the front of the case are three LED’s. The two LED’s next to the power button show connection status. One for connection with your phone/tablet and one for connection with the internet. A third LED (which we didn’t even know existed at first) is right below the Kingston logo. It’s a small green light that flashes during data transfer.While we haven’t had extensive time to test it, the battery life seems ok. We wouldn’t say its great, but it looks passable. We’ve been transferring files to and from the device for the past hour nonstop (and it’s been in standby most of the day), and the power LED just now changed form green to orange. Granted that could vary with how many users are connected to the device, so you might want to keep a power cable with you just in case you need it.
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Inside the fancy case is a 16 (or 32, based on the model) gig flash memory chip, and an 802.11n wireless module. That’s where things get interesting. The Wi-Drive uses the wireless adapter in your device to connect. Which means if you want to use the net while using the device, you need to set it up as a bridge. That can be done from the software, which we’ll talk about shortly.
Size-wise, the Wi-Drive is roughly 4.5 in x 2.5 in x .5 in, so it’s roughly the size of a phone. For me, that’s a little off-putting. We were hoping for something about half the size, something that could slip into your back pocket and not even notice when sitting down. Granted, it’s not super big, but it’s not super small either. It is extremely light, though. Compared to an Evo 3D, for example, it’s easily 1/4 of the weight. It kind of makes us wonder why they didn’t heft it up a bit with a slightly better battery.
The Wi-Drive is pretty simple to set up. First, you need the Wi-Drive app, which can be downloaded directly from the Android market. Once that’s done, you simply turn on the Wi-Drive and connect to the “widrive” access point from your device’s wifi settings. From there, just launch the Wi-Drive app and you should see it there, as well as your SD card files. Navigate to a file on your SD card, long press it, and you can copy it to the Wi-Drive. Simple, easy, convenient. The only complaint we have is that this is the ONLY way to copy files to the Wi-Drive. We’re hoping in future releases of the software, they can interface it better with the Android OS and allow “Share with Wi-Drive”, so to speak. It would make it a lot easier than requiring the use of the separate app.
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Customizing the Wi-Drive is pretty simple as well. From the Wi-Drive UI, click on “Wi-Drive” to browse its files. Hitting the menu button and tapping settings will bring up your options. Apparently on some devices (such as tablets), you don’t even need to hit menu to see the setting button (which is great for you Kindle Fire users). Once in the settings, you can manage the network and security settings, as well as upgrade the firmware. We’re going to assume everyone here knows about using WPA encryption, so we’re going to skip that. Instead, we’ll talk about “bridge mode”.
The Wi-Drive is kind of greedy in a way, since it wants to hog your devices network connection all to itself. This can pose serious issues if you want to get on the internet at the same time as using the Wi-Drive. However, bridge mode fixes that issue. In your Wi-Drive’s settings page, the “Network Connections” option will let you connect the Wi-Drive to another network, such as your home network. This will allow you to basically let your Wi-Drive bridge you to the internet. There is a downside to this, however. Since connecting to any wireless network on your device basically renders 3G inert, you need to be in the area of an actual wireless network to use bridging. So if you’re out on the go, you’ll need to remember to disconnect from your Wi-Drive before you commence your internet usage. It doesn’t disconnect you from the mobile network completely, though, as phone calls and text messages will still function.
Overall, the Wi-Drive is a pretty neat device. Portable wireless storage for up to three users at once can be super convenient for the business crowd, and if you fill it up with movies and music, it won’t hit your data usage as hard. In fact, this is super handy for Sprint users since your 3G is pretty much useless for streaming anything anyways. We’re hoping for a few things in the future, though, such as a smaller form factor and maybe bigger storage options.