Now that HSTi's Wireless Media Stick
is official, we decided to drop by its CES
booth to see what the deal was. Essentially, these Canadian sticks are WiFi dongles covering 802.11a/b/g/n, but the magic lies in their ability to let your computers appear as one USB mass storage device for devices like gaming consoles, digital frames and hi-fi stereos. You start off by plugging a stick into a PC, install the software (installer pre-loaded on the stick), and once connected to the wireless router you choose which folders to share (which is pretty easy, as we saw). You can do the same with more computers but each will require its own stick. From there onwards, plug in another stick into a device that accepts USB mass storage devices, and you'll be able to wirelessly access all the shared files on the network as if they are on one thumb drive. Pretty sweet, huh? And yes, this thing does in fact do exactly what Infinitec's IUM
claims to do. For now, HSTi only promises smooth 720p video streaming and Windows-only compatibility, but a future firmware upgrade should make things even more groovy. You can grab one starting January 15th for $119.99 each -- sooner and cheaper than the IUM,
but double that figure as you'll need at least two to get things going
. Still, it doesn't hurt as much if you think of it as a thumb drive of up to one terabyte (and two in the near future).
: Whoops! We've just been told that only one stick is necessary -- use the stick to run the configuration wizard on the PCs, then plug it into a media device for use.
HSTi Wireless Media Stick hands-on