Thinking about upgrading your iPad or iPhone just to add more storage for videos, photos and music? Kingston hopes to save the day with its Wi-Drive, a WiFi-enabled battery-powered storage device designed exclusively for use with iOS. Several factors make the pocket-sized device a tough sell, however, including its cost ($130 for 16GB, $175 for 32GB), and the fact that this otherwise clever content sharing contraption adds yet another gadget to your already crowded portable mix. We'd probably save up for a new, higher-capacity device before accessorizing our old gadgets, but a compact media server does seem like the perfect companion for a road trip, serving up HD videos and other content simultaneously to multiple devices using the free iOS app. This is strictly a content server -- while you can move move content off the drive and later transfer it back, there's no backup tool included, and Kingston says we shouldn't expect one in the future, either. Click past the break for our impressions of Kingston's flash-based server, due to hit stores later this month.
A battery-powered wireless storage solution for iOS may have been a new concept when the Wi-Drive was in the development stage, but we've seen other options pop up recently. The Seagate GoFlex is significantly larger, but packs a 500GB WiFi hard drive for $200, while the bring-your-own-storage AirStash lets you stream from an SD card for $100. Similar in size to the latter, the Wi-Drive resembles a MiFi, but unlike the portable hotspot, the device will only be streaming local content -- notably, without a bandwidth cap.
Serving as a WiFi access point, you connect your iPad, iPhone or iPod to the Wi-Drive just as you would any other hotspot, then access content using a dedicated app. Kingston says an Android app is coming soon (within 1-2 months), but you'll probably find it more convenient and cost-effective to add a microSD card to those handsets instead. You'll use the included mini-USB cable to load up the drive with standard music, photo, video, and document files. It's also possible to move content to and from the drive sans wires, as long as it's coming to or from the iOS app. You can move a video to your iPad to free up space on the drive, for example, moving it back later, assuming you haven't deleted it from your iOS device. Why would you want to move a file off the Wi-Drive, you ask? Well, it's easy to fill up 32GB of storage, which is likely why you need such a device in the first place. Unfortunately, boosting flash capacity is currently cost-prohibitive, though if we're spending nearly $200 to expand our portable storage, 32GB probably isn't going to cut it.
Accessing the Wi-Drive is rather straightforward, but disconnecting and reconnecting often may be a pain, since from power-on to app launch, the process takes up to a minute to complete. There's also a delay when loading individual videos -- a 720p music video took 20 seconds to launch. Naturally, maintaining a constant connection will drain battery life, especially when using the Wi-Drive in bridge mode to access an Internet connection. Speaking of battery life, Kingston reps said that you should be able to squeeze out four hours, with three devices streaming video simultaneously. It's rated for three devices to play 720p video at one time, but there's no hard limit in place, so if you've been looking for a way to watch Avatar on every iOS device in the house without taking up precious bytes of local storage, you may be in luck.
All in all, the Wi-Drive is a decent option for iPhone owners that need extra storage but are currently locked into a contract, or are otherwise unable to upgrade. It may also be a hit with families that want to load up on movies and TV shows before a trip, but don't want to transfer content to each device. Unfortunately, with its high price and limited storage capacity, most Apple addicts would likely chose to upgrade their devices, rather than shelling out extra cash for a limited-capacity streamer.
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Kingston Digital Transforms iPad, iPhone and iPod touch Storage Capabilities
New Wi-Drive Stylishly Delivers Wireless, Portable and Shareable Storage
COMPUTEX Taipei and Fountain Valley, CA -- (June 1, 2011) -- Kingston Digital, Inc., the Flash memory affiliate of Kingston Technology Company, Inc., the independent world leader in memory products, today announced the sleek and functional Wi-DriveTM, built to address the ever-increasing storage needs of Apple iPad®, iPhone® and iPod touch® users (www.kingston.com/flash/wi_drive.asp). Wi-Drive, a wireless, portable storage solution, allows users to expand the number of documents, images, music and video files they can access from Apple devices. The combination of this storage expansion, file sharing and a rugged portable form factor makes it a perfect companion device.
Wi-Drive, along with its app from the App Store SM, allows users to stream videos, access music or share files with other Apple device owners. The distinctively designed, pocket-sized Wi-Drive utilizes Flash-based technology to store data from USB-compatible PCs. These files are then easily retrieved via Wi-Drive's built-in wireless signal without requiring cables or an Internet connection. Three users can work simultaneously with different file types from a single Wi-Drive without any performance disruption.
"Wi-Drive is an ideal solution for iPad, iPhone and iPod touch users who feel confined by their current storage capacity," said Andrew Ewing, Flash memory business manager, Kingston. "Wi-Drive allows Apple device owners to wirelessly manage document and media files, and choose to share them with others, while on the go for work or pleasure. This unique functionality, combined with the durability of a Flash-based device, will satisfy both casual users and the most discerning technophiles."
To begin using Wi-Drive with any of the compatible Apple products, users simply drag and drop files from their PC to Wi-Drive via USB cable, similar to a typical USB Flash drive data transfer. Users then download the Wi-Drive application from the App Store before connecting the Wi-Drive to their device. A video with a demonstration of the solution is also available here: www.kingston.com/flash/wi_drive.asp
Kingston offers Wi-Drive in both 16GB and 32GB sizes and the product will be available for purchase in late June 2011.
Kingston Wi-Drive Features and Specifications:
Capacities*: 16GB, 32GB Dimensions: 121.5mm x 61.8mm x 9.8mm Operating Temperature: 32°F to 122°F (0°C to 50°C) Storage Temperature: 14°F to 185°F (-10°C to 70°C) Wireless Network Interface: Wi-Fi 802.11g/n with wireless security (WPA/WEP) Rechargeable Battery: up to four hours of continuous use Cable: Mini-USB to USB cable included. User can upload files and content from their PC/Mac to the Wi-Drive using the USB cable Portable: Uses Flash-based technology for durability and reliability Convenient: pocket-sized for easy transportability Simple: just plug into a USB port Guaranteed: one-year warranty App: downloadable at Apple's App Store Compatible with: iPad, iPhone 3G/3GS/4, iPod touch (3G is limited to iOS 4.2.1+) Configurable APN (access point name) and Key functions to connect to Wireless Access Point (Internet Connection) Supported File Formats: • 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
* Some of the listed capacity is used for formatting and other functions and thus is not available for data storage. For more information, please consult Kingston's Flash Memory Guide at Kingston.com/Flash_Memory_Guide.
Part Number WID/16GZ WID/32GZ
Capacity and Features Wi-Drive 16GB Wi-Drive 32GB
MSRP (U.S. Only) $ 129.99 $ 174.99
About Kingston Digital, Inc. Kingston Digital, Inc. ("KDI") is the Flash memory affiliate of Kingston Technology Company, Inc., the world's largest independent manufacturer of memory products. Established in 2008, KDI is headquartered in Fountain Valley, California, USA. For more information, please visit www.kingston.com or call 800-337-8410.